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Medium Rare

I apologize if there is already a thread on this (couldn't find one in my search). Has anyone been to the new, simplistic Medium Rare "steak house" in Cleveland Park? Thinking about going in a few weeks with some friends but was waiting to hear what the Chowhounds thought of it.

Personally I don't mind the idea of streamlined menu...as long as they do everything really, really well.

Also a question about reservations: I checked on open table and the only times available for night after night was 10pm. Does anyone know if this is just because they are booked up to a month out or if they only accept reservations after a certain time?

http://www.mediumrarerestaurant.com/

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  1. I remember reading somewhere else that they weren't going to be taking reservations during prime time, but I can't remember the source of the statement.

    2 Replies
    1. re: DanielK

      I've been following this restaurant on the Rockwell forum. They will only take reservations at 5pm and 10pm. Otherwise, first come, first serve. They want a presence on OpenTable so people will read about them.

      1. re: DanielK

        I heard from the restaurant on Twitter. They said they hold 95% of the reservations/tables for walk-ins. So Open Table isn't really all that helpful. Guess we'll just take out chances.

      2. Maybe they're trying to be an alternative to Ray's. Is there really nothing on the menu but steak/salad/fries and desserts? I'm not a dessert-eater (or actually, not a dessert-at-restaurant-prices-and-portion-sized buyer). Would they be upset if I just had the steak?

        3 Replies
        1. re: MikeR

          My understanding is that you can just order the steak frites. Dessert is optional.

          1. re: Mulan

            The menu says desserts are $8. Dessert and drinks are not included in the pre-fixe menu. The menu itself is bread, salad, steak, and frites. Sounds like the perfect meal to me anyway :)

            1. re: Elyssa

              The Post said that they do have a meatless menu, but it's not presented. The waitress asks only how you want it cooked.

        2. My boyfriend and I went this past Saturday (opening weekend) and had a fantastic experience, minus some service issues that I'm going to chalk up to it being the first weekend they were open. Obviously you know what you're getting, the only question they ask is how you like your steak, and it's "go" from there. The bread was super crusty, and the salad had a delicious mustardy vinaigrette. Then, the main event. My cap steak was cooked perfectly (medium) and super tender. It's served with this "secret sauce" that's more of a gravy. Whatever it was, it was delicious. The fries were very crispy and golden. All in all, it ruled. Then, servers come around with a hot plate with more steak and fries if you'd like a second serving (how can you say no almost?) and leave you a little pot of the sauce.

          For $19.50 (nineteen fifty oh my god) it almost couldn't be a better situation. Desserts are additional, but massive. Can't speak for the wine/beer list because I didn't drink.

          The only issues we had were regarding service, but again that's forgiveable the first weekend. The timing in between the courses was really off, and servers seemed really scattered like they had no idea which plates were going to which tables, which tables had/hadn't gotten seconds, etc. Also, the temperatures on our second serving were not what we had asked for, but it ended up being a good thing because the rarer steak was better.

          As far as the reservations, we had one for 10pm on a Saturday, but it wasn't that crowded when we got there. It was definitely full, but there wasn't much of a wait for the patrons who didn't have reservations.

          Sorry this is so long! Hope it is helpful to fellow Chowhounders.

          23 Replies
          1. re: emmaleeb

            20 bucks is all!??

            1. re: alkapal

              Yeah, if you're like me and just drink plain water and don't order dessert, then maybe $26 including tax and tip. Desserts are $8, cocktails probably that much and upwards, probably about that for a glass of basic red wine. One bottle mentioned in today's Post article that I wouldn't try to pronounce without the assistance of a speech therapist goes for $70, which apparently is a good deal.

              Medium Rare is from the same folks that do BGR The Burger Joint, so my musing about it being on the same axis as Ray's probably isn't too far off. I'd probably go there now and then if they open a branch on the Virgina side, with free and easy parking.

              1. re: MikeR

                i tell you one thing, EVERY time i go near BGR in lyon village shopping center, i think to myself that this is the best beef smell i've ever known. i still haven't eaten there, because the price is a wee bit high when i can cook burgers at home a little over a mile away. ;-).

                1. re: alkapal

                  For a quick Saturday dinner, husband went to BGR in dupont while I went to sweet green. He went to BGR and got a veggie burger, fries, and asparagus "fries" (which were pretty terrible, but worth trying to learn that!). $19 and change. $19. And. Change.

