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Thoughts on Bobby Van's?

f
fatfoodie Jun 11, 2010 11:53 AM

I've read great things about the steaks there. So I thought I would go for lunch and try a burger. The food was rather mediocre and the service was negligent at best. Is it better at dinner time? Was it because I was sitting outside? What have your experiences there been?

  1. h
    henmonster Aug 5, 2010 11:50 AM

    I'm a steak lover who does not normally get out to a steakhouse. Was between Prime Rib and Bobby Van's and made the absolute wrong choice. BV's had the patio going for it and promise of a charred crust. Food was fine -- but the service was horrible. Treated all other tables with mucho respect but not ours. I would look around to see what we were doing wrong - but nope. In fact, we had a full-course dinner with bottle of wine and no respect. No upsell even. Was an inconvenience just to give us the bare minimum. Wrote BV management a letter and received no response. Very sad overall.

    Next time, Prime Rib all the way -- for all the reasons cited by Pappy.

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    Prime Rib
    2020 K Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006

    1. l
      lalajane Aug 3, 2010 09:50 AM

      The steak i had there was completely burnt. No excuse for something like that when you call yourself a steakhouse

      1. p
        Pappy Jun 11, 2010 12:04 PM

        I have not been in 5 years, but as a frequent patron of all the city's steak joints, I can EASILY say that Bobby Van's is by FAR the worst place in every catagory (food, wine, service-especially service, and atmosphere/comfort). After several lunches and at least one or two dinners was left to wonder how-oh-how do they stay in business.

        8 Replies
        1. re: Pappy
          f
          fatfoodie Jun 11, 2010 12:06 PM

          That's kind of how I felt after this lunch. But I've read really good things, which makes me very confused. So what are your favorite steak places?

          1. re: fatfoodie
            p
            Pappy Jun 11, 2010 12:50 PM

            They all have their postives and negatives. And i don't judge them solely by the quality of the meat, because for me, that is only one small part of the meal, and frankly, many of them can grill (salamander) a good steak. I care about the environment, the table cloth, the silver, the crystal. I care just as much about the service. Old-school macho gruffness isn't my style. I like a large, proper martini (don't ask me if I want vermouth - it isn't a martini without vermouth. Nor is it a martini if you use vodka). I like a good wine list, and though I'm willing to be ripped off, you can't ask a 300% markup. I like really fresh shellfish, at least in season. And i don't eat dessert, so I don't care about the molten lava cake.

            In my opinion: BLT is all around awful. Maybe as bad as Bobby Vans. The Palm is filthy and absolutely rude to non-regulars. Smith and Wolensky's is ugly and primitive, although I think they may have the best filet (not my usual choice). Morton's is just overyly corporate, but i like the burger at the bar. Charlie Palmer's is beatiful, and the wine list is good, but the food and the service stink. It's also on Capital Hill which is not my 'hood/ I don't consider J&G or Bourbon steak "joints". Ruths Chris and Caucus Room are an "also ran" well behind the front runners. Rays in Arlington has it's place for some people, including me sometimes, but I use these places for business meals, and my clients would be appalled if I asked them to cross the river for a discount steak in a discount setting.

            All around I think Capital Grill is probably the best of the lot. I'm fine with Sam & Harry's too. My favorite is The Prime Rib, but it's not for everyone (thank goodness).

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            Caucus Room
            Market Square North, 401 9th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004

            Prime Rib
            2020 K Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006

            Sam & Harry's
            8240 Leesburg Pike, Vienna, VA 22182

            1. re: Pappy
              f
              fatfoodie Jun 11, 2010 01:11 PM

              Interesting, thanks! I also really like the burger at the bar at Morton's. That's what I was expecting today.

              1. re: Pappy
                hill food Jun 11, 2010 11:37 PM

                I gotta say I like your instincts Pappy esp. regarding what constitutes a martini (although err on the side of caution with the vermouth) I'd like to add that Smith and Wollensky's Caesar salad just sucks. outside of steak (duh), a steak house really needs to have that, creamed spinach and shrimp cocktail down. no apologies.

