We went to Bobby Van's Saturday night for my son's birthday (his choice) since he wanted their famous porterhouse.
The decor is nice, very steakhousy with blond wood, and large bottles of wine around. They have a nice wine cellar that you can see from most of the tables.
Service was very good, with one small exception described below. The breads were very good and they kept the basket full. There were three different breads (french, olive and raisin) and some flat crackers with seeds that were quite good.
For appetizers my son had the blue point oysters on the half shell, excellent but expensive at $13.5 for a half dozen. I had the soft shell crab, also $13.50 (you can get one as an appetizer and two as a main course) It was prepared perfectly, just a touch of spice and not at all over cooked and served over a light fresh tomato sauce with a piece of cornbread. My wife had the crab cake. The first one was cold in the middle and she sent it back, the second one was very good with no filler at all and nicely spiced, though she would have preferred it broiled to fried, but she didn't ask so I don't know if that is an option. We had been tempted to order the seafood sampler appetizer, and watched several go by, they were huge, with shrimp, crabmeat and a lobster tail. I am afraid to think what they charged for those.
They are famous for their dry aged steaks, and the steak was cooked just like we wanted it, very rare. If you order the porter house for 2-4, everyone must have it cooked the same way (obviously) and it came as ordered. The steak was chared on the outside and blood red in the middle. It was already cut for us and served up nicely. However, it was not as tender as I expected, not tough at all, but no better than some other steaks I've had at other restaurants that do not specialize in steaks. At $34.50 a person, it was not the best deal either. My wife had the broiled scallops with lemon butter which were quite good, and a large serving.
Sides are ordered separately and except for the baked potato, are for two. The mashed potatos were good, but not exceptional, though they were very hot. The creamed spinich is very creamy, too much so. The baked potato on the other hand, was huge, cooked perfectly, and served with sour cream, chedder cheese, and applewood smoked bacon as toppings (served on the side)
Desserts were good, though the bread pudding a little dry, but the apple crumble was excellent. The cream broule was wonderful. Coffee ended the meal and was very good.
The wine list is extensive, and for what is there not too overly priced (not nearly as bad as Galileo though I couldn't find any red for less than $40) but when I ordered a 99 Franciscan Oakville, they brought a 2000. I sent it back and ordered a different wine. This came as advertised. (a 1999 St. Frances Cab for $60) I would have liked it if they had said the 99 was no longer available and asked if I wanted the 2000 (I didn't) before bringing it. But it was the waiter, not a sommelier so I guess I am being picky. He had no problem taking it back and getting something else.
They sang happy birthday to my son, embarrasing him mightly, and everyone made a point of wishing him a happy birthday. They comped his dessert too.
All in all, not a bad experience, but expensive and the steaks, while good, are not exactly to die for. As a steak house, it isn't bad, but for fine dining, I will go elsewhere. Maybe next time I want steaks, I'll try the Palm since I don't like Morton's or Nick and Stef's, and haven't tried the Ruths Chris here in DC.
Bottom line, there are too many other places to go in town where I can blow $100 per person and get a more enjoyable dining experience overall. I didn't dislike the evening, I just thought others have been better.
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