Boston Market’s rotisserie prime rib brings the mid-tier casino buffet experience to the masses

Illustration for article titled Boston Market’s rotisserie prime rib brings the mid-tier casino buffet experience to the masses
Photo: Kevin Pang

In the mid-1980s, Boston Chicken was a fledgling chain out of Massachusetts that took the rotisserie chicken—back then, a dish mostly reserved for upscale restaurants and Sunday roasts—and turned it into a carry-out dinner staple. It’s easy to forget that only in the last few decades did rotisserie chickens achieve supermarket-ubiquity, packaged in domed Tetra Paks and sold for under $10.


Boston Chicken was renamed Boston Market in 1995, and these days the chain is attempting to take another consigned-to-fancy-restaurants entrée and make it takeout food: the prime rib.

The prime rib of beef has long been a mainstay of casino buffets, banquets, and Upper Midwest supper clubs. Cooked to a sumptuous deep-pink, a proper prime rib is marked by its tenderness—achieved by a long, slow roast—something that a ribeye steak seared four minutes a side can’t achieve.

My first thought was a fast-casual restaurant would have to compromise somewhere to serve a halfway decent prime rib. There’s that issue of timing. It turns out, though, Boston Market is only offering the prime rib in limited quantities Wednesdays through Saturdays after 5 p.m. and Sundays after 12 p.m. Small batches will always trump mass production.

What arrived on my plastic tray (an 8-to-9 oz. serving with two sides for $15.99) certainly resembled a slab cut from a mid-tier casino buffet. There was decent marbling. The USDA choice beef had no overcooked gray patches; the beef closer to medium than medium-rare. I would’ve hoped the outer periphery had a crustier exterior, but my piece had that appealing roasted texture steamed out.

Upon first bite, my first impression was: Hey, it’s prime rib! Well-seasoned, slightly peppery, appropriately tender, nowhere on the slab was it dried-out. If this was served to me at a three-star hotel on TripAdvisor—more Hyatt Regency than The Conrad—I would be perfectly satisfied.


A few criticisms: If you order mashed potatoes as a side, the default gravy is chicken gravy, which is the wrong accompaniment for this prime rib. The beef gravy is the superior version. I also wished this came with horseradish, maybe a cup of jus at minimum, just to complete the prime rib aesthetic.

(UPDATE: On its website, Boston Market says horseradish and jus does come with an order. I never got mine.)


I’ve long been a fan of Boston Market’s rotisserie chicken, and its prime rib is a more-than-serviceable entry into the beef game (the chain is also offering rotisserie brisket on Mondays and Tuesdays). More importantly, if this can kickstart a revolution of supermarket takeout prime rib—like it did with rotisserie chicken—then Boston Market will have done a better public service than offering a Grade-B dish. It will have changed the way we eat dinner.

Kevin Pang was the founding editor of The Takeout, and director of the documentary For Grace.


Manic Otti

Seriously, no au jus and horseradish is a major fail. Would you like some ketchup with your plain-ass prime rib, lol?