Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Sign in to follow this  
cjsadler

Ray's the Steaks

Recommended Posts

As part of a weekend of gustatory birthday excess two weeks ago, some friends took me to Ray's. A steakhouse is not really my first choice of destination for dining (I ok'd it in a deep voice in order to retain my manhood, though). However, I was totally impressed. In fact, the only time I've had a better steak is at Peter Luger's. I had a NY strip, which was so well textured, charred, cooked to perfect temperature and full of dry-aged beefy goodness that I could have eaten two of them. The brandied mushroom cream on top (the house special) was nice, but I ended up taking most of it off to just focus on the steak. It came with sides of mashed potatoes and creamed spinach spiked with nutmeg all for the grand price of $22. The skirt and rib-eyes I got a taste of were just as good. I don't know why I'd ever go to Morton's, Ruth Chris', et al, ever again. The wine prices are a bargain as well. One bottle, the excellent Onyx Kroon from South Africa, was only $34 ($22 retail). The meal was topped off with a demitasse of rich hot chocolate for each of us, brought with the bill.

It's a really tiny place, so make reservations. Not much in the way of atmosphere and it is LOUD in there. Sorta like eating in a warehouse. Ray seems to wander out to the dining room every fifteen minutes in his stained chef's jacket, checking to see if all is well... and it is.


Chris Sadler

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My experience was similar last summer. The service was great, although almost overly attentive. It seemed we had multiple waitresses stopping to see that everything was going smoothly.

The food was amazing, even for my vegetarian wife. She was given grilled red pepper and mushrooms, seasoned with one of the seasonings used on the steaks (can't remember name). All of us enjoyed the mashed potatoes and creamed spinach served family style; and we were given a little to-go box of the creamed spinach on the way out. I started with a spinach salad that was good, but nothing special. The steaks are the highlight, everything else was secondary. I don't think we even had desserts.

The chef did come around when we where there also. He made sure everyone was pleased with their food specifically asking about the vegetarian entree, and my friend's steak. He had initially asked for a NY Strip, "Pittsburgh" style, and was told the chef would not make it that way (I never asked what exactly that meant). What he was given, a strip with the same seasonings on the mushroom/pepper plate, was "the best steak he'd ever eaten". I had a NY Strip w/gorgonzola and butter.

It was loud then too, and reservations were needed on a Saturday night. We had a couple bottles of a lesser expensive Merlot, and I think spent ~$140 for four of us. I'd go back in a second given the opportunity.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8<

He had initially asked for a NY Strip, "Pittsburgh" style, and was told the chef would not make it that way (I never asked what exactly that meant). 

>8

Pittsburgh-style is also referred to as 'black and blue'.

Charred on the outside, rare inside.


...I thought I had an appetite for destruction but all I wanted was a club sandwich.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Rosslyn. Head up the hill to red meat.

Make sure you drink plenty of wine, and do say hi to Michael (chef's name is Michael, not Ray, and he's kind of the man).


Firefly Restaurant

Washington, DC

Not the body of a man from earth, not the face of the one you love

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ray's right now is the best restaurant in Arlington; at its price point, and even given its few flaws, it just might be the best restaurant in all of Northern Virginia. Service and attitude are impressive, lots of interesting wines at fair prices, reds are served too warm, desserts are not worth ordering. We've dined there maybe 5 times--as recently as last week--and finally tried our first appetizer: the shrimp scampi. It was so excellent I'll have to order it from now on. I missed the charming little demitasse of hot chocolate, which they've stopped serving, presumably because it's getting warmer. I'm most partial to the hangar steak (medium rare) there, one of their "butcher's cuts," which change from day to day. Ask for it when you make your reservation if you're interested.

If you are willing to eat early, you often can talk or walk your way in at very short notice by promising to give up your table by 7:30.


Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i was at ray's last fall and have been meaning to go back. one person in our party deemed it the best filet she's ever had (including morton's, bobby van's, etc). I had a strip that was very good. that whole little strip plaza is quite an impressive dining destination - Guajillo has great Mexican food. Pho 75 (i'm not a fan of the soup but it's well done here). And Village Bistro is a nice neighborhood restaurant. there's also that coffee place, who's name escapes me right now......

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is so embarassing to admit because I usually am quick with wordplay and such, but... I didn't get the pun of the name until two days ago. :blink:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This is so embarassing to admit because I usually am quick with wordplay and such, but... I didn't get the pun of the name until two days ago. :blink:

Took me a while too.


Bill Russell

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I need to try Ray's. :) In Rosslyn I've only tried Appetizers Plus (bleh) amd China Garden, which was good for dimsum.


-Jason

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The China Garden love never fails to amaze me. I work in that building, and China Garden is where people eat when it is too nasty to go outside and get something else! Their food has always been greasy and underseasoned :wacko: , their service brusque. The only good thing to me is that you get free hot tea.

I do like Village Bistro in the same shopping center as Ray's, and can't wait to try Ray's when I can get a reservation before 9:30pm!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The China Garden love never fails to amaze me. I work in that building, and China Garden is where people eat when it is too nasty to go outside and get something else! Their food has always been greasy and underseasoned :wacko: , their service brusque. The only good thing to me is that you get free hot tea.

