If you’ve lived in Philly for more than a day, you’ve had a cheesesteak. In fact, if you’ve been here for any significant amount of time, you probably have a ranking in your head of the top 10, which one has the softest bread, and where you can find the best cheese wiz. So when a restaurant puts a $120 cheesesteak on their menu, you can’t help but roll your eyes and wonder how anyone could ever justify dropping so much money on a sandwich. But that’s exactly what Barclay Prime did, and it’s the only place in the city that could - and does - get away with it.
Barclay Prime is a steakhouse right on the edge of Rittenhouse Square Park, and it goes big. Like a reality TV star planning an amusement park-themed birthday party for their one-year-old big. Like the city of Philadelphia after winning a Super Bowl big (okay, maybe not that big). But everything they do at this loungey, chandelier-filled spot is like a high-end circus - from the choreographed presentation of dishes to getting to choose your own knife.
And nothing at Barclay Prime goes bigger than the food, which ranges from a raw bar (that includes an ounce of caviar for $210) to the cheesesteak and a special menu just for wagyu A5 steaks. And while you might take one look at the menu and wonder how any piece of meat could be worth as much as a cashmere sweater, one bite of the A5 wagyu filet that you can cut with just a spoon will change that. It’ll have you considering going to the nearest casino and putting your whole retirement fund on one hand of poker, just to get the chance for one more meal here.
The cheesesteak is the other thing on the menu that’s non-negotiable because it’s annoyingly, shockingly, and confusingly better than any other cheesesteak in existence. It’s so good that you’ll wish you hadn’t even tried it because you probably spent the first half of dinner telling your friends how “there’s no way it lives up to the one at Ishkabibble’s” and now you have to sit there silently and eat your words. And while you won’t be walking up to Barclay Prime and ordering a wiz wit on a Tuesday afternoon anytime soon, you’ll definitely be thinking about this sandwich the next time you’re in line at Jim’s for 30 minutes.
For all that is perfect and delicious at Barclay Prime, there is one huge downside - and that’s how expensive it is. You should be prepared to spend upwards of $200 per person for dinner here, but if you’re looking for the best steakhouse in Philadelphia, Barclay Prime is in a league of its own.
All of the steaks here come simply prepared, sliced, and topped with a few flakes of sea salt. You can get them with a sauce (our go-to is the house steak sauce), but they’re so perfectly cooked and well-seasoned that they’re best eaten just how they come.
It’s $120 and filled with wagyu ribeye, foie gras, onions, and truffled cheese whiz. It’s obscenely over-the-top, but also incredibly delicious, and you shouldn’t leave without getting one for the table. Also, you can get it without the half bottle of champagne that comes with it for (only) $95.
On a menu full of great dishes, this one is a miss. Skip it and go for the hamachi crudo or crab cocktail instead.
Cheesy, truffley, and the perfect accompaniment to a big hunk of red meat.
If you’re more in the mood for seafood, the Dover sole is your best bet. It’s light, topped with a lemon caper brown butter sauce, and it’s almost as good as a steak. Almost.
All of the desserts here are great, but we always come back to the rocky road brownie. It’s topped with sea salt ice cream, a toasted marshmallow, and some chocolate sauce, and it’s delicious.