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Bobby Van's Steakhouse - From the Hamptons to NYC to DC, Two Locations on New York Avenue and 15th Street


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Have never eaten there. Don't know what people think. Probably about a thousand other places I'd like to try beforehand. But walking to Corduroy I noticed a sign in a window on the west side of 12th Street between I and K that Bobby Van's is coming this fall. Isn't the other one just a few blocks away, or are they moving?

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Yeah. It's on 15th between H & I. Maybe they got tired of the constant construction on that block. Ate there a couple of times when I worked round the corner and the porterhouse was pretty good. Liked the bartenders, too. They used to put out these funky hardboiled egg "trees" and some decent chips as snacks.

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Have never eaten there.  Don't know what people think.  Probably about a thousand other places I'd like to try beforehand.  But walking to Corduroy I noticed a sign in a window on the west side of 12th Street between I and K that Bobby Van's is coming this fall.  Isn't the other one just a few blocks away, or are they moving?

That's bad news either way. That place needs to go down. :P

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What's your beef with their beef?

My one experience there was terrible. Even the ceasar salad sucked. And not that this has anything to do with food, but the AC was broken and we were still encouraged by management to dine in. It was a big mistake- the bartender a was big fat grump because it was so damn hot. My view is tainted, but generally speaking, the place lacks any soul whatsoever.

(edited clarity)

Edited by Meaghan
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but generally speaking, the place lacks any soul whatsoever.

(edited clarity)

I think this comment hits the nail on the head. The whole place just seems sort of artificial. The steaks are no different than what you would get at similarly priced places around town. When they first opened, I recall thinking to myself: "great, just what we need, another steak place." And I wonder why they are moving, unless they are opening up another location and keeping the old one going.

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I've been to BV's many times, probably at least 2-3 times per year for the past 4-5 years. That includes lunches, dinners, inside, outside and at the bar. I can easily say that this is the worst steak joint in town. Management has been 100% absent every time I've been there. It's an awkward setting, with tables either too big or too small. Service is severly undertrained. Long, long waits for food. And when it arrives, it is very low quality, under-cooked or over-cooked, and not well presented.

Did I forget anything?

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I've been to BV's many times, probably at least 2-3 times per year for the past 4-5 years.  That includes lunches, dinners, inside, outside and at the bar.  I can easily say that this is the worst steak joint in town.  Management has been 100% absent every time I've been there.  It's an awkward setting, with tables either too big or too small.  Service is severly undertrained.  Long, long waits for food.  And when it arrives, it is very low quality, under-cooked or over-cooked, and not well presented. 

Did I forget anything?

No. But apparently these guys have.

"We're all about pure, unadulterated customer happiness. We have the food, the wine, but it's our personalized service at Bobby Van's that really sets us apart." -- Joe Hickey, co-owner, Bobby Van's.

"We believe that Washington will be known one day as a world-class restaurant town, and we want to be part of it. And our wait staff will take better care of you than your own mother." -- Joe Smith, co-owner, Bobby Van's.

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Have you ever had to cancel a Corduroy reservation to go to Bobby Van's instead? It is a sure way to ruin your day. :lol:

As always, food that wasn't very good and service that wasn't very attentive. There are very few places in which I feel that I am not treated as well as men, but Bobby Van's is one of them. There is no way that the server could not have picked up on the fact that I was the host and that the only male was on an interview (I made reservations, asked if he was ready to order when the server came over, I was in casual clothes, he was nervous in a suit . . .), but still, after I asked for the check, the server put it clearly in front of the man, way out of my reach. That is the type of little thing that drives me crazy everytime I go there.

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On Saturday, I took my goddaughter and her mother to Bobby Van's Grill at 1201 New York Avenue in a brand new building with a stunning lobby and atrium. They seemed to have quite a few tourists walking in and I do remember when the neightborhood featured two bus stations and was one to aviod.

