Saturday, September 3, 2011
Ray's the Steaks
Arlington, VA 22201
I guess I've never bought into the great American steakhouse obsession. The only two steakhouses that have truly blown me away were the Peter Luger Steak House in Brooklyn and The Strip House in the West Village. Part of the reason is that most steakhouses don't offer very much variety and I've always enjoyed preparing steak at home and due to home field bias, I think my steaks tend to taste better also. But, it's always good to have a steak restaurant in your back pocket in case you have friends who share the great American obsession. Ray's the Steaks is always talked about and the reviews looked great so how could you possibly miss?
We decided to go for a late dinner on a Saturday night and luckily the dinner crowd was just thinning out. The decor of the restaurant was sparse and almost had a wedding hall feel to it in such that it felt like all the chairs and tables would be stacked up and stored away after the dinner. Ambiance definitely wasn't a goal when the place was first designed. We ordered some slab bacon to start with which was bacon. I'm not sure I can even bring myself to critique bacon. It is what it is and it will always be loved unless it's burnt to crisp.
For our steaks, we ordered one classic Cowboy Rib Steak and the Rib-Eye "El Diablo" which is topped with the restaurant's own spicy sauce, garlic and red onion. For sides we got the accompanying mashed potatoes and creamed spinach along with an additional order of their roasted wild mushrooms. The last time I ordered a Cowboy Rib Steak, I received a huge piece of steak with what seemed like the whole rib still attached. This is not what we received at Ray's. The steak was rather thin and if the bone was part of the rib then it came from the smallest cow possible. The steak itself was under seasoned and dried out a bit too much. It didn't have the rich, juicy texture you would expect from a rib steak but was replaced by a dry, chewy flavor. The topping on "El Diablo" was very good and certainly gave a kick to the steak but it overpowered the steak's flavor and while we can be blamed by steak purists for ordering such a thing at a steakhouse, you should also be able to trust a steakhouse to ensure the steak is the main flavor of any dish. The sides were what you would expect from a steakhouse and nothing that would normally lift a meal.
Maybe I'm not one for steakhouses and I prefer more from a restaurant meal. But, when I do go steakhouses, Ray's the Steaks would not make it on my list of reliable steakhouses.