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Disapointed at Ray's the Classics

Went for a birthday dinner recently. While the food was every bit as good as usual the service was certainly not up to par. Everything was terribly rushed. Every time you put your fork down, someone was there to grab your plate. Refils on bread never arrived. Instead of preparing doggie bags in the kitchen (as always has been done in the past) bus boys brought boxes and then hovered to take plates as I prepared the boxes. We had 3 courses and were out in an hour. Literally. While I understand the need to turn tables this was just rediculous. Is this everyone's experience lately, or just an outlier?

Ray's the Classics
8606 Colesville Rd, Silver Spring, MD 20910

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  1. I have taken several people to the mother ship of Ray's The Steaks and some have remarked that the service is pretty much rushing you out of the door. I guess you can chew slowly, sip rather than gulp, and try everything to cut the pace. My experience at Classics has been the opposite, that service is so slow that you are there longer than you want to be. So it goes!

    Ray's The Steaks
    2300 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22201

    1 Reply
    1. re: BookGuy

      I had the same experience at Classics. The place was empty yet they still rushed us out of there. Additionally, none of the steaks were served at the level of done-ness requested. Over-rated as far as Im concerned.

    2. We went to Ray's the Classics last year, expecting great things. It was so-so and service was quite rushed. The steaks and sides at Fleming's are MUCH better and the service, too.

      Ray's the Classics
      8606 Colesville Rd, Silver Spring, MD 20910

      6 Replies
      1. re: Transplanted Texan

        Sorry, the only thing that Flemings is better at is separating you from large amounts of your money to send to their corporate headquarters.

        Ray's has never advertised white-glove service, but it's always friendly, it's half the price of the big guys, and IMO, better food.

        I've never experienced the rushed service, but I can imagine that asking the waiter (not the busboy) to slow things down should be effective.

        I do appreciate how many of you don't like it, though. It makes it easier for the rest of us to get a table!

        1. re: DanielK

          I know you have a real fondness for all things Ray's. Unfortunately my experience (and apparently others' as well) at The Classics don't match that. It is a real mystery. They must know you well, perhaps that explains it.

          I only go a few times a year, but I've had probably now a total of 15 meals at Fleming's. I've never had a bad -- or even mediocre -- meal at Fleming's. We had indifferent service a couple times, but that's about it.

          1. re: Transplanted Texan

            It's not just Daniel. Some of my best restaurant experiences in this area have been at Ray's the Classics. Yes, I've had some instances where there was clearly a rush to turn tables, but that was exclusively in the bar/bistro side, and in a more casual environment when there's a crowd outside waiting for those tables, I think that's plenty justified.

            Ray's the Classics
            8606 Colesville Rd, Silver Spring, MD 20910

            1. re: Transplanted Texan

              If everyone except for those who are recognized got poor service and food at Ray's, they wouldn't still be in business. But they have waits for tables every night of the week.

              It's not to your taste, that's fine.

              I used to travel constantly for business. The client dinner at the steakhouse is a tried and true dealmaker. I've eaten at all the big chains: Morton's, Ruth's Chris, Shula's, Fleming's, etc. I've certainly gotten some four-star service at those places (though not always), and had very good meals. But I've never had a steak at any of them that was as good as the Cowboy or Hanger at Ray's, and I spent at least TWICE as much money, if not more, at these places, for a comparable meal.

              1. re: DanielK

                I was at RTC for dinner tonight and can't fathom how this notion of being "rushed" persists. Arriving on Friday night, at the height of dinner crush(7:30pm) on a beautiful early summer evening and service was flawless throughout our meal. Two apps, two entrees, a shared dessert, a bottle of wine, in about an hour and twenty minutes seemed just the right pace for the meal (we had a movie to get to, otherwise I am sure we would have lingered over another glass of wine or two.) And btw: I don't think they ever "refill" the bread, do they? In the five years or so that I've gone to RTS, the plate of bread comes with the water glasses at the start, and that's it. But who wants to fill up on bread anyway with all the other good stuff that comes out of that kitchen?!

