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DaveO

Rare Steakhouse and Tavern, a Madison, Wisconsin-Based Steakhouse in Downtown DC

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I know this is difficult to believe.  A new steakhouse is opening in Downtown DC, Rare Steakhouse and Tavern at 1595 Eye Street, NW.

Per one of the staff, opening, possibly a soft opening will be 10/25.  I've seen a different report for 11/1/17.

Its about time.  Not enough steaks in Downtown DC.   But on a different note, this one will serve breakfast.  That is completely revolutionary. 

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I ate at the Rare on the Square in Madison, WI last year and thought it was quite good, as steakhouses go.  Too long ago, however, for me to provide any real details beyond that.  To put this comment in context, I usually eat steak/go to a steak house only about 2 - 3 times a year.  This is not for health or ethical concerns, but rather for an overwhelming preference for other types of cuisine.

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I think the $32 cauliflower steak is a result of the restaurant' location.  Both scream that they're focusing their efforts on the expense-account types, some of whom might not eat meat, and area residents who don't look at prices on a menu.

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Dinner at Rare Tavern on Saturday night was hit and meh. The cheese curds (It is a Milwaukee steak house after all...) and charcuterie board were very good appetizers. For an entree, I had the dry-aged pork porterhouse which was overcooked. The meat wasn't too dry, but it was rock hard which was disappointing since one of the points of dry-aging is to tenderize. The butterscotch pudding for desert was excellent.

The service was strange. We had a group of four and the bartender took one drink order, made it, and then wandered off. He then seemed surprised when we flagged him down to order three more cocktails. Service was friendly, but our server seemed nervous and kept tripping over the remarks he was clearly required to make. Also, in our 2.5 hours there, we witnessed glassware being dropped on the floor three different times including once right next to us.

The entire restaurant and bar was nearly empty at 8pm on a Saturday night. Given their location and price point, perhaps they're busier during the week for expense account dinners. But based on our meal there, I'm not sure this place will last much longer. I won't miss it.

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Curiousity got the best of me and I took a look at the menu. The Tavern Menu is actually pretty normal in terms of prices, and there's no Cauliflower Steak on either the Tavern or Steakhouse menu now.

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Had a quick lunch in the tavern portion of the restaurant yesterday. The Pot Roast was perfect for a windy and cold day - and a GIANT portion. Between the roast and the accompanying mushrooms and pureed potatoes there was more than enough for two lunches. Not sure I would return for dinner, but perfectly suited to a convenient business lunch.

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I had a superlative dinner here this week. We ate upstairs in the formal dining room. The noise level was low making it easy to converse. There was the obligatory TV pundit sighting, marking this as one of the power  spots in town. I'll confess that was dining with the GM, Michael Sternberg, but watching other tables in the room, I could see that everyone else seemed to be as well taken care as we were. We began with raw bar- mussels, oysters and clams. Outstanding. Next, warm lobster salad could not have been better. It was lightly dressed and perfectly poached. Rare has an extensive dry aging program and all the steaks seem to have between 21 to 45 and more days of age. I chose the rib cap steak (the only steak on the menu not dry aged because of the texture of the meat) with Molly Sauce (hollandaise with mushroom duxelles folded in) that may have been the best steak I've eaten in many years. Michaael brought some 40+ year old Cote Roties which were interesting and good accompaniments to the steaks. At that age, the wines shed their weight and show off an interesting delicacy. I only made it half way through my steak as all the cuts are generous. It was still delicious the next day with scrambled eggs. I finished with chocolate pot de crème, which I could also not finish. The service was genial, very well informed and attentive. I really like this place. 

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1 hour ago, Mark Slater said:

I had a superlative dinner here this week. We ate upstairs in the formal dining room. The noise level was low making it easy to converse. There was the obligatory TV pundit sighting, marking this as one of the power  spots in town. I'll confess that was dining with the GM, Michael Sternberg, but watching other tables in the room, I could see that everyone else seemed to be as well taken care as we were. 

Sounds like a step up from Harry's Tap Room!

Do you think this is the best steakhouse in town now? (Special treatment aside.)

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Nice write up.  You make it sound inviting.

With all due respect to the obligatory TV pundit at the restaurant that evening I would have enjoyed being a microscopic entity (not an annoying fly on the wall) with large ears to catch the conversation at your table.  Enormous DC dining experience at that seating.  Must have been a fun evening.

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1 hour ago, DonRocks said:

Sounds like a step up from Harry's Tap Room!

Do you think this is the best steakhouse in town now? (Special treatment aside.)

Definitely a step up from Harry's. Best? It is certainly right up at the top. It didn't have that corporate feel that Capital Grille and Morton's have. 

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2 hours ago, Mark Slater said:

Definitely a step up from Harry's. Best? It is certainly right up at the top. It didn't have that corporate feel that Capital Grille and Morton's have. 

And now I AM sure I will return for dinner! Thanks, Mark.

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