So, yes, this is a blog about the Middle East, but you all have known me to tangent over to discussions of steak, red wine and food on occasion.
This is one of those posts.
Considering my love of red meat and red wine, Rays' the Steaks was a natural selection for my 30th birthday celebration. My mom and 8 of my closest friends ventured out to Northern Va (eek!) with the highest expectations. But Ray's the Steaks did all they could to try to spoil by entrance into the third decade of my life! Fortunately the company and conversation were so awesome that they did not succeed, but they sure did try....and here's how: (You might find a similar review on the Wash Post (abbreviated), Yelp, and anywhere else I can post it.)
I have lived in DC for years now, grew up here, and eat out a lot (I mean a lot). I also spend a totally inappropriately insane amount of time researching and carefully selecting restaurants. All my friends think I’m a bit obsessive about it, but they take my advice! I have had some negative experiences but have never written about any of them…until now. My favorite meal consists of steak and red wine (I even write about steak on my blog which is really supposed to be on the Middle East!) so after much contemplation, I selected Ray’s the Steaks for my 30th birthday celebration. I will admit that, hands down, it was the best steak I have ever had. But the service did not match the steak; it was deplorable. We were a party of 10, including my mom and closest friends (some meeting for the first time ) and we had a 6:30 reservation. Almost immediately after we sat down, we were ‘ordered’ to order. Interesting role reversal that was. Exact words of the waiter, in total, impolite, seriousness, “I’m going to need to take your order”. We were then informed about the party of 20 that was coming in right after us. Why we were told this is still beyond me. I’m sorry, but my mom is about to drop hundreds of dollars at your restaurant, so I’m not really concerned with who is coming in next. Unprofessional; inappropriate…and it only got worse. By 8:15 Rays’ the Steaks had turned into Ray’s the Vultures; the waiters and hosts swarmed the tables like buzzards removing glasses and plates and offering sides with our boxes to sweeten up the sweep out the door. They then dumped (literally dumped is the right verb here) four mousses on the table, forgetting about the personalized and lovely cake my mom had left with them at the start of the meal. We had also clearly become the mortal enemy of the waiter by the end of the night; the man who had been Mr. McFriendly for the first hour, literally by 8:00 would not speak to us or look at us, words were replaced by annoyed looks and rolling eyes, echoed by the hostess. By 8:45 the vultures were so intense they succeeded in their plot to make it so awkward and miserable for us that the pressure would literally force us from our chairs and out the door. I had to finish my wine on my ‘plank’ walk (literally I left it on the host stand), then we had to finish the unfinished evening outside. It was an all out eviction. Full disclosure: 2 of my friends were very late. This was the *excuse* the restaurant manager used when we complained about said eviction. I’m sorry again, but this is a load No. 2: It did not matter that my friends were late because we did not (we were not allowed) to wait for them. Their tardiness had no impact on the meal and when we ordered. The biggest problem in my mind was the manager’s other ‘explanation’: for a table of 10, they allow 2 to 2.5 hours. This is totally unreasonable for a high quality, expensive restaurant to assume. And even if they do, and a party goes over its assigned ‘time-limit’, they should reorganize to accommodate their paying customers (my mom, for example) and move to a plan B. We had several bottles of wine (it would have been more had we not been shoveled out), appetizers, many, many steaks and a rather forced dessert and did not deserve this disappointing treatment. I had the highest expectations, and left with the lowest regard.