                1. re: DanielK

                  Guess that's why there are so many restaurants, and despite the many bad experiences people have at them at one time or another, the are still in business and have some happy customers, anyway.

          2. Wasn't disappointed on my visit. Why would you want refills? Didn't feel rushed when there, so, not ridiculous to me. Maybe next thyme. :)

            1. I have never had a problem there. The food is consistently good and service is friendly and efficient. I have never felt rushed by the staff. I have sat in both the dining room and the bar with different mixes of people. I have even eaten at the bar alone. Sorry you had a bad experience.

              1. Had a similar experience at Rays the Steaks last night - After we were seated, we were immediatly given menus and our drink orders taken before we had a chance to look. The waiter came back 2-3 minutes later and said "I'll be back in 2 minutes to take your complete order". Sure enough, 2 minutes later he was back - when one at our party said we needed more time he replied "No problem, I'll start at THIS end of the table" - We were only a four-top.
                We ordered appetizers for the table, a soup and salad course, and steaks. We had 3 appetizers and our own plates to share. Our soup and Salads came when we were halfway through the first course. The waiter started to clear the appetizer dishes with food still on them.
                The steaks came DURING the soup and Salad course - And no, I wasn't stalling - I had maybe 4-5 minutes with my soup before the entrees came.
                I know that Rays must need to turn tables to keep the prices down - I understand I'm not eating at the Palm or Morton's - But to rush customers like that in inexcusable and I for one will not be going back any time soon.

                6 Replies
                1. re: tommyskitchen

                  how many people were waiting for a table when you left?

                  1. re: xdcx

                    I'm a fan of Ray's, but if this is the service they received, no question that's unacceptable.

                    TK - did you ask for them to slow down? Did you talk to a server or manager?

                    1. re: DanielK

                      XDCX - Only a few.. all seated, no standing.

                      Daniel, no, we were invited guests of the other couple who go there often . If it was just us I would have said something. I didn't feel it was my place and didn't want to ruin the evening by complaining to our hosts.

                      1. re: tommyskitchen

                        My last experience (three people, maybe 4 Fridays ago) started out terribly rushed. I ordered a martini and a bottle of wine. Both were served within minutes and the waiter remained tableside, with his pad and pencil out, asking for our order. Maybe you would call this "high efficiency." Fine.

                        Anyway, I explained to him that I would order as soon as my martini glass was empty, and in the mean time, he could ice down the 78* red wine for 8 minutes to cool it, and himself, off. After that it was a very pleasant evening.

                        1. re: Pappy

                          It makes one wonder if management is putting extreme pressure on the wait staff to turn tables. Maybe they're offering a financial incentive? It seems odd, because a happy table of patrons will tip more than a frustrated table of same.

                    1. I love Ray's (the Steaks, the Classics, Hellburger, Hellburger the Sequel; haven't been to East River yet). I have no doubt that I will love Ray's the Catch, too. The food is great, the prices are great, and the staff is nearly always terrific. But I would say that the pace is less-than-relaxing on about half of our visits to Steaks and Classics (in the latter case, I am not talking about the lounge). This has been true whether the place is crowded or not, whether there is a line or not, whether there are people waiting or not. It is almost as though the waitstaff gets into a certain rhythm ... I think 90 minutes is ample for dinner, particularly when it is busy. This is a business, people. Not your living room. If you want to continue chatting, consider going to a nearby bar, or (GASP) invite your guests over to your home for dessert. I am in the very small minority that doesn't care for the dessert selection at Ray's, even the famous Key Lime pie, so I'd rather have dessert elsewhere anyway. In the case of a social occasion like a birthday party, I would always plan to have people come over for dessert, which also gives them a chance to digest before eating more food. Yes, that means a bit of planning and cleaning. I can share my tips for achieving the illusion of clean; just deadbolt the doors to the rooms and closets that you don't want your nosy guests to see!

