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Ray's the Classics-- Washington Post Review

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Tom Sietsema has revisted Ray's the Classics in Silver Spring in his Sun Nov 25 review. Spends half the review harping about the lack of decoration on the walls and the spared down menu. Given that he describes two soups and one dessert you have to question how many visits he made. I guess in the end he gets it right, Ray's serves great steaks. All I can say is EVERYTHING we've ordered at Ray's has been dreamy and the value outstanding, deserving more than 2 stars. (Sietsma missed the bar specials -- fine by me, less competition for bar seats for the best deal in town.)

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  1. Since the review was sufficiently up-to-date to indicate Sunday hours, and he mentioned the loss of the fried chicken, it may be that "Ray" asked that he not mention the bar special since it's not always available.

    What's his favorite steak "entrecote?" Is that the hangar steak that Chowhounds seen to prefer? Or another part of the cow's rib cage? I read the Wikipedia explanation but that doesn't mean anything to me. No pictures. ;)

    5 Replies
    1. re: MikeR

      Sietsema criticized the "French Onion Soup" for not having cheese on top. But it is sweet onion soup, not French. It's not *supposed* to have cheese on top! And it is really delicious!

      According to Sietsema's on-line chat last week, "Ray" told Sietsema before the review came out that some of the bar specials were going back on the printed menu. Sietsema went with the review anyway. Kind of interesting that he's re-reviewing places that have only been around a year or two, but places that have been around forever get to keep their stars long after they go downhill, like Restaurant Nora.

      The hanger and the entrecote are two different menu items at Rays.

      1. re: galleycat

        I find the food decent, not as good as RTS, but the service is simply poor and there seems to be no focus on correcting it. Service is as important as the meal IMO and I will nto go back until I hear things have changed. I actually think it is a distraction to the good food.

        1. re: william Tansmith

          I was just at RTC this past weekend, and my server introduced fried chicken as part of the regular, sit-down dinner menu.

          The service was also excellent. I may have gotten lucky (based on other posts), but our waitress was very courteous and friendly....could not have asked for better service.

        2. re: galleycat

          Sietsema hasn't given Nora any stars that I can find and has always said in his chats that he doesn't like the food there.

          1. re: JasmineG

            And isn't Asia Nora closing soon, or are you talking about a different Nora? So it wouldn't make sense to re-review it, but others perhaps should get re-reviewed more often, but with so many places and so little time, I am sure it is difficult. I have trouble eating at even the ones I really, really want to eat at!

      2. I would have to agree with the posts. Great food but bad service. On one occasion I took clients to eat, as a server rounded a corner with a tray of drinks he slipped and dumped the tray soaking my foot. The female manager came around the corner after the fact and when I asked for a towell she informed me that I was not close enough to have gotten wet. I laughed and leaned over, took off my shoe and poured out a half ounce of beer and a ice cube. She remained indignant though and didnt apalogize or bring the towel.
        Its a shame I like the food and it is very close to home.

        2 Replies
        1. re: DPK

          This seems like a completely different restaurant than the one I go to. I've gone at least a dozen times, and have never had anything short of superlative service in the dining room. I've even brought my pre-teen kids there, and the servers haven't missed a beat.

          1. re: DanielK

            My last experience included a "server" who had clearly never seen a wine list before, and required my help to extract the cork. It included a kitchen that served me a rib-eye, exactly the same cut that my wife next to me ordered, when I had clearly ordered the entrecote. Did they not think I wouldn't notice? Btw, the mashed potatoes were thin and tasteless. At those prices, it's still a pretty good deal. It is not above criticism, even though so many wish it were.

        2. Dare I ask: what are the "bar deals"?

          5 Replies
          1. re: beauxgoris

            The Bar specials are two ($15) or three course ($22) meals. Apparently, when you can get them comes and goes. When we were last there on a Saturday night around 9 at first the host said they weren't available, then the bar waiter (whom we've had before, and is great) went to ask Michael (a/k/a Ray) and we got the specials. Michael said when it's really busy they don't do them. Anyway, the chopped steak with pepper sauce is wonderful -- pair it with the crab bisque. The $22 specials are certain items, all off the regular menu (hanger steak, broiled prawns), but slightly smaller portions -- you'll still be stuffed. Fav's for desert are the root beer float and key lime pie.

            1. re: Marissa

              ^^Thank you - good to know, we'll have to give that a try!

              1. re: Marissa

                If I remember correctly, the bar specials are always available Mon - Thurs nights. It's Friday - Sunday that the specials are in question - if they've found time to prep them during the day, they will be made available (though sometimes only on request if there weren't enough quantities prepped).

                I don't think the portions are smaller for the bar menu, though.

                1. re: DanielK

                  Michael himself told us that for the scampi, on the bar special, there are 4 instead of 5 in the dining room -- inconsequential given how much food there is anyway. The steak sizes at the bar are not massive (except for the chopped steak -- that's really 2 portions), so I think they are a bit smaller too.

                  1. re: Marissa

                    I didn't know about the scampi. We always get the chopped steak (not available in the dining room) or the hanger steak, and I don't think there's a difference in size with the hanger.

            2. I've been thinking of trying Rays in Silver Spring. However, very reluctant to try places without seeing a menu online first. Does Rays have a website?

              Also, are reservations a must?

              Thanks!

              3 Replies
              1. re: wysguymd

                You've discovered the Landrum Paradox. The guy is all about doing right by his customers - great food at great prices. No fuss, no muss. But when it comes to actually dealing with customers...things can get a little iffy. Like no websites. I can kind of get it when you are talking about RTS - the last thing that little joint needs is more access. He always wanted to just run a friendly, neighborhood, drop-in kind of places. Is that unrealistic when you are located in an area full of people warehouses? Probably not, but that was the idea. But RTC...and the new place in Courthouse, whenever that opens...of course it would be great to have a website, if only to give the hours, phone number, address. Doesn't have to be fancy; static "sample" menus may not be ideal, but lots of places do nothing more. And this is especially true if you plan to close periodically and with little advance notice as has happened at both RTS and RTC. Someone has to read food boards on a regular basis to know if a restaurant is open...?

                1. re: wysguymd

                  we noted that RTC was only about half full when we walked by last Saturday night around 7. I'm guessing that reservations aren't a must. we've never had trouble getting seats at the bar.

                  1. re: nc213

                    But they were closed for the first two weeks of January, and weren't taking reservations, so that could account for the lower than usual Saturday crowds.

                    I can tell you from experience that if you try to call mid-week for a Saturday reservation a few days later, even for a 2-top, you'll probably be told 5:30 or 9:30.