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Ray's the Steaks vs Brasserie Beck vs Rasika vs Hook vs ? for 8-12 guys (night out?)

It's time for me to pick the next spot for our once a month "Guy's Night Out". We're non- drinkers and like to go out the first thursday of each month around 7-730pm. We've been to a ton of restaurants over the 11 years we've done this but haven't yet been to "as a group" Ray's the Steaks or Brasserie Beck or Hook. I've done Ray's a month or so ago with my wife and another couple and was VERY happy with the food. 2 years ago or so we did Ray's the Classics with my guy's group and most everyone liked it, but I really wanted to do the orginal Ray's with them this time. The only thing is that I'd have to get there at 400pm to put our name in for 8 and then wait around that area of town till 7pm when my buddies show up (I'd be coming from Gaithersburg). That's not really optimal but I'd be willing to do something crazy like this... for the experience of Ray's with the guys. Problem is, if more than 8 people want to come out that night, they can't really do a larger table than 8 easily so we'd either have to limit it to 8 guys or pick a different restaurant.

Choice 2 is Brasserie Beck - we already have a reservation for 8 at 730pm for this night as a backup idea. The thing is, sometimes 12 people want to come, and then we couldn't do Ray's OR Beck, as Beck can't accommodate more than 8 at a table, and we prefer to all sit together. I called Central by the way too, but they only have 830pm which is too late for us AND they limit it to 8 guys too.

Choice 3 is Rasika. I loved it the one time I've been but no one ever picked it from our group... I'll bet they could handle more than 8 people, but my one friend ate there once and he said he wasn't that thrilled with it and didn't want to go back that much. I don't really get that, but to each his own.

Then I thought about some other places I'd heard of and read about but haven't been like Oyamel. Not sure if they take reservations though... Lately it's been said on Chowhounds that it's gone downhill a bit, but I'm not sure as I've never been. We have done Zengo and Oya after people said they were just OK and we loved these places.

I'd love to try CityZen, 2941, Eve or Palena with this group but the price will be more than our budget of $90 w/tax and tip. We like to spend less whenever possible! $60-80 would be better for most of us. We did West End Bistro 2 months ago and that was more like $95 (excellent meal) and last month we did Ceviche in Silver Spring and that was only $50.

I had thought of Hook as a final whim and just now happened to call them... they CAN take a group of 12-14 guys. That would be perfect. The most expensive thing on their menu is the $29 beef steak and the desserts are $10. Appetizers are $8-12 they said on the phone. High, but not utterly outrageous. Any thoughts?

Thanks in advance,
Steve R
Gaithersburg MD

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  1. for a bunch of guys, i think Ray's the Steaks would be great. And you could afford some of the higher end steak places too if you don't drink...heck there aren't many places you COULDNT get a great meal for $90 including tip without alcohol.
    If you want to stay in MD you might consider Grapeseed. They have a very cool large table in the wine cellar (if it wouldn't bother you to be surrounded by wine!) which is very private and you could get rowdy in private! The food is quite wonderful there and it's right in Bethesda. They have valet parking too.

    1. So about Hook, the portions aren't huge, huge, so everyone would probably want a first course (plus their first courses are much better than their desserts actually), that being said I think you can definitely keep it under $90 per person. In food terms I think it is to seafood in DC what Ray's is to Steak (the best in it's category), but that's my opinion. I would have it as my first back-up over Brasserie Beck even though I love it as large groups have seemed to have some problems from post at BB. That way you don't have to worry.

      Of course Ray's is awesome, but the group thing is a problem, can you call the group and see who is def in and judge from that? I have never been to the SS location, but I have heard it is just as tastey so you might want to try Hook.

      8 Replies
      1. re: ktmoomau

        Thanks for the advice. Funny thing, we JUST did Grapeseed a few months ago and it was awesome! They gave us the private room in the back behind the cellar room and it was quiet, the food was wonderful, and we all were sated at the end.

