Thursday, March 13, 2008

First Look - Ray's the Steaks

I can't begin to tell you how long I've been waiting for this. Years, almost as long as I've lived in DC. Even before I even cared about food I wanted to go, it was my finish line...and Saturday, I got there.

Ray's the Steaks is a mecca of meat, it's a shrine to real food made right, and it's nod to a simpler time when the food on your plate, not the decor on your walls made your restaurant.

If you walk in thinking Ray's is going to be like Ruth's Chris or Morton's, you need to turn around and go home. Unlike its chain counterparts, Ray's doesn't take reservations (which is a double edged sword), and doesn't have overly dressed waiters displaying pieces of meat to you in grand demonstrations.

What you'll get is a small room with nothing on the walls, waiters and waitresses who don't mess around, and food that's actually under-priced.

You'll start off with a small bowl of spicy cashews which they need to package and sell (much in the way Michel Richard needs to market those chicken nuggets of his), because I'd buy them by the ton.

The wine list is ample, but not overwhelming, and the glass of Cabernet Sauvignon that my father and I both had was fantastic.

Everyone (Apples, my father, and I) started off with a bowl of soup. The French onion was incredibly flavorful and appropriately cheesy; again, something I could eat by the gallon. Apples and dad got the lobster bisque which was a cup of creamy goodness, yet was pleasantly light.

But the real star of the show was the meat. My father and I got the hanger steak. I had never had hanger steak before, but I've known that I wanted my first experience to be here. I'm so glad I waited.

Unlike in other steakhouses, the steak here didn't come out in a pool of butter, it was clean, incredibly flavorful, and cooked exactly how I wanted it.

Apples got the petite filet, which I thought was as good, if not better than any other filet I've ever had.

Complimentary with your steaks is a creamed spinach that again, actually tasted like spinach and not like butter and cream, and mashed potatoes that were wonderful clouds of potato-y goodness.

Unfortunately we didn't stick around for dessert, which I don't regret because we were plenty full when we left. Though if there was one regret walking out, it was that I waited so long before going; that's not a mistake I'm going to make again.


Britni said...

Where is this? My husband loves steak and underpriced food... we're gonna have to check it out!

Richard Nixon said...

I'm drooling right now...

...with jealousy

Anonymous said...

Ray's is in a little tiny shopping center on Wilson Boulevard between Rosslyn and Courthouse in Arlington. Blink and you'll miss it. If you're going to go, go early and put your name on the list-- its the closest to a "reservation" you'll be able to get-- and then stroll up to Clarendon and walk around for a couple hours.

About the food-- the filet was incredible-- I don't usually like steak much at all, and this was heaven. I got mine with gratis sauteed garlic, which was a great accent. Also, note that Ray's places restrictions on how you can have your meat cooked (rare or medium rare in most cases-- few exceptions) and how long you can linger over your meal (an hour and a half, if there are people waiting-- and there will be). The difference between this kind of unappologetically demanding atmosphere and the non-accomodation of a place like, say, Bucks Fishing and Camping (yes, Carol, you) is that I've never heard anybody complain about the food at Ray's. Its that good.

Anonymous said...

This, as you know, is one of our favorites...glad to bring you into the Ray's fold!

Anonymous said...

My son and I have gone there twice. Ray's The Steaks is not a gimmicky place: straight and to the point:Great Steak!! My son has been to the legendary Peter Lugar in NY and says Ray's is every bit as good. THe sides taste the way they should:Fresh without being masked with seasoning. I recommend this to all Steak Lovers and plan to take my son there for his birthday in 2009