                  1. re: Jeserf

                    whew! that takes my breath away! i guess i'll just stick to sniffin' the rarefied air of the burger grill exhaust.

                    then... head into giant and ask the butcher to grind some london broil for burgers.....

                    1. re: Jeserf

                      Wow! But I'll bet it was a lot of food. I usually just order a burger because with a side I'm always either overstuffed or have left-overs that I might not really want to eat later. I used to order fries at 5 Guys, take home 2/3 of them, and re-heat the leftovers in the oven or re-fry them, but it just seemed like too much effort just to not throw away the leftovers.

                      I'm not sure what "asparagus fries" are, but it sure doesn't sound like something that would be very good more than a few minutes out of the fryer. That might have been a better deal and a better taste shared between two or more eaters.

                      On the other hand, if he went to BGR and ordered a veggie meal, why didn't he go to Sweet Green with you? ;)

                      1. re: Jeserf

                        I'd like to point out that the menu price, including tax, for a veggie burger, fries, and asparagus fries is $16.25, not $19.

                        Also, those sides are meant for 2 people. So he ordered a burger, and sides for 4 people. $16.25 isn't outrageous for that.

                        1. re: DanielK

                          I saw the receipt, because I did a double take and was astounded which is why I clearly remember it being 19 and change. He thought it was $21, hence why I saw the receipt at all. I wanted to try to asparagus so I guess it's my fault that he ordered them, and I couldn't eat more than 1 because they were not good. If they only offer fries for more than one people, I suggest it's a huge waste of food for a normal solo diner and wouldn't recommend going there.

                          For $19, even though my husband is a Marine and can easily eat a ton, it was our second attempt there and I don't think I could ever let him go back given the price ON TOP of how smushed you are in there.

                          Continue to do all the math you want - I did the double take at that insane price. Believe what you want. And no, he didn't get a soda.

                          1. re: Jeserf

                            I don't know what to tell you. Look at the website, those are the prices. There must have been something else in his order that you are not remembering, because there's a $3 discrepancy. Extra veggie patty, maybe?

                            1. re: DanielK

                              This dispute sounds awfully familiar. Give it up already!

                          2. re: DanielK

                            I'm sure this is more appropriate for a different thread, and I believe I've made this point before, but I don't know why people think BGR is so outrageous. It is a quality burger. You are not going to get a real quality burger for dirt cheap. This is why you are going to BGR and not McDonalds (or Five Guys for that matter). I think it is a different quality because the meat is different----although in this case it was a veggie burger.

                            I'm not really that concerned with the price of BGR---it is a damn fine burger so you get the quality you pay for. By comparision the veggie burger at BGR is $7.99 (according to their website, which is what I'm going to go off of). The veggie burger at Good Stuff Eatery is $6.89

                            A regular burger at BGR is $6.99. At Good Stuff $5.69. This really isn't that big of a difference. BGR is more or less $1 more.

                            -----
                            Good Stuff Eatery
                            303 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington, DC

                            1. re: Elyssa

                              Agreed, but I also think if you're going to charge that much, certain things should fall in to line like the ability to sit somewhere and not be stood over while people wait for your seats and apparently the ability to trust your receipt. Maybe BGR charges an environmental charge like other places are doing more of these days

                              1. re: Jeserf

                                I don't think BGR charges an environmental charge...at least I've never noticed that. Good Stuff Eatery on the other hand does.

                                -----
                                Good Stuff Eatery
                                303 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington, DC

                              2. re: Elyssa

                                I am a bit of a fan of good burgers, I love Rays, served medium rare with a root beer on the side, I really like a basic 5 Guys with what ever kind of fries I get that day, but I just can't get to the point where I don't feel like the burgers at BGR aren't overpriced, second best copies of a better burger served elsewhere. And if you buy the sides you just have to wonder, would this have worked if it was a bit smaller or if a real chef had prepared it? I despise the onion rings at BGR, they are the varicose veins of side dishes, ugly, sad and slightly creepy. And the staff is trying, but they aren't quite a professional show. Admittedly, it is a burger shop, but you would think that they would be a bit better at customer service.

                                -----
                                5 Guys
                                6210 Quander Rd, Alexandria, VA 22307

                              3. re: DanielK

                                stopped in yesterday, and picked up the menu.