        Yeah... I guess if Ray's the Steaks is so similar to Ray's the Classics, it's kind of silly to go through all that hooplah of waiting 3 hours to get in just for food. And that's assuming they could even get us in on time, with our 8 people. I'm guessing it will leave alot of the potential guys that could come in the cold as if only 8 can be accomodated, and 12 people say they can come, I'm screwed.

        As far as other steak places we've already done Capital Grill, Vidalia, Kinkeads, La Auberge Francois (not really a steak place but they have good steak), Blacks, OZ Steakhouse in Fulton MD. We haven't done Charlie Palmer, Palm, Ruth Chris, Mortons, but we all kind of ruled those places out as we've all done them with our wives here and there.

        Hook... I've read all the reviews on it on CH AND they can accommodate our large group. We did Seacatch a few years ago and it was stellar. If it's as good as that, we'll all be happy. Maybe we'll try them instead of Brasserie Beck which can only take 8 of us. If 10 or 11 want to come, that would be bad. At our last Guy's Night Out, 12 people said they were coming but on the actual day, it was a horrible rainstorm and only 4 showed up! I was floored, but guys will be guys. Traffic was shut down to a crawl all over town and the beltway was a parking lot. People bailed at the last minute and didn't show.

        In the end, it's better to be inclusive than exclusive, so Hook is rising to the top of the list. We always order appetizers and and salads so small portions shouldn't be a problem.

        Anyone else care to chime in?

        Steve R
        Gaithersburg

        1. re: stever500

          If you're considering Hook for seafood, consider BlackSalt.

          1. re: DanielK

            For seafood in DC, I would pick Balcksalt also. I like Hook's food but I had service issues from the Host, Bartenders and waiters on a more than one occaision. It's probably because tehy are so popular, they have trouble being a crowded bar and a fine dining place.

            1. re: keithdcil

              I would disagree with that, I have been three times and although I haven't been in the bar area, I have been treated very well by the hostess and servers, they are friendly, knowledgeable about the food and open to any request, they haven't rushed us through meals, all in all it was excellent. If anything they might be a little overly chatty when the waiter first approaches about the concept of the place, but that is over quickly. The only complaint I have about Hook is they have some weak desserts, and the whoppie pies are just bad and inauthentic (being raised by an amish nanny has it's baked goods benefits), but their fish and starters are so fresh tasting and innovative I don't have much room for dessert anyway.

              1. re: ktmoomau

                KT- I applaud Chef Seaver and the pastry chef' s(forgot her name) food and also their env. friendly policies. The plum compote dessert I had was great.

                1st time: I walked in and sat at the communal table , although it was a little tight, I had a very nice meal. 2nd time: My party of 4 shows up ontime for dinner reservations . The Hostess asks us to wait in the bar with barely any room to stand near the bar and the bartender didn't get to us for 20 minutes (I timed it). I asked if the host if there was anything she could do because my parents (both in 70's )couldn't stand much longer. Apparently my request annoyed the Hostess and she proceded to seat walk-in parties ahead of us. We complained to Bart when he came around and saw him speak with her as we left. . 3rd time: a lunch without apps took 2 hours, because of a bad waiter.

                I travel alot and receive so much better service in cities all across the country. I think we, in DC, are just so used to subpar service that we don't complain enough and keep rewarding the same bad service.

                1. re: keithdcil

                  Yeah I haven't ever had those problem so sorry you have, if they still have the plum dessert on the menu next time I am there I will try it thank you for the suggestion, I am a big dessert fan.

                  Your poor parent's my Dad is 74 and I have to choose pretty carefully what places I take him to for reasons like that (he can't stand a ton and needs to be able to get something to drink fairly often, etc), how rude of that hostess. I really feel for you on that one, especially because once you are there G-town doesn't have many places you can just go over and walk into without a huge wait that are good for people in that age range.

          2. re: stever500

            i just thought of another one...what about Clyde's? i haven't been in ages but it does seem like a guy and group friendly place.