                1. re: Pappy
                  f
                  Fracis Aug 1, 2010 01:30 PM

                  As someone who spent some time (ahem) at some our area's finer steakhouses, here are some thoughts:
                  Ruth Chris - its not bad, there just isnt anything to recommend it
                  Mortons: great bar specials at happy hour. Downtown location allows you to smoke cigars on the patio. Food is great, but nothing really spectacular
                  The Palm- if you are a regular, you cant go wrong. But all you have to do is engage the staff. The food is as good as it gets. And their summer lobster deal is fantastic.
                  Cap Grille- stuffy and corporate, their food is great. The calimari is the best in the city.
                  Bobby Vans- I know some people love it here, but I have yet to get a good piece of meat and the staff CONSTANTLY tries to up-sell me. Seriously, Im already spending enough. Dont push me to a higher bottle of wine.
                  BLT- their food is very good, and you get a lot of little things you wouldnt get from other places: sauces, popovers, pate, a better selection of vegetables. You are going to pay, but it is a fun, delicious experience
                  J&G/Bourbon: you are on the more "cutting edge" of the steak house world here. If you want meat and spuds, go somewhere else. But if you want to expand out (a bit), both of these places are great.
                  Prime Rib is a fun Mad Men-esque throwback. Food is good. Nice for a special occasion.
                  Ray's. Mediocre. Food is ok. Not great. Service rushes you which is aggravating. Prices are good. If I lived in the neighborhood I would go there, but I would never cross the river again to go there. Its a good bargain for a mediocre meal.
                  Charlie Palmers, food is great. Never had a problem with the service. Elegant setting, if a bit out if the way.

                  The comprehensiveness of this post makes me think I may want to go to the gym now...

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                  Prime Rib
                  2020 K Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006

                  1. re: Pappy
                    ClevelandDave Aug 3, 2010 10:30 AM

                    Expand on your thoughts about The Prime Rib. I want to like the place, but if you see the reviews on here, it isn't generally considered very good. I haven't been so I'm not judging. I have enjoyed Lawry's The Prime Rib in Chicago and Los Angeles, but assume it is no relation. Is the prime rib the thing to get at TPR? Sides? What to avoid (you seem to have much stronger opinions on the negative than the positive based on the above review)?

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                    Prime Rib
                    2020 K Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006

                    1. re: ClevelandDave
                      p
                      Pappy Aug 3, 2010 12:44 PM

                      The Prime Rib, to me, is many, many happy memories. It's probably more about the atmosphere than the food, although I am quite happy to eat there.

                      The decor is black walls and white table clothes, mirrors, sconces, gold and silver, and animal skin prints. The chairs are substantial, and made of tufted black leather. Huge fresh flower arrangements are everywhere. It's more supper club than restaurant.

                      The hosts and waiters are in crisp tuxedos, and address you as "Mr. Pappy". There is a baby grand piano in the dining room. Gentleman are dressed, as dictated by the Jacket and Tie Required policy. Women are equally dressed up for a special evening.

                      The service is impeccable. The martinis are large. The wine properly decanted. A request for ice brings a small crystal ice bucket with small silver tongs, gently set on the table. And while there are lots of tables of men, there are many more of couples. What you don't see, as you do typically at Morton's et al, is the "deal close celebration" table. That's the group of 12 bankers and lawyers toasting themselves that is so ubiquitous at other places.

                      I can't really comment on the food beyond "my usual". My standard order is clams or oysters on the half-shell, which are always impeccably clean and fresh. Then the prime rib, Flintstonian in size, literally 3 inces tall, perfect warm reddish doneness end to end, served with real, fresh, shaved/grated horseradish. And the creamed spinach, which is fine. The Crab Imperial is also delicious. I've also had perfect swordfish and salmon, served very plain. This is not Michelin 4 star cuisine. But what they do, they've been doing for a long time, and they do it just right.

                      So it's certainly not for everyone. It is not casual, or laid back, and it not for those who want "not pretensious." It's not cheap, it's not gourmet, it's not "fun" . It's old school, it's wonderful to some and and it's not apologetic about it.

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                      Prime Rib
                      2020 K Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006

                      1. re: Pappy
                        JonParker Aug 5, 2010 12:28 PM

                        Sadly, to my way of thinking and probably yours too, when the economy started to tank they relaxed the dress code. The DC branch no longer requires ties, although jackets are required at dinner. The Baltimore branch lists their dress code as "Business casual. Jackets are requested for men on Saturday night." The Philly branch no longer requests jackets at all.

                        Aside from that though, I agree with every word you said.

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