                                veggie burger 7.99
                                fries 2.89
                                asparagus 3.89
                                arlington meals tax 10%
                                va sales tax 6%

                                1. re: alkapal

                                  Arlington has 16% tax on restaurants? That would be $17, but OP was in DC.

                      2. re: emmaleeb

                        Question: Do they onlly offer one cut of steak?
                        There no other listing on their menu, except the desserts....

                        1. re: RobertM

                          Only one cut of meat from what I understand. Maybe they'll change it up every now and then.

                          1. re: RobertM

                            As far as I can tell, only the cap steak (which is usually a fairly thin cut) and a portabello mushroom.

                            1. re: RobertM

                              Yes, it's just the sirloin cap steak. I've read that they don't plan to add to their menu, save a rotating vegetarian option, so cap steak it is!

                            2. re: emmaleeb

                              Thanks so much for your review. I'm really looking forward to checking this place out. Steak frites is one of my favorite dishes of all time!

                              1. re: Elyssa

                                Absolutely. Based on my experience, I would highly recommend it. I haven't eaten *too* many steak-frites, but I have eaten a lot of food and I'm definitely trying to work this into my schedule again soon : )

                                1. re: emmaleeb

                                  Review of Medium Rare by the City Paper

                                  http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/bl...

                            3. I went last week and had a very similar experience to Emmaleeb.

                              Loved the food -- bread was good, dressing on the salad was delicious, steaks were cooked perfectly. My boyfriend and I split a bottle of wine, so the total bill was about $90. I thought it was a great deal for the amount of food they give you and the quality. Most bottles were between 30-40 and glasses of wine or pints of beer are around $8. We didn't get dessert, but they looked incredible.

                              The service was a bit sloppy, but overall fine. Also, we went at about 8 pm on Thursday night, and only had to wait 10 minutes. There were a number of tables that were opening up then.

                              One thing that confused me was the way that they serve the steaks. The first serving is sliced and covered with the secret sauce/gravy. The second serving comes with the sauce on the side. I would prefer to have it the second way, so you can add as much as you want. Not a big deal though.

                              I will definitely go again.

                              1. Thinking of holding a birthday party here on a Saturday or Sunday night, and just found out they won't take reservations--even for a party of 10-15 people. Anyone know how bad the waits are? Any suggestions/thoughts on when to go to avoid a long line?

                                1. Went to Medium Rare tonight for an early dinner. The place was empty at 6 PM on a Thursday night, perhaps not surprisingly. I was hoping this place would be comparable to Le Relais de Venise l'Entrecôte, which I tried in Manhattan earlier this year. Considering the fact that MR is a blatant rip-off of Le Relais's concept, I thought the quality and execution suffered much by comparison.

                                  We ordered one steak medium, one steak medium-rare. Medium-rare turned out fine, but the purported 'medium' was definitely a bit too close for comfort to well-done. The quality of the meat is fine, though the slices were uneven and the whole thing looks a bit sloppy. The salad was good (butter lettuce leaves, not frisée or 'mixed greens' or iceberg, thankfully; mustardy vinaigrette). The fries were fine.

                                  Above all, though, this "secret sauce" just doesn't do it for me. It tastes mostly like liver. I think it could benefit from a good dose of something delicious -- glace de viande? Mushroom stock? Cream? Butter, even? It seems like they were going for "umami bomb" but seriously...it tastes like mediocre pâté, melted down.

                                  I suppose you get what you pay for at $19.50 for all, but I won't be going back.

                                  -----
                                  Medium Rare
                                  3500 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington D.C., DC 20008

                                  12 Replies
                                  1. re: ellabella

                                    I am not sure what the 'rip-off' is: a steak-only restaurant? Le Steak was a French steak house in Georgetown in the 1970s. Guess the only item on the menu......

                                    1. re: Steve

                                      Sorry, maybe I should have said that Medium Rare was clearly "inspired by" Le Relais?

                                      Acknowledged in the Washingtonian here, for what it's worth: http://www.washingtonian.com/restaura...

                                      I can't speak to Georgetown in the 1970s, as I wasn't alive back then; but I don't just mean to point to the "steak-only" concept -- I mean more generally the concept of a three-course prix-fixe, including salad with mustard vinaigrette, and steak frites served in two portions, with "secret sauce."

