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Ray's the Steaks


cjsadler
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Walked by the storefront on Monday and saw evidence of extensive re-modeling inside and notice for a liquor license hearing in the window. So progress is being made ...

Speaking of Silver Spring....any update on a possible opening date? I first heard "spring", then later, May. Are things still on track for pre-Memorial Day?

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I know this is sacrilege on this board, but isn't the unceasing attention about Ray's here getting a little ridiculous? This is the 16th flip of the thread, far exceeding places such as Maestro.

Don't get me wrong. Ray's is great, but it's steak folks. We're not talking El Bulli.

Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.

Mark Twain (1835 - 1910)

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I know this is sacrilege on this board, but isn't the unceasing attention about Ray's here getting a little ridiculous?  This is the 16th flip of the thread, far exceeding places such as Maestro.

Don't get me wrong.  Ray's is great, but it's steak folks.  We're not talking El Bulli.

Ah...but it is more affordable than Maestro and Metro accessible to boot....

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I know this is sacrilege on this board, but isn't the unceasing attention about Ray's here getting a little ridiculous?  This is the 16th flip of the thread, far exceeding places such as Maestro.

Don't get me wrong.  Ray's is great, but it's steak folks.  We're not talking El Bulli.

Beacuse of its price and style, Ray's is much more accessible (in every aspect) than a place like Maestro, so more people are able to go there more often. It follows that more people would end up posting about Ray's.

Bill Russell

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Ray's has 16 pages because they have earned through quality, accessibility and coontroversy. Ray's turns out excellent steaks at reasonable prices and friendly and accessible in a way that has won a loyal following . Chef Landrum has been very generous of his time and wit with the eGullet community. And there have been a couple of group dinners and factional dust-ups, each of which has generated significant traffic.

In short, Landrum and their team have earned their coverage which, it should be pointed out, no one has to read if they don't wish to.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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The owner posts regularly on this and Rockwell's board. In part because of my criticism of several of his "unique" policies (NOT his food; rather answering the phone a total of 8 hours a week and 90 minute dining limits-if he is successful he could start a trend in the DC area and most people on here have no regard for this) and ongoing criticism on the Washington Post website (almost 50% of the responses are less than enthusiastic) there has been a continuing effort to show support. Note that he regularly contributes on here and frequently hosts groups of those from this board. As for Maestro-that is the equal of any restaurant in the United States today and other than only two or three on this board who have actually been to it receives relatively small consideration. There is a strong tendency on here to reinforce opinions by continuing to rave about many of the same restaurants such as Corduroy, Palena, Eve and Ray's. All four of these are very good to excellent. Yet you rarely hear Obelisk, L'Auberge, the Prime Rib (FAR superior to Ray's in every respect and where anyone visiting this city SHOULD be going), Vidalia, Equinox, Tosca, Kinkead's and many others that are their equals or superior to even mentioned. In its own way Laboratorio is Maestro's equal and on par with the best in Italy. See if you can find a thread on this?

Anyway who is critical of Ray's in any way is roundly attacked and cursed. This very act has caused many outside of a group of regulars to shy away from this board. I also suspect that many on here do not order wine by the bottle when they go to Ray's nor do they order full course dinners. It is NOT as cheap as implied with entrees ranging up to $30 and a bill for two touching $150 rather than say $200 at the Capital Grill or the Prime Rib. The $50 difference is ambience, style, porcelain, crystal, length of stay and a significant qualitative difference in the overall experience.

I should also add that he has a private phone number that allows them to make a reservation anytime without the two hour a day, four day a week window. For those that don't have this unpublished number and may have a larger group than four (cannot be seated before 8:00PM) or that may want the possibililty of staying longer than 90 minutes (limit-he will ask you to leave if you go over this may not be as friendly of anexperience as represented. For whatever reason both he and his numerous eG DC supporters have no tolerance for anyone that doesn't agree with this. They can't gang up on the Post website or on Tom Sietsema's chat but they can and will gang up on anyone on here using the faceless nature of the internet to hurl expletives at anyone who disagrees with their opinions.

I disagree with Busboy, it is not worth the attention it recieves. There are many such as myself who believe his policies are suicidal to a restaurant operation. Look at the Post website. I have one post on it. There are many, many more on share the same opinions, even stronger. This is not the kind of publicity that an investor wants.

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I don't know if my adding a post makes me hypocritical, but...I agree with 8 track on this.

Yet the combo of wonderful steaks, a sanely priced, good wine list + annoying policies (to me at least, yet I suck it up if I want to eat there)like 90 minute seating and a special phone number (anyone care to deny this?) = very big thread.

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I agree that the policies do not seem to make good business sense. This is belied, however, by the fact that the restaurant continues to remain busy and seemingly profitable. Ultimately it works for them. I didn't have the pleasure of trying those other steakhouses you mentioned, Joe, so I can't compare. I did find myself enjoying Rays very much though.