            1. re: stever500

              Funny thing, I just did Grapeseed a couple months ago and my mushrooms were coated in unavoidable grit/dirt/sand...who cares...never going back.

          3. If none of you drink, your probably shouldn't bother with Brasserie Beck. I love it, but the beer is the star of that show.

            1 Reply
            1. re: BrianD

              So Brasserie Beck is out then. Yes, we don't drink AND they can only seat 8 of us.

              I've been to Black Salt once with family and will never go back. We had salads with like 4 pieces of lettuce for $10 and they weren't that great. The fish was good, but I thought the prices were outrageous for what we got.

              Clydes? We go with our wives to various Clydes around the beltway, mostly Tower Oaks so that's out too.

              As far as service problems with Hook, we're used to that as we eat out alot and generally have bad waiters. Not a problem there...

              Steve R

            2. Personally, I had a great meal at Hook, and think it would be a fun dinner spot. But, it was definitely on the lighter side! :o)
              Does your group like Italian? What about Tosca or Specie? I am pretty sure you could do either with that budget if you're not drinking!
              Also, I might recommend Mio... Delicious food, they have side areas where they can acoomodate larger groups.

              2 Replies
              1. re: food.fiend

                Thanks food.fiend. I'm not sure about Hook now... I'd love to just pick MatchBox, one of my favorite cheap DC spots but it would be tough for 8-12 guys to get in there on a Thursday night at 715pm-730pm. Plus, we couldn't hear each other talk at all! Mio looks pretty interesting. I have Hook booked as they are one of the few places that will take our large party, but Mio looks really great too.

                To keithdicil: I've read a bit about Bice's new opening as well. I thought it was pretty expensive from the article I read but maybe I"ll look into it more closely.

                1. re: stever500

                  If you get a pasta starter, or even something like the grilled calamari app I don't think the food is neccessarily light (it is fish and perhaps not heavy like a steak in taste, but in fullness you are normally ok) just appropriately portioned for a starter and entree course, most entrees are well balanced with a starch and veg. I definitely think guys will be ok, the guys I normally go with need rolled out by the end of the meal and they aren't small swaths of man by any measure... And I did too...

              2. If you want italian...The new Bice in bethesda would be good for a guys night out.

                2 Replies
                1. re: keithdcil

                  P.S. Is Bice casual or upscale Italian for the DC area comparitively?

                  1. re: ktmoomau

                    Bice is upscale, fine dining... but not sky high prices 25- 60 pp (inc. drinks). The Bethesda location kind of a sophisticated clubby feel but also sports on TV in the bar.

                2. Consider yourself lucky on Brasserie Beck. Food is good - service is miserable again and again - last time someone I know tried to get in w/ more than 8 she was told to consider "dropping" some of her party. How about Jordan's 8 (Capitol Hill), Zaytania, or Proof - also IndeBleu ( Verizon Center/Chinatown area)

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: tempe wick

                    We've done Zatinya already and loved it. They had a belly dance that night and the princess of Saudi Arabia had the whole upstairs if memory serves me correctly. It was a blast.

                    Haven't tried Proof or Jordon's 8 yet though... so many restaurants, so little time. Proof is very wine centric, and none of us drink so that one probably out...

                    Well, I just called Mio and they require a "set menu" which the guys wouldn't go for. They like to order anything they want off a broad range menu.

                    Same with Indebleu, set menu - no good for us.

                    Hook is offered to let us order anything off the menu so I think we're settling on Hook unless I can think of anything more compelling and fabulous in the next day before I send the email out to the guys :o).

                    1. re: stever500

                      What about Fogo de Chao? I've had some fun guys nights out there.

                      1. re: dzherbst

                        Good suggestion but we did Chima a few months ago and it seems very similar. Chima by the way was MOST excellent (Tyson's Corner). We try to mix it up a bit so maybe in 6 month someone will pick Fogo de Chao.