Thanks everyone for your terrific suggestions. I did make prime rib one year and agree it's the best way to go but very expensive - for twelve of us it was $100.00 from my favorite butcher but you are right the issue with prime rib is some people don't like any pink and I can't fathom spending all that money and then making the beautiful piece of meat well done.
Ok, prime rib is delicious but expensive unless you know someone who could get if for you from a supplier at THEIR cost, as is crown roast for that many people, but if cost is no object, then why not? As far as tailoring the temp of the prime rib, you're cooking it whole but would have to then slice and alter it individually...not so entertaining friendly...
Beef tenderloin (filet mignon) is an affordable alternative, but it's less fatty meaning less flavor...the upside, easy to cook and can be flavored a million ways...and everyone usually loves it...a Wellington would be nice for presentation....
This depends upon how much money you want to spend and how much you want to wow people.
Prime Rib / Standing Rib Roast – is good but problems occur when some people want rare and some want Well.
Beef Bourgogne (AKA stew) – is good, but gives that cheap feel to it, no matter what you call it you are still serving stew.
If you want to wow then go with Filet Mignon’s – Mark them on your grill ahead of time and then refrigerate. You can get orders for doneness ahead of time and then start them in the oven in stages. There are numerous sauces you could do, see recipe above for one idea, you could also really fancy it up and make a rich lobster sauce so you get a surf and turf deal going on. Or a nice creamy mushroom sauce, just about anything that you can think of will work, go South American and serve it with a chimichurri sauce, Or as another poster suggested make Beef Wellington’s’; your imagination is the only limitation here.
This recipe from epicurious.com is easy, foolproof and delicious. It is also expensive because of the beef tenderloin, but if you are comfortable roasting beef, you could use another cut and use the same sauce. I puree the roasted shallots and stir them into the sauce and I leave the bacon out of the sauce, as I prefer a smooth sauce rather than the chunky one the recipe results in.
If you're looking for foolproof, I might go with Beef Bourguignon Prep heavy, but nothing is particularly difficult and it holds really well.
Plus there's no issues with the doneness of the beef (in my family, that ends up happening is that the people who like their meat well done have their slices of meat cooked on the stovetop a la minute, which is when I want to just start tucking in and enjoying the meal. :) Might not be an issue for your guests....
how many people ? what is your skill level ?
I suggest a big juicy prime rib roast with the bone; cook according to the "instructions"; put to rest, deglaze the pan drippings with wine and serve with roasted potatoes!!!
if more adventurous (and can be prepared in advanced), you could prepare Beef Wellington; beef smothered with foie gras and sauted mushrooms wrapped in puff pastry.