DC has become a superb restaurant town. I was led on my recent visit by recs from this board. I was not disappointed. I am sure that there are other restaurants such as those that you mentioned that are also deserving. I had a great dinner on a previous trip at Obelisk and another at Galileo (in the distant past). I was less enthusiastic about Kinkead's, however.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Joe H continues to mischaracterize Ray's the Steaks is several respects. I get the impression that he thinks if he says it enough times, it will become true. Ray's the Steaks does NOT have a hard "90-minute" dining limit. One exists only in very limited circumstances, such as when the restaurant is fully booked in the 7:00-8:00 time frames and the diner wants to dine at say 6:00. In order to make sure there is a table for those who were their first (and by that I mean made their reserviations first), he will expect you to vacate the table before the next diners are expected to arrive. You will well notified of this limit and only one person I know of has a problem with it. It is not a difficult limit to meet. And the claim that a party of more than four can't get a table before 8:00 is patently false.

With regard to the prices, once again, Joe H mischaracterizes. The prices are Ray's are well below those at the high end steak houses and the quality of the steak equals or exceeds those other establishments. With your steak, you get mashed potatoes and creamed spinich. Accompaniments at the other establishments cost extra. Landrum also has a more reasonably priced wine list than the other establishments. Those that have dined at the other places generaly remark that they had a better meal for what they consider a reasonable price. That is Landrums goal.

Michael, don't change a thing.

Edited by mnebergall (log)
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There is a strong tendency on here to reinforce opinions by continuing to rave about many of the same restaurants such as Corduroy, Palena, Eve and Ray's.  All four of these are very good to excellent.  Yet you rarely hear Obelisk, L'Auberge, the Prime Rib (FAR superior to Ray's in every respect and where anyone visiting this city SHOULD be going), Vidalia, Equinox, Tosca, Kinkead's and many others that are their equals or superior to even mentioned. 

The reputation of most of those restaurants you mentioned in your list of neglected restaurants is that they all used to be a lot better than they are now, with most having seen better days and are either coasting or lost their way a bit (I'd except Tosca from that characterization).

Many of the regular posters (or at least those who were more regular posters in the recent past) are younger and/or have not been in town long enough to have the lingering respect for these faded places that you are expecting.

The reason that the restaurants that receive accolades on here receive those accolades is because they are doing good work now, not five or ten or twenty years ago.

Everyone has the right to post praise or criticisms of a particular restaurant. And no one should be shouted down for speaking up one way or another. But when it becomes a single minded crusade, either for or against, everyone else has the right to ignore those posts, no matter how loudly they are being shouted.

Edited by bilrus (log)

Bill Russell

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Joe H continues to mischaracterize Ray's the Steaks is several respects.  I get the impression that he thinks if he says it enough times, it will become true.  Ray's the Steaks does NOT have a hard "90-minute" dining limit.  One exists only in very limited circumstances, such as when the restaurant is fully booked in the 7:00-8:00 time frames and the diner wants to dine at say 6:00.  In order to make sure there is a table for those who were their first (and by that I mean made their reserviations first), he will expect you to vacate the table before the next diners are expected to arrive.  You will well notified of this limit and only one person I know of has a problem with it.  It is not a difficult limit to meet.  And the claim that a party of more than four can't get a table before 8:00 is patently false.

With regard to the prices, once again, Joe H mischaracterizes.  The prices are Ray's are well below those at the high end steak houses and the quality of the steak equals or exceeds those other establishments.  With your steak, you get mashed potatoes and creamed spinich.  Accompaniments at the other establishments cost extra.  Landrum also has a more reasonably priced wine list than the other establishments.   Those that have dined at the other places generaly remark that they had a better meal for what they consider a reasonable price.  That is Landrums goal.

  Michael, don't change a thing.

This is the quote from Michael Landrumm in a post of his from March 16th of this year on the "Tom Sietsema Chat" thread:

I typically do not seat parties of larger than 4 before 8. They almost always prove to be disruptive of service and other guests' experience at earlier times.

Also, if a table tries to book at 6 and that table is not previously reserved for 7:30 I will acommodate that table with no limits (first come first served, remember?). That almost never happens. But no, I do not make every table available for seating at 6. I stagger seating.

I don't start driving in fourth gear, either, or brush my teeth after going to bed. I also do not board a rollercoaster while the train is still moving and full, of after it has left the platform. It would be nice if I could demand to ride twice, or even three times, in a row, though, and make others wait until I was done riding. Better yet, my own private roller coaster that no one else could ride.

This post has been edited by landrumm2000: Mar 16 2005, 02:28 PM

What else have I misrepresented? Ray's IS 25% cheaper than the two restaurants I mentioned. That 25% is the cost of what I listed. His wine list? It is NOT more reasonably priced than the Prime Rib's.

I have misrepresented absolutely nothing.

Edited by Busboy (log)
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I should also add that he has a private phone number that allows them to make a reservation anytime without the two hour a day, four day a week window.  For those that don't have this unpublished number and may have a larger group than four (cannot be seated before 8:00PM) or that may want the possibililty of staying longer than 90 minutes (limit-he will ask you to leave if you go over this may not be as friendly of anexperience as represented.

