“They really didn’t miss on anything,” said husband Eric, of our prime rib dinner for two from Prime at Saratoga National.
Takeout, in our experience, is getting better. Starting with big trays of mostly indifferent pasta meals, we’ve now progressed to bringing home a fine meal, as good as you can get eating in at Prime at Saratoga National.
Everyone has had to pivot in these times, and we’d lowered our expectations accordingly. But restaurants are getting better, much better, at providing excellent food to go.
Our expectations were hopefully high, because Prime is a Mazzone property, and dinner was $50 for two (as of this writing the price is $55). But they came through with a meal that was as good as if it had been just been brought from the kitchen to our table by a well-trained, impeccably turned-out Prime employee.
Take Out Prime is now the order of the day. Weeknight dinners (for two to four) — a different choice each evening — include an entree, accompaniments, salad, bread and butter ($42 plus tax). For example: buttermilk fried chicken, sharp cheddar mac and cheese, iceberg salad with ranch dressing, buttermilk biscuits and gravy. Add dessert for $14 or a bottle of wine for $15 or $20.
A new menu comes out on Mondays for dinners from Wednesday to Saturday, and wines and desserts vary week to week. Order online or over the phone.
It wasn’t easy to get this prime rib dinner for two. Husband Eric received an ad in his work email and wanted to sign up for their Saturday night special right away. But when we called on Wednesday, it was already sold out. The menus go up for each week on Sunday evening. You can order online then or call Monday. Dinners sell out quickly.
Oh, the disappointment: We’d worked ourselves up for a Mazzone meal. However, the nice person on the phone offered to sign us up for the next weekend. We paid right away and starting counting down until the happy day.
Saratoga National Golf Club was looking its best in springtime green that beautiful Saturday, the lawns lush and verdant, fat, fresh bunches of daffodils blooming in the sun and best of all, people. Golfers everywhere, groups mostly spread apart but acting normal, just playing golf. Hooray for normalcy.
We’d got the earliest pickup time, 4:30. When we went inside the massive building that houses the restaurant and into the cavernous lobby, there were two other groups of folks already waiting who were even earlier than we were.
Eric added a bottle of red wine to our meal ($15), a modestly good Côtes du Rhone that rates 3.8 out of 5 stars on Vivino. Our shopping bag came out with many thanks from the staff, and we were on our way. “It’s heavy,” said Eric.
We stopped on the drive home for socially distanced cocktails and parked our meal in Carl’s oven at 170 degrees for about an hour. I squirmed a bit: If it was a little overcooked we’d take the blame. We didn’t sit down to eat until almost two hours after we’d picked up our meal.
I’d set the table in the dining room before we left, and we opened the packages to find one gorgeous, immense cut of rib roast seasoned with garlic and fresh herbs, fluffy mashed potatoes, spinach sautéed with garlic, a generous salad for two, small baguette and container of au jus. There were condiment cups of horseradish sauce and creamy Italian dressing.
We sat down to enjoy the salad. Romaine, arugula and baby spinach with red onion, cucumber and halved grape tomatoes made for a change from our usual salad. “Extremely fresh,” said Eric, who loved the sweet dressing. They’d thought of everything, even unsalted butter for the excellent freshly baked bread.
Then Eric sliced the slab in half horizontally and we swooned. Hours later, it was absolutely perfect. It was pink from end to end and marbled throughout, in that sweet spot between rare and medium. “It’s pretty tender, too,” Eric said, after we’d tried it. I made a mental note to season my roast the same way they did next time, with coarsely chopped garlic and fresh rosemary.
“They didn’t ask me how I wanted it done,” Eric commented. It was exactly the way we liked it.
The mashed potatoes managed to be light and were almost sweet. The spinach was sautéed just the right amount.
Careful with the horseradish sauce: Eric tipped some out expecting it to be thicker and it almost covered his slice of meat. He likes horseradish, but this was too much. No matter. “I’m full. I’m happy,” he said.
“If I’d gotten it at a restaurant I’d have been impressed, but the fact that they can do this at home is amazing,” said Eric, sitting back in his chair.
It felt like dining out in a fine restaurant, except we had to clean up ourselves. It was a pleasant change and a welcome distraction.
A steakhouse meal is a special occasion for many, usually reserved for birthdays and anniversaries. It’s good to know that if we’re still staying home when the next occasion rolls around, we can still get a special meal to go. Prime still turns out exceptional food.
Prime at Saratoga National
WHERE: 458 Union Ave., Saratoga Springs; 518-583-4653
WHEN: Wednesday to Saturday, 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Order daily by 4 p.m. Pick up inside or curbside.
HOW MUCH: $50 for dinner without wine and before tip.
MORE INFO: Menus at golfsaratoga.com — close the banner regarding COVID-19, the link is underneath.