We shared a Ceasar salad. I had broiled salmon with asparagus while the child had St. Louis ribs with an adequate portion of both french fries and onion strings plus a fried onion ring. The mother had the crab cake and filet special with aparagus on the side. The food was quite acceptable, the ambiance stunning, and the service above adequate. The place is most reminiscent of the Caucus Room with a bit better service and little worse food.

If you are in the neighborhood, it seems to be a good enough place to go to, but it may not be worth a special trip.

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I've been a couple of times and was not impressed. Once we went for my son's birthday since he wanted to go to a steak house. My wife's crabcake was cold, the steaks had to be sent back because they came medium instead of very rare and rare, and the waiter brought me the wrong year of the wine I ordered.

I've had better at other places for the price. The second time it was ok, but just ok. Not worth seeking out.

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I went back to Bobby Van's for the first time since the Grill opened (no other option), and it has somehow gone downhill. I didn't really know that it was possible, but the service was much worse than previously. And before, the food was just not good, this time it was bad. Why do places like this survive? Why do I have to go to them?

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Bobby Vans is like a caricature of everything wrong with the traditional steakhouse. I felt like a little kid when I was there because everything is so damn BIG. Big steaks, big wines, big waiters in vests. I'm pretty sure my feet didn't touch the floor of our booth. It was damn crowded and noisier than Ray's was, even before RTS scaled back the number of tables.

One thing, though - my caesar salad was damn good. Damn good.

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I went back to Bobby Van's for the first time since the Grill opened (no other option), and it has somehow gone downhill. I didn't really know that it was possible, but the service was much worse than previously. And before, the food was just not good, this time it was bad. Why do places like this survive? Why do I have to go to them?

Simple rule: buzz, go. no buzz, don't go.

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We had a trial nearby last week and ate here all five days (it wasn't on my penny, so beggars can't be choosers). The food was usually acceptable but definitely not great by any means.

Because the partners on the case always ordered salads instead of entrees, I wasn't about to get a steak and tried the following instead:

Harry salad - chopped shrimp, string beans, bacon, tomatoes, red onion, and roasted red peppers. Strange combination of ingredients that surprisingly worked. I ended up having this twice.

"OB" salad - pieces of filet mignon on mixed greens with shallot vinaigrette. Meh. The beef was cooked perfectly but Blandy McBland.

"Cajun" pan-roasted salmon salad - fish was slightly overcooked and not remotely spicy. Big thumbs down.

Blue-cheese stuffed burger - apparently, it comes with a side of vegetables and is sans bun. Once again, the burger itself was fine but totally under-seasoned.

Needless to say, I won't return voluntarily (although the service was generally excellent).

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Trials galore in 2007, which means I've had a dozen more lunches here during the past month. Good service, passable food.

The "OB" salad is better than before, the vinaigrette seems to have a bit more zing and the red onions save the unremarkable greens. The burger is still bland but I do like the crustiness of the patty even when cooked medium-rare. Salmon salad remains blah as well.

One saving grace of each meal has been the sesame flatbread. Addictive as hell, especially when dipped in the surprisingly decent butter.

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Friday August 1st had dinner at the Bobby Van Grill at 12 st and NY Ave.

We were seated promptly per reservation but spent nearly 15 minutes waiting for either a waiter or a glass of water. Finally the maitre d' was seating another party, noticed we were being unserved and went to find a waiter.

They had not one single bottle of Chardonnay in stock becausse theywere swapping wine lists we were told.

I had the excellent spicy fried calamari which was totally excellent. Although the peanut sauce that accompanied it was not a positive addition to the dish. My companion had the Maine mussels which were very fresh and tasty.

I had the gorgonzola strip steak entree which was grilled to perfection for the degree of doneness I had requested. The gorgonzola sauce was overwhelming but after I scraped off half of it, the dish was delightful. My companion had the salmon entree with was fine but not exceptional or otherwise noteworthy.

The ambiance was pleasant and even after the dining room filled, the noise was moderate - we didn't feel like we were forced to listen to neighboring conversations nor did we feel it was uncomfortably too quiet.

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