                      Anyway, you don't go to Ray's without knowing that you are likely to encounter a brisk pace and that lingering (camping) at the table is frowned upon. If you want a leisurely dinner, chose another spot. Appreciate each place (experience) for what it is. Not like this is a big surprise, given how many people have written about it in so many place for so many years. And by the way, they never refill the bread plate. As others have noted.

                      13 Replies
                      1. re: Just Visiting

                        They will refill the bread plate as many times as you want *if you ask*.

                        Dining there is certainly not leisurely - they do move things along. *Unless you ask* them to move slower, and then they are happy to do so. I've had many 3+ hour meals at Ray's.

                        1. re: DanielK

                          But Daniel K - you are there a lot, and so may enjoy different treatment than others. We are not regular enough (even though I'd estimate that 80% or more of our meals out are at RTS or RTC; we just don't eat out much) that I would expect them to be happy about a request to move slower, especially on busy nights. And frankly, I wouldn't ask on a busy night. When RTC was open for lunch, I had a very leisurely lunch with a friend. They were not busy - only a few tables occupied.

                          I didn't know that they would refill the bread plate if asked, but as others have noted - why even ask? The food arrives promptly (too promptly according to the OP!) and most people - including me - don't want to fill up on bread anyway. That, plus the spiced nuts really seems like enough to hold you for the nanosecond until the apps arrive!

                          1. re: Just Visiting

                            I'm there maybe every 2-3 months - hardly a regular. And while I know that I'm recognized by the GM and a couple of the servers, I've had plenty of anonymous meals there.

                            The service can be rushed - I'm not denying that. I'm just saying that I've never had a request to slow service, linger over coffee, extra bread, etc. denied, and I don't think that's because I'm recognized.

                            1. re: DanielK

                              I used to be very pro Ray's, but after our last outing I don't think we'll ever go back. It used to be $25.00 got you a huge NY strip with all the creamed spinach and mashed potatoes you could eat. A deal for sure. We went last month and my have things changed! The NY strip was now $30.00 and the sides were a la carte at $6.00 a POP! So basically $42.00 for what you used to get for $25.00. That's just too much of a price hike to bear. To make matters worse they no longer have creamed spinach - it's now a gratin of sorts and very very very dry. Hey heavy cream isn't cheap I guess. Very sad about this as we felt like were robbed for the meal. Sorry Ray's, you lost us.

                              1. re: beauxgoris

                                Are you talking about Silver Spring? The NY Strip used to be $28, so if it went to $30 it only went up $2. And the sides have changed to broccoli and baked from spinach and mashed, but they are still gratis.

                                And, for comparison, a NY Strip + 2 sides at any of the big downtown steakhouses is at least $50 - $60.

                                1. re: DanielK

                                  ^^Nope, not gratis anymore. They are now on a sides menu. We ordered the usual sides are were charged $12.00 ea. for them - so $24.00 for our sides total. We even asked the waiter about it since we were used to the gratis sides. He said that their policy had changed and they no longer provided sides - they must be ordered and paid for separately. We went at the very end of December 2010, i.e. a little over two weeks ago - so maybe things have changed since the last time you were there.

                                  1. re: beauxgoris

                                    There was always a sides menu - you could always order sides other than the ones they comped. But they're $6 ea for sides.

                                    I was, by coincidence, just there on 12/23, about the same as you, so I think someone made a mistake.

                                    1. re: DanielK

                                      If we asked the server directly what happened to the complimentary sides and he LIED in order to get us to spend more money on our sides - then wow I'm pissed. Unprofessional staff - yet another reason to stay away. I'll be calling this week to find out what's going on.

                                      1. re: beauxgoris

                                        So, it turns out I get to follow-up. My daughter's birthday dinner wish was Ray's, so we found ourselves in Silver Spring this evening.

                                        As usual, we ate in the Bistro. That area, as of a few months ago, includes not only the front bar area, but all of the tables/booths in the hall. Only the rear dining room is the "formal" restaurant area. I took a quick peek at the main dining room menu, and lo and behold, sides are now a la carte.

