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The prime rib cart is the star attraction of this newly reimagined restaurant.

The Warwick Melrose opens The Landmark Prime Rib with vintage carving cart

The Landmark Prime Rib reopening resets excitement at the Dallas hotel

In February, The Warwick Melrose in Dallas rebooted its foodservice options by reopening The Landmark Restaurant as The Landmark Prime Rib. The restaurant’s new focal point — a 1940s-era, chef-serviced prime rib cart — gives The Landmark Prime Rib its own unique twist in a market crowded with steakhouses.

The Warwick Melrose’s building began life as an apartment complex built in 1924 and was fully converted into a hotel in the 1980s. Its marble-floored lobby, ornate chandeliers, and vintage touches such as the wrought iron mail drop first used by residents of The Melrose Court Apartments in 1924 set an elegant stage for The Landmark Prime Rib’s elegant cart service.

The pivot in concept is a refresh with good timing, coming on the heels of the recent closing of Dallas’ beloved Lawry’s The Prime Rib after its own 40-year run.

“Prime rib is having its moment and becoming more popular,” James Alexander, director of food and beverage at the Warwick Melrose, said. “It’s no longer just for special occasions. We wanted a different niche that will stand out—not just a steakhouse.”

Originally used in California, the vintage service cart made its way to an artist’s warehouse in New Jersey before the Landmark team brought it to Dallas for a full restoration. Although many vintage prime rib carts of the mid-20th century resemble Airstream trailers with sleek designs, Landmark’s cart is adorned with wood paneling and topped with a stainless steel dome.

The cart has wheels, but The Landmark positions it centrally rather than going from table to table. The hotel’s leadership visited other prime rib steakhouses around the country and saw that guests loved prime rib carts but didn’t really enjoy having them tableside.

“At Lawry’s, they pushed the cart around too,” Alexander said. “We wanted to have a focal point. If your entree comes out, you’re welcome to go to cart to watch, or you can wait at the table. It’s a great opportunity for people snapping photos for social media. It’s a show.”

Having excited guests get up and walk to the cart also creates more communication and conversation between staff and guests than if plates went straight from the back of the house to tables.

“Staff can talk about the food and the history of the cart,” Alexander said.

When the restaurant reopened, guests flocked to the cart and the team quickly realized they didn’t have enough space around the cart for adequate traffic flow. So, they moved a communal table out of the way to prevent a bottleneck of onlookers, Alexander said.

Aside from refurbishing the vintage cart and putting it into active duty, the Warwick Melrose already had implemented some minor renovations at The Landmark prior to the pandemic, including opening a private dining room behind a curtain, adding tablecloths at night, and featuring new artwork.

“The cool thing about the private dining room is that it was inspired a table Chris found in a closet. It was going to be thrown out,” Alexander said. “We saved it and made it private dining table.”

The new restaurant concept brings a retooled menu. Prime rib options at The Landmark include Dallas (8 oz), English (12 oz), Prime (14 oz), and “Millionaire” (20 oz) cuts—all grass-fed and locally sourced from Texas vendors—at one of three temperatures, cut and served from the cart, featuring a variety of sauces, rubs, and butters, from traditional to spicy chili-infused. Beyond prime rib, the menu offers pan-seared salmon and sea bass, free-range roasted chicken breast, and additional cuts of steak such as New York Strip, Dianne, and Filet Mignon. Sides include garlic mash, truffle mac and cheese, Bordeaux mushrooms, and sauteed broccolini.

New cocktails at the reborn restaurant include The Landmark Prime Rib Boulevardier (Blanton’s Bourbon, Campari, and sweet vermouth), the Staycation (Hendricks gin, PAMA Pomegranate liqueur, spiced pear liqueur, and lime juice), A Walk Down Landmark Lane (Kettle One vodka, St.-Germain, cranberry juice, lemon juice, and simple syrup). Also offered is a selection of artisanal mocktails featuring Tepetan cold pressed cocktail mixers. 

“What’s exciting for us is we’re seeing this trend for prime rib,” said Niederschulte. “The Landmark used to have a lot of locals before the pandemic, and they are coming back.”

Tad Wilkes is former editor-in-chief of Hotel F&B magazine.

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