My girlfriend and I have been walking past Rare (in the Shelbourne Hotel, on Lex and 38th) for the past few weeks. We finally decided to go.
It's a mediocre restaurant in a mediocre hotel that tries to look good. The room is dimly lit, with simple wooden tables and top 40 music playing.
Rare has a very simple one-page laminated menu with some fried appetizers, a few salads, and burgers in various forms (beef, turkey scallion, tuna, others).
Burgers run about $12.50, but each topping (i.e. cheese) will set you back an extra $1.00. My girlfriend and I didn't get fries, but they cost extra too (probably $4 to $6) and can be ordered with various dipping sauces.
We shared a chopped salad of shrimp, peppers, onions, and bacon that was very good. We also had martinis which were not great, but passable. Then our burgers came; they were really an "eh." There are many better burgers in New York. They weren't great, not terrible either. My beef burger was more rare than medium rare. Her turkey scallion was apparently pretty good.
Service wasn't so great. Simple things - like asking if we wanted another drink with dinner - were a hassle. Busboys also attempted to clear dishes WAY before we were done.
Another aspect of the dinner that I didn't love - the cost. Let's just say that the total bill - one chopped salad, 2 burgers, 1 side of veggies, 3 martinis, and a beer (yes we were drinking that night!) set us back over $100, including tip. I think the drinks are what killed the bikl, but still...an expensive night for mediocre food and a so-so atmosphere.
Won't be running back; if we're ever in the nabe and really need a burger, maybe we'll give it a second thought.