Recently Rare Steak and Seafood opened their doors in downtown Washington, DC a mere steps from the White House.
When you enter on their ground floor, a rich leather and dark wooden atmosphere greats you with a sunken down lounge area. The massive long bar against the right side begins with a raw bar adorned with lobster, shrimp, clams, oysters and more. When you are led up their gran spiral staircase to their formal dinning room (with a menu only offered upstairs), the white table cloth draped four-tops and semi-circle booths make it feel as if you’ve stepped into a 1950s elegant steakhouse where you half expect to see Don Draper at the bar (which, pro-tip, there is a small bar upstairs).
To start, an old familiar face (Tom for those who remember his beaming personality from Cap Grille and Del Friscos) comes to say hello. As he begins to praise the seafood, fresh daily, and the local hand picked crab, and the locally caught oysters, he catches himself and describes their house made garlic knots.
Delivered hot and flaky, with the perfect amount of large grain salt flakes on top with fresh cheese, the crispy exterior gave way to a pillowy, cloud like interior texture that only improved as you inched closer to the center. No marinara sauce needed, please.
We know there are many steakhouses close-by that have amazing seafood, so we had to sample.
Hand picked blue crab meat so delicate, sweet, and fresh there’s nothing in DC that compares.
Jumbo Tiger prawn shrimp cocktail (who does that?!?) plump, perfectly cooked, chilled (without a bit of freeze to them) in a delightfully sweet cocktail sauce.
Big eye tuna sashimi with olives. The umami flavor from the salty olives transported this otherwise simple looking spread into bites that exploded with flavor. More olives in tuna, everywhere (very Sicilian…)
Being a steakhouse after all, we asked Tom what he recommended. The 50oz double bone “Union Chop” dry-aged porterhouse cut. Sure, why not.
Let’s get a few things straight: this is not inexpensive, this is not small, this will not come out quickly, and this will likely leave you and your companion taking it home. This is however an amazing piece of meat. A few things impressed: it was perfectly cooked, nice and charred on the outside and completely tender rare in the middlemost sections, and more medium rare as you move from center to edge. Second, it was perfectly seasoned. There wasn’t a salt shaker or pepper mill to be seen, and none were offered. The meat was perfectly salted. Third, well, let’s face it, two bones to gnaw on!
The sides were a twist on classics, with their own unique spins. The “Potato Dauphine” were divine! Crispy, lightly flash fried exterior gave way to fluffy, delicate, piping hot potatoes inside. Think of a fried mashed potato fritter with a thin crispy shell.
Their take on the traditional “creamed spinach” is spinach, watercress, and cream that is thick, rich, warm and satisfying.
What do you end a delicious dinner at a Midwest steakhouse with? Why coffee cake of course. Thick, not too sweet, perfectly crunchy and buttery topping (cake a tad dry however…but we had plenty of Turley left to wash it down).
Conclusion: if the service and quality of the food stays where it’s at, welcome Rare to the top ranks of DC steak and seafood houses.