So, we finally went to Ray's the Classic's tonight in Silver Spring. I was tempted to bring notes from Chowhounds.com about what to order, what to avoid, etc, but we were rushed to get out the door and beat it on over there, so we winged it. On the spur of the moment I decided to do a date-night with my wife tonight and called Rays the Classics at noon to see if we could get in at 630pm tonight. They had 645pm so we grabbed it and I was excited all day to try this new place.
We got there late, around 655pm and as luck would have it we snagged a spot directly in front of the restaurant on Colesville Rd just as it became legal to park there (after 7pm only). We entered and were briskly seated. We had the table directly in the window so I had a lovely view of an outdoor telephone with graffiti all over it and the Hadassah thrift shop with a side view of the AFI Movie Theater. By the end of the night, having seen the AFI's scrolling neon sign of current movies over 100 times, I could certainly tell you what was playing. :o)
We actually were happy with the view, the sparse decor, the minimalistic interior and the wait staff. Our server was friendly and one of the managers (the young gent) actually took our order. We decided to try the crab cakes appetizer - $8 for 4 deep fried balls of crab cake. The waitress highly recommended it. We wouldn't. They just weren't that good.
The bread was interesting. It was kind of like a wheat sourdough. We liked it. After traveling through Italy for 3 weeks last month and not having any butter with our bread, we are always grateful to be served butter here in the USA. We appreciated the free marinated veggies that they served with the bread and it all came out rapid fire. We despise extremely long wait times to get a menu (30 minutes once at Lauberge Chez Francois) or bread and appetizers, so the quickness was appreciated. After having the crabcakes, we were really hoping it all was uphill from there, and it sure was.
Next came out the tiniest little Caesar salad split on 2 plates you've ever seen. It was very good and we wished we had just skipped the crabcake and went with 2 full salads instead 1 split. The caesar came for free with our meal, so we weren't complaining.
Our main course was 1 Filet Mignon and the manager suggested we try the filet grilled "medium" and not "medium well", as we'd lose flavor cooking it longer and we would most likely be happy with it medium. Well, it came out blood red in the center so we sent it back to be cooked more and it came back out perfect in the end. The flavor was wonderful and the "diablo" version (grilled with a spicy sauce or spicy flavoring) really suited our tastebuds. We split the 9 oz filet as we don't usually eat alot of meat. It was the perfect amount, and at $26.95 a bargain. The mushroom that accompanied it was cold but delicious. They split this meal on 2 plates also. It sure didn't look like alot of food compared to the 30 oz cowboy steaks on surrounding diners other plates, but it fit our needs well.
I strained my brain trying to remember what you guys recommended to order as sides. We ended up taking the waitress's suggestion and tried the creamed spinach souffle and the au gratin potatoes. The spinach wasn't the totally fattening kind you find at a Ruth Chris, but a light version that was simple and delicious and... $4! The potatoes ... we used to joke at summer camp that they were serving "all rotten potatoes" when it was Au Gratin. Well, these definitly were not the rotten ones. They were exquisite and light compared to the typical overly cheesy steakhouse versions we'd grown accustomed to over the years.
My wife was stuffed at this point so lucky me, I got to savor the last 2 bites of her filet mignon. It's always the last 2 bites that are the best for me, especially the unexpected last 2 bites after I had already finished my own plate.
She said she didn't want dessert but I pushed hard for it. I wanted to order 2 desserts (I have a massive sweet tooth) but we settled on one. Desserts are only $5. $5 at a steakhouse? We went for dinner the other night and desserts were $10 each. We tried the Key Lime Pie here and the first bite tasted odd. We were both disappointed. But I kept eating it and realized that I was expecting a Key Lime pie of the type Houston's Restaurant serves... the not very authentic kind. This one really grew on me and by the end I was enamoured by it. It was very tart, and that's what initially threw me.
We both wished we had ordered the chocolate mousse, but we kept saying throughout the meal that eventually we'll come back with this set of friends, then that set, then our family, then our other family from Pennsylvania, etc, etc. It's just that kind of place. I'm sure once I sort out what not to get and what TO get, I'll be in the zone here. I told her that we should order a chocolate mousse anyway and then just get it to go, but she said we should just wait and try it when we return.
In the end, despite it's occasional misses, like the server that came to our table at the end of our meal asking which of us ordered decaf (neither of us) as well to the surrounding table near us (they hadn't either), we hope to make this our moderately priced local "destination" restaurant. Everyone was friendly towards us, from Anne Marie the reservationist on the phone today, to the 2 managers and the server that interacted with us while we were there tonight. It's obvious that they "aim to please" and really care about grooming a repeat customer base.
So, if you're not huge eaters or drinkers (we just ordered water and an ice tea as we don't drink alcohol), you really CAN go to a great steakhouse like Ray's and spend $50 for dinner for 2 (plus tax and tip) and feel satisfied in the end. Next time we'll go out of our comfort zone and try the 16 oz NY Strip. Then maybe one day we'll get really crazy and split the 30 oz cowboy steak.
Silver Spring MD