Washington, DC 20005
WHAT THE F*CK HAPPENED TO MY BLOG POST!?!? I KNOW I WROTE ONE!
So, I had written a whole post on my experience at Bobby Van's and I log on tonight to find that the post was mostly gone and it reverted back so that there isn't even a Bobby Van's post. This is a recreation of my original post and hopefully I capture everything....For f*ck's sake.
I read this article by Tom Sietsema about the state of DC's steakhouses. It sounds like every few years, Sietsema takes a tour of a host of steakhouses (over the span of three months! THREE MONTHS) in and around the district and rates them. His verdict is, while there are high points to be found across all the establishments he visited, that the perfect steakhouse experience is a rare bird when it comes to DC. After reading this, I tried to re-tweet the link but being a twidiot, I somehow failed to post it. More importantly, my tweet was asking if this was really true? That there isn't a perfect steakhouse experience in DC? My other reaction was that I'd like to sample steakhouses on someone else's dime for the next three months.
Well, enter the perfect storm o work this week. We have an event going on where there are out-of-town guests that need to be fed, entertained and the first night is scheduled to be Bobby Van's Steakhouse. On Friday, I have another work dinner which is being held at Charlie Palmer Steak. I know. I know. Two doesn't make a comparison but I can at least pretend to be following in Sietsema's footsteps for at least a week. The unfortunate part about work functions is that there is very little picture taking (especially at the table) so I'll just have to appropriately describe my experiences.
I remember going to Bobby Van's in NYC and kind of remembering that it was a good time. When I arrived at the one in DC, I found it to be a bit more casual than I've seen at steakhouses. It still had the standard wood paneling and old school sprawling bar with the wait staff in ties and matching lab coats (or at least they looked like lab coats). But, the clientele was mostly in shorts and golf shirts, except for the after work crowd of course. I'm thinking that Bobby Van's may not be in the upper echelon of steakhouses in Washington DC but nevertheless a steakhouse.
It was a work function so it was a set menu with just a few choices. To start with, everyone got a Caesar salad and then had a choice of roasted chicken, crab cakes or a filet. For dessert, you could choose a cheesecake or a chocolate cake. They also included your traditional sides of sauteed mushrooms, creamed spinach and mashed potatoes. I usually order a rib eye when I go to steakhouses (something about the extra fat content, don't judge) and thought about the crab cakes but this being a steakhouse, I went with the filet and picked chocolate for dessert. Even though, we had limited choices, it was shaping up to be a pretty classic steakhouse dinner.
I hadn't had a caesar salad in a really long time and as they go, this one was pretty flavorful. What made it was the croutons had the perfect toast, some additional infused flavor from herbs and were the right size where it was just enough for a bite. The sides, for the most part, seemed pretty spot on. I prefer mashed potatoes to be on the creamier side and these were certainly that but bordered on becoming whipped cream with a hint of potato. The creamed spinach, however, had the right consistency and the welcome bitterness of the spinach came through. The mushrooms were presented in big chunk quarters so they had an extra hearty feel to them and their earthy flavors shone through. They used some truffle oil to saute them which added a nice depth of flavor.
I ordered my filet like I always order my steaks, medium rare and the steak came out closer to the rare side than medium which I didn't mind at all. The char was good on the steak and the inside was nice and pink with a bit of cooling in the extreme middle. The portion size felt pretty big for a filet but you'd never catch me complaining about that. The only aspect of the steak that I found a bit odd was that there was a strip of sinew & fat along one side and since it was filet, the fat had not rendered all the way through. This made that portion particularly chewy and unappetizing I didn't think filets had any of that but I'm no steak expert.
The chocolate cake was chocolate cake with chocolate frosting with whipped cream on top. 'Nuff said.
Overall, the experience at Bobby Van's fell right into my mid-range of expectations. The atmosphere was more laid back than I'm used to in places like these. I regret not having looked over the menu to see if they had more to offer than normal steakhouse fare so maybe if I come back The sides and salads were prepared well and came out pretty flavorful. The dessert was decadent and filling. The steak itself was cooked well and close enough to how I wanted it done. I'm not sure I would mark Bobby Van's as a place I would go back to but I wouldn't necessarily turn down any dinners there in the future.