I do like Village Bistro in the same shopping center as Ray's, and can't wait to try Ray's when I can get a reservation before 9:30pm!

I've only had their dimsum (weekends), so that is all that I am talking about.

they do have service problems...but most dimsum places do.


-Jason

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I used to really like Ray's the Steaks when they served hamburgers along with the affordable steak & fish dishes. I would go there fairly regularly with friends and families - you never needed a reservation & could be seated immediately. Then they decided to raise their prices & become "reservation" only. I tried to go there one night with my parents & was turned away, even though the dining room was completely emptly except for 2 tables. We ate at Guajillo instead, and when we left Guajillo, Ray's was STILL empty. Shortly thereafter Tom Sietsema reviewed it & it became wildly popular & now you DO really need a reservation to get in (I've never been back though). I'm not much of a steak-man, but their hamburgers used to be amazing (with unlimited high-quality toppings).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm going to Ray's tomorrow (Monday) night. Can't wait!

Are there more hits/misses those of you who have been care to share? I'm psyched to hear they offer hangar steak as it's one of my favorites. But I'm open.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Drink as much wine as you can. Cool, good stuff for cheap.


Edited by John W. (log)

Firefly Restaurant

Washington, DC

Not the body of a man from earth, not the face of the one you love

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a 7 pm reservation for two people at Ray's tonight...sadly I cannot use it.

Before I canceled it, I thought I would see if anyone wanted to go in my place. Please PM me asap if so.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A week after my original reservation, I made it to Ray's the Steaks last night with one of my friends. In short, the steak was a revelation to me on a number of levels.

First, though, the decor. It is indeed as minimalist as everyone has described. Minimalist is a kind word for it actually. White walls, basic tables and chairs, some wine on shelves that divides the kitchen from the dining room and...that's pretty much it.

While I waited for my friend to arrive, I perused the wine list, the menu and a handout dedicated to describing the meat and the done-ness options. The wine list is interesting, as well as reasonably priced - interesting in a good way, that is, and later I learned exactly how that came to pass via a 20 minute conversation with Michael-not-Ray.

My friend arrived and we ordered. Based on other reviews we'd read, we skipped appetizers and moved straight to the steaks. There must be fifteen or so different options listed on the menu and our server was eager to please via any customizations we might like (e.g., the $1 addition of blue cheese crumbles, etc.). I was intrigued by the NY strip black and blue and said as much; the host said it was a great choice. But truthfully, I was nervous. I hadn't had a NY strip in years and I couldn't remember much about how I liked the cut.

My friend ordered the house special which, to me, sounded rather busy with lots of saucing and spicing going on. But when our steaks came out, they looked awfully similar and I wasn't sure I had received the right steak. When I cut into mine, it also looked more like medium well/well than my requested medium.

Michael stopped by and asked what he could do. I said that I hadn't realized that the black of the black & blue was an au poivre situation (duh, I know think to myself) and also that the steak wasn't medium. Michael was so nice about it that I was fully prepared to just eat the damn steak, but he insisted and within minutes, I had a new NY strip with just the blue cheese. He also sent an extra order of the mashed potatoes that he'd seen me enjoying (a lot).

The steak situation opened quite a dialogue and we ended up talking with Michael about everything from the DC restaurant scene to his philosophy on wine for at least twenty minutes. He's quite the host - my friend and I really enjoyed chatting with him. He mentioned that he's working on the spring/summer menu which will include the much-loved chopped steak (offered last night as a butcher's cut - so tempting - at, I believe $10.95) and a hanger steak.

Back to the steak...quite simply, it was out of this world. The cut was NOTHING like the NY strip/shoe leather my mother used to serve (sorry Mom - I still love you!). Seriously, her strip was thin - maybe 3/4" thick - with shiny chucks of fat in selected spots. And it was well-done, always well-done. Blah.

This hunk of beef, by contrast, was extraordinary. Thick, tender, juicy with a marvelous flavor. I loved it (and I can't wait to eat the last bit of it, packed to go by Michael who generously added more potatoes and spinach).

Prices are great - most steaks are in the $20s and they come with the aforementioned sides served family style.

Michael sent us a complimentary dessert - a rich delicious chocolate mousse with fresh whipped cream. I rarely order mousse, but man, this was so good. I can't wait to go back.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I was intrigued by the NY strip black and blue and said as much; the host said it was a great choice.

That's really interesting - whenever I hear a steak referred to as "black and blue", it means Pittsburgh rare, charred black and crusty on the outside and cool and practically raw on the inside (my preferred temp for NY strips). It's the first time I've seen it used to refer to a steak with peppercorns and blue cheese. Cute. I guess Michael-not-Ray is quite the wordplay enthusiast.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I was intrigued by the NY strip black and blue and said as much; the host said it was a great choice.

That's really interesting - whenever I hear a steak referred to as "black and blue", it means Pittsburgh rare, charred black and crusty on the outside and cool and practically raw on the inside (my preferred temp for NY strips). It's the first time I've seen it used to refer to a steak with peppercorns and blue cheese. Cute. I guess Michael-not-Ray is quite the wordplay enthusiast.