I do NOT have the private number and have had a party of 6 sit at 6pm with no problem. The only restriction was that I had to be out by 7:30p and it was my choice to accept or decline making the reservation. While I was there there was no effort to rush us out and we easily made it out in the required time.

Wearing jeans to the best restaurants in town.
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For whatever it's worth, about ten minutes ago, I called the regular number and booked a fourtop for August 13th at 6 PM, under a friend's name. I asked if it mattered if it was three instead of four, and the congenial hostess said no, it didn't. She did not mention a 90-minute time limit. She asked if it was for a special occasion, and I said no. Then right before the call ended, I asked if we needed to vacate at a certain hour, and she said they prefer 7:30, but then reassured me that the meal would not be rushed, and that we would comfortably finish within 90 minutes.

I wonder how many of us have actually eaten at Ray's since Michael Hartzer, the former Executive Chef at Citronelle, began running the kitchen?

Cheers,

Rocks

Edited by DonRocks (log)
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There are many such as myself who believe his policies are suicidal to a restaurant operation. 

Landrum's clearly on the ropes now. Just look at him stagger. How long can the ref keep this one going. Oh, look, he's coming in now to issue a standing 8 count. It's almost over sports fans. Looks like "Iron Mike" Landrum's meteoric rise is coming to an end.

Look at me...I'm holding my breath.

Blah Blah Blah. (had to throw in a few four letter words!)

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I believe I have Don. And I assume it was Chef Hartzner because someone referred to him as Michael and he certainly wasn't the Michael I know. Food was absolutely stellar. However I called the private number to make that reservation so does that mean I get shunned now?

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Joe,

I have been your one of your biggest proponents in the past because I do think the 90 minute thing isn't perfect and can easily cause more problems than it relieves, and I like that you don't shy down from pointing out these flaws to a room full of Ray's fans. But this horse is dead, bro. There's no reason to keep bringing this up - anyone who wants to read the same debate all over again can go back a few pages.

And as to your question about why certain restaurants get more coverage, I think part of it is due to the fact that the average person can't afford the restaurants you mentioned. Heck, the majority of the Palena talk is about food in their cafe. I'd love to go to Maestro as much as the next society donor, but it'll have to wait.

Best,

Jason

Edited by jmc8y (log)

I wanna say something. I'm gonna put it out there; if you like it, you can take it, if you don't, send it right back. I want to be on you.

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Oy. Talk about your self-fulfilling prophecy. Complain about the proliferation of posts on Ray's and trigger another five pages of debate on the subject!

My goal was not to trash Ray's. I think Ray's is great.

Rather, I was lamenting what I have noticed is a drop off in discussion about DC's many other fine restaurants. I check in every few days here for news of places I should visit, but see a lot of retreading old ground. I'm guilty of not starting new threads myself, so I pledge to try and do so more often.

Tonight, I'm heading to CityZen, and will report back!

Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.

Mark Twain (1835 - 1910)

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If anybody has a reservation Friday, July 15 through Sunday, July 17 and has an extra seat at the table, please PM me. After reading this thread I'm dying to try the place and I'm going to be in town over those dates. I am a clean and well-mannered individual! :biggrin:

Don Moore

Nashville, TN

Peace on Earth

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If anybody has a reservation Friday, July 15 through Sunday, July 17 and has an extra seat at the table, please PM me.  After reading this thread I'm dying to try the place and I'm going to be in town over those dates.  I am a clean and well-mannered individual!  :biggrin:

Yes but have you had all your shots?

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For the record:

The only "rule" or "policy" at Ray's The Steaks is first-come, first-served.

Anyone can call and reserve an unrestricted table for any day and any time, provided they do so with enough notice.

Beyond that, we do whatever we can to accommodate anyone the best we can, however we can, so long as that does not discommodate any other guest.

This is not always convenient for those who come later.

This is a simple principle learned, hopefully, in kindergarten.

Some people, however, have a problem with that or do not have the intellectual grasp to understand this basic principle.

For the record:

I give a private cell phone number to loyal, long-term regular guests and to hot chicks.

Sometimes the boyfriend/husband/father/brother/friend/or soon-to-be-ex of a hot chick will also end up with my private number.

Not all loyal, long-term regular guests have my private number usually due to an oversight on my part, nor do all hot chicks, sadly.

If you do not have my private cell phone number and would like it, then bring in a hot chick--it's just that simple.

For the record:

If any one has any lingering questions or concerns, or if any one feels that he has been treated shabbily at Ray's, I am always available to discuss them personally. I will always find the time for that and I am remarkably easy to reach.

I would much prefer to answer questions directly than to have incomplete or incorrect information posted on a public forum.

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It seems as though every time I leave the computer for twenty minutes, this thread gets pissy again. If it happens again, I will lock the thread.

Ad hominem attacks are against Society regs and will not be tolerated; endless, by-now-pointless and vitriolic discussions will be deleted mercilessly.

If you don't have anything nice to say, say it politely.

Thank you.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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I've looked through the first 2-3 pages of this thread and have somehow missed the phone number and address. Could someone please repost?

I had been waiting for the SS location to open but feel we must try Ray's ASAP just to know WTF you people are going on about.

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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