                                        So, beauxgoris, your server was spot on if you were sitting in the main dining room. Sides were $3-$6 for pretty hefty portions. Steaks ranged from $20 to $30. Soups and salads about $5-$8. So, definitely a slide up from what it was a few years ago. For reference, I will point out that at Charlie Palmer Steak in DC, the wedge salad is $12 ($6 at Ray's), the Strip is $45 ($30 at Ray's), the sides are $7-$12 ($3-$6 at Ray's), and a sauce for your steak is $3 (free at Ray's). Add that up - nearly $70 at CPS, and about $40 at Rays. Since, IMHO, the quality is as good at Ray's (I will concede the the service is more polished at the more formal CPS), and I'm happy to pocket that $30.

                                        However, the real bargain remains the bistro side of Ray's. My daughter had the bistro special - $24 included a Caesar salad, Hangar steak, loaded baked potato, and what seemed like half a head of broccoli. My wife, for $23, had a fairly sizable salmon fillet, a regular baked potato, and broccoli. Son had a cup of the crab bisque (best in DC area) and a Hell burger with bacon and cheese for $15. I skipped the bistro menu and had a wedge salad and prime rib, which was $30 for the two. Add in 4 soft drinks, a $9 glass of a fabulous Super Tuscan, bread and cashews (both refilled on request), 4 desserts, and after tax and a generous tip, we were out the door for under $45/person. That's a freaking steal, in my book.

                                        Oh, and the GM and some of the regulars were off tonight, so I'm pretty sure I was not recognized. We took about 1h45 for the meal, sitting for nearly 30 minutes after the check was dropped just talking. Nobody said a word, other than to keep refilling the water glasses.

                                        It seems that not everyone has this experience, or this high opinion of the place, and that's fine. But other than a couple of business dinners downtown, I don't think I've ordered a steak out at another restaurant in DC since I discovered Ray's not long after it opened in Arlington.

                                        1. re: DanielK

                                          All this talk about Ray's has me hankering! Guess I'll have to drop by next week. I will however make a point of telling them, after I've been the polite, friendly guest (as always) who tips well (as always), that I am from (horrors) Bethesda. Thanks for the update, DanielK. I actually prefer the a la carte system as I don't care for either broccoli or baked potato and would just as soon not have to (a) pay for them and (b) see good food wasted.

                                2. re: beauxgoris

                                  You ought to consider the bar menu, still the best deal in town. See explanation of recent pricing/sides changes here:


                                  1. re: Marty L.

                                    Good god, his contempt for his customers is so blatant:

                                    "The sad fact, seen not only at The Classics but also in the sad demise of Bobby's, is that while our Silver Spring clientele is for the most part an absolute joy, our clientele from the wealthier parts of Montgomery County can be not only the cheapest and least appreciative, while at the same time the most difficult and disruptive, and often outright scheming and demeaning."

                                    1. re: reiflame

                                      How does he know where they are from? Does he watch the clientele, observe their behavior, and run to check the res book for their phone exchanges? Well, what if they are walk-ins? Or gave a cell phone number? Or, in our case, kept the phone number even though we moved clear across town (they let you do that now).

                        2. Michael Landrum is on record as stating that his restaurant is probably not ideal if you're into a leisurely dining experience. His success stems from the fact that he identified a market for a steak house minus the formality and expense of the big boys. Obviously, he was right, based on his success.

                          I've been going to Ray's the Steaks since the early days, and the quality of his food is still high, and the style of service is still brisk. That works for me, so I go frequently. On the few occasions where I've hosted groups which required more time, servers seem totally willing to give me as much time as I request.

                          As a former restaurant worker, I appreciate the fact that he looks out for his staff, and protects them from some of the ridiculous behavior which unfortunately accompanies higher-end clientele.

                          On New Year's Eve, I wanted a steak, but I wanted it up-scale, at an oversized table, in a formal dining room, served by a staff that would treat me like the King of England, so I took my wife to Charlie Palmer and paid 150% more for a comparable meal.

                          The bottom line is, Ray's fits for most of my steak needs, but not all, and so I'm glad I've got options.