Me too. I thought it meant rarer than rare.


peak performance is predicated on proper pan preparation...

-- A.B.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I was intrigued by the NY strip black and blue and said as much; the host said it was a great choice.

That's really interesting - whenever I hear a steak referred to as "black and blue", it means Pittsburgh rare, charred black and crusty on the outside and cool and practically raw on the inside (my preferred temp for NY strips). It's the first time I've seen it used to refer to a steak with peppercorns and blue cheese. Cute. I guess Michael-not-Ray is quite the wordplay enthusiast.

Me too. I thought it meant rarer than rare.

Me three, but it sure sounds good.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Snuck in this Sunday eve. Had the rib eye with horseradish cream. Lovely (cool, red center) rare, no temp complaints here. Needed a red meat fix as I missed the office the previous eve.

Had more than one bottle of wine, the Pommard, Voillot, 1er cru "Les Combes," 1999 for something like $45, was memorable. Michael works very hard on his list so you don't have to.


Edited by John W. (log)

Firefly Restaurant

Washington, DC

Not the body of a man from earth, not the face of the one you love

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So after a four hour 86' Bordeaux fueled lunch at the office. Our tour leader (a charming polish fellow from the Ewok village.) Invited us to a cookout in the rolling countryside. Countryside as defined as "Anywhere my dog can crap on a non-asphalt surface." Speaking of crap, redemption from last years poo-tato incident is required and as it turns out our guide can cook as well and has opted to take a stab at patties of dead bovine (hold the Bourdain bukkake). But alas we're all lazy fat fucks in training so after more Bordeaux we bag the shopping trip to fresh fields. And just as well after all those Milosevician crimes agains't fromage stories that sufaced last week.

Enter Ray's

Growing up a child of classic rock, nothing pissed me off more than people who would say "Jethro Tull is the best flutist ever." No dumbass! Jethro Tull is the band. Ian Anderson is the singer/flutist. Ray's The Steaks is a restaurant name. There is no Ray however there is a Michael who I'm will to bet, unlike Ian Anderson has no musical talent at all. How could he, there's no time to pratice. He's lives at The Steak. Since opening he's worked every single day,seven days a week for something like nine months. Fuck that! And he was wearing a friggin smile so I had to ask "When do you even find time to rough up the suspect?" and he just kept on with that smile which I found unnerving as if I was bearing witness to the act right then and there.

By nature I simply not trust people who don't drink, swear, or eat meat and so we hit it right off. Or so I think. He's probably calling Wabeck back right demanding that he never bring that prick bastard back. If that's the case tough titties, cause I'm gonna by a once a weeker. I love the place. A barren room with no art, chipped plates, crappy glassware, and cutlery to match. Oh and I forgot BOMB-ASS-FOOD! My wife consider's herself something of a connoisseur of French Onion Soup. She may have got a half a spoon in before it was removed from her. Sure she's pissed and the divorce will be hard but I'll get though knowing I can cook that burgundian delight down and mainline it as if it were synthesized heroine. For main courses you can have steak, steak, or steak. We opted for the second option all different and selected by Michael. With it comes mashed pots creamed spinach and he sent some other sides to try in addition. This is good meat as a fine piece as you'll find this side of Kobe without the unnessasary crusty DNA laden panties. At this point we're worked into an eating frenzy and families yet to be served are looking on with clear cut envy shrouded in disdain as they most certainly are taking shrapnel as we jockey plates back and forth. Michael is working the throngs and having to tell people to just ignore us. "Their chefs" he said. "Oh" as it becomes all to clear that maybe they're in to close a proximity, like zoo goers watching the lions take down one of their own.

Bottom line, go to Ray's. It's easy it find, even if you loathe the burbs as I. Get a salad, pick steak they're all coming with spinach and potato so you won't have to expend brain power and drink enough to get fall down drunk cheaply. Dessert, as they say in Glengary Glenross is for closers. And there's so much damn food your not even going to be able to close your seatbelt. As a matter of fact I brought home more food than a tasting menu from my place. You owe it to yourself,you owe it Michael, You owe it to me. Check out Ray's and if you go, find out if and when I might be allowed back.


Jarad C. Slipp, One third of ???

He was a sweet and tender hooligan and he swore that he'd never, never do it again. And of course he won't (not until the next time.) -Stephen Patrick Morrissey

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One can only hope the pictures came out.


Firefly Restaurant

Washington, DC

Not the body of a man from earth, not the face of the one you love

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
One can only hope the pictures came out.

Nothing quite says "good night" like sharing a 45 second ride with five styrofoam boxes of leftovers of the best steaks in town, a handicapped 'plaket' dangling from the rearview mirror (mind you, on the very day the 'handicapped' one ran a 5K race for brain cancer research)

...and coming home to six more delicious bottles of wine, 2 dogs and watching Tony Soprano suffer an anxiety attack in the tee box.

*Waking up to a 40 degree rainy Monday gave me great pleasure.


...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...