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Ray’s (ing) the bar! March 4, 2010

Posted by osyrn in Miscellaneous.
Tags: , , ,

A good friend of ours, who several years ago got married and moved to New Jersey, has been in town for the past week or so for military duties (she comes to town every few months for this).  Every time she’s in town she talks about how she wants to eat dinner at Ray’s the Steaks in Arlington, but until this trip we have not been able to schedule it.  Two nights ago, six of us found ourselves enjoying the culinary experience that is Ray’s, and I must say our dinner was like all the other times I’ve eaten there, amazing!

A quick blurb about Ray’s.  It was opened (in it’s original location in Rosslyn) back in 2002.  It was a basic, no frills steak house (and pretty much still is today, even though it has moved to a new fancier location in Courthouse).  The walls were bare and the furniture somewhat plain, but honestly, you weren’t there for the decor.  You went for the steak, and oh baby, the steak is good!  I can’t speak to how the restaurant is run today, but when it originally opened and was nowhere near as popular, the owner, Mike, hand selected all his beef and hand cut every steak.

My first experience at Ray’s was back in ’02 when my good friends Justin and Laura held their rehearsal dinner there.  They wanted a small, intimate atmosphere, with impeccable food to share with their loved ones, and Mike delivered.  They reserved the entire restaurant (which at the time was tiny), and before I finished eating my first steak at Ray’s, I was hooked.  It is, without comparison, the best steak I’ve ever had.  Mike has ruined me for steak forever, because every steak I eat now is compared to what I get at Ray’s, and so far, nothing has come close.  While I have sampled many of the steaks on the menu (off of my friends plates, hehe), I always get the fillet au poivre.  It is a thing of beauty!

But, believe it or not, it’s not all about the steak (although it’s mostly about the steak, haha), but it’s several little things that Mike does that make the entire dining experience so enjoyable.  In the wintertime, when the check is brought to your table, you also get a demitasse cup of homemade hot chocolate.  It’s a perfect little sweet something to top you off after eating a huge meal.  His side dishes (homemade mashed potatoes and creamed spinach are standard with every meal, at no extra cost) are served family style on little skillets.  Also, his appetizers are very good (especially the sherried crab bisque, mmmm), and his deserts are incredible (the white chocolate mousse will make you want to go home and smack yo momma).

I think it goes without saying (but I’m going to anyway), I love Ray’s the Steaks.  Now, while Ray’s is by far not even close to being the most expensive restaurant in the DC area, it’s not the cheapest either.  Because of this (and because my money tree in the back yard has yet to bare any fruit) I only go to Ray’s once every 6 months or so (maybe 3 times a year at most).  Which, actually is for the best, by only eating there 2-3 times a year, I appreciate it even more when I’m there.  I think the old saying is true, “too much of a good thing can be bad.”

Mike certainly has a hit on his hands, and is expanding on his success.  He already has a few other restaurants, including Ray’s Hell Burgers which serves awesome gourmet burgers.   My recommendation to you, if you get the chance, check out Ray’s the Steaks.  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.  Will it be the best steak you’ve ever had?  Maybe, maybe not.  I’ve had folks tell me they’ve had better, but, everybody has their own tastes, so that’s okay.

For me, every time I eat there it’s a wonderful experience.  One, because I’m always there with great friends or family, and two, because the food is so incredible.  I guess you could say, it’s a food of love thing.