Sunday, August 8, 2010

Down By The River

When I tell people I live in the Northeast quadrant of the District, I have been known to get some funny looks. Yes, Northwest is the best known and considered to be the "safest" part of the city, but I am mere blocks from the capitol building and I feel plenty safe.

Michael Landrum of Ray's Hell Burger fame wants to help shatter that misconception, and he decided not to just talk the talk but to also walk the walk. After going through many concepts, Landrum opened Ray’s the Steaks at East River in Ward 7, with the hope of employing people from the community and feeding good, honest, well-priced food to everyone else.
Although Ray’s bills itself as a steak house, this isn’t your senator’s Capital Grille. The prices are extremely modest, with the most expensive item topping out at $22. A party of 4 can easily eat here for well under $100 (with drinks, tax and tip) and I can pretty much guarantee that you will have days upon days of leftovers.

The menu isn’t huge, but it is also large enough that just about everybody can find something that tempts their taste buds. My eyes (and stomach) immediately gravitated toward the crab bisque. The soup came out of the kitchen piping hot with bits of crab meat floating on the top. My boyfriend pretty much died over the concept of chili mac. He says that is undeniably delicious and unbelievable balanced. The creaminess of the mac tempers the heat of the chili and complements it beautifully.

Each entrĂ©e is served with your choice of a salad and 2 sides, and all of them could have come right out of your southern grandmother’s kitchen. They include sweet potato fries, cole slaw, baked potato and the fresh vegetable of the day. Each side and entree comes on its own plate, allowing the flavors of each individual dish to be showcased. All of the main dishes could be considered a home run. Each prime rib slice was oozing with juices that capture all of the delicious flavors that were already in the meat, but waiting to be discovered. Each steak that comes out of the kitchen will make you wonder why anyone ever paid over $20 for a good piece of meat that is over 5 oz. The portions served at Ray's are HUGE, giving you yet another reason to think that Granny is back in the kitchen and scheming to fatten you up before you leave her house.

I had few complaints about our evening or our service (especially knowing that this was the first restaurant job that many of the servers have had), but the number of extra serving plates does prevent an issue when it comes to room on the table. Ketchup bottles and water glasses are shoved to the windowsill and quickly forgotten, especially when there is food on the plates to be devoured.

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