                                      In either case, there's clearly nothing wrong with being "inspired by" or even "ripping off" an older existing restaurant. My only point was the Medium Rare seems frankly to invite the comparison with an established chain, and suffers from it.

                                      -----
                                      Medium Rare
                                      3500 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington D.C., DC 20008

                                    2. re: ellabella

                                      You're comparing "Medium Rare" with something in French?

                                      So the salad was good, the fries were fine, the meat was of good quality. Let's see . . . what do they serve there? Salad, fries, and meat. Your problem is that you didn't like how the meat was sliced? Or that "medium" was bordering on "well?" And you didn't care for the sauce?

                                      How about the price? I think $20 is a good deal, and I'll bet if you had complained about the medium steak being too well done they'd have brought you another. You said you got what you paid for.

                                      I don't see a problem here other than your dislike for the sauce. But you won't be going back? Will you be going back to Le Relais de Venise l'Entrecôte?

                                      I guess it's OK if you don't care to return, but that's a pretty negative statement to make in a review when you basically liked the food and didn't say anything about the atmosphere one way or the other, or the service, or the wine.

                                      I trust that by "rip-off" you didn't mean that you felt ripped off, but that the concept was copied from the New York place, which is an outpost of the Paris place?

                                      1. re: MikeR

                                        "I mean more generally the concept of a three-course prix-fixe, including salad with mustard vinaigrette, and steak frites served in two portions, with "secret sauce."" -- thats really not a new concept

                                        1. re: agarnett100

                                          Really? I've never seen it before. Why is everyone tearing down ellabella? She has a right to her opinion, and nothing about her review struck me as ill-balanced. Jeez, calm down people.

                                          1. re: hamster

                                            That was not a tear down of anyone. Just stating its not an original ideal its a variation many what occurs in many restaurants in Paris

                                            1. re: agarnett100

                                              Really? I lived in Paris for two years and I have never been served two portions of steak there. The only place I can think of that is slightly similar is Chartier. You do of course see steak-frites on almost every menu, and you also see "menus" or prix fixe meals on almost every menu, but that is not exactly what Medium Rare is doing.

                                              But even if you're saying this is common in Paris, which I disagree with, why wouldn't it still be original to bring it to DC?

                                              My "tearing down" comment was less aimed at you and more at MikeR, so no offense intended.

                                              -----
                                              Medium Rare
                                              3500 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington D.C., DC 20008

                                              1. re: hamster

                                                Original to DC - I agree with that. We can just agree to disagree everyone has an opinion - Happy Friday

                                                To me an original concept means that it has never been done by anyone else like developing the theory to make nuclear fusion work successfully to power a city.

                                                1. re: agarnett100

                                                  No, it's not original to DC as my example above.

                                                  It doesn't matter, and it shouldn't, since every restaurant is pretty much the same concept as restaurants before it.

                                                  What's odd is the misplaced belief that the idea of a restaurant is a ripoff or original or is even a source of creativity, unless your idea of creativity has been reduced to reading press releases.

                                                  They serve food; it's been done before.

                                                2. re: hamster

                                                  I only questioned what she REALLY didn't want to eat there again. Based on what was actually substantive in her review, I would have tried it (if I wanted to go to Cleveland Park to eat anything, which I don't).

                                                  Of course she's entitled to her opinion. I didn't question her comments on the food (which, as it sounded to me, was that it was pretty good except for a slightly overdone medium steak and a sauce she didn't care for). But is this a reason not to return? That's where I thought this otherwise fairly detailed review needed further explanation.

                                                  1. re: MikeR

                                                    Thanks for the spirited discussion, all. Taking into account some of the concerns expressed above, here's my bottom-line review, in hopes that it might help someone who is thinking about going to Medium Rare:

                                                    (1) In my opinion, if you're a restaurant that does one dish, there's no excuse not to do it impeccably. And if that dish is steak, part of doing it impeccably means cooking it correctly. That's why the quibble about an overdone steak rises above the level of quibble -- to me, at least.

                                                    (2) In my opinion, the sauce served at Medium Rare is not good. Think liver, bouillon cubes, and salt -- rather than beef stock, herbs, or butter. On a pragmatic level, this means that if you go, my advice is to order the sauce on the side. Because if you don't, your steak will come swimming in it, and if you -- like me -- don't care for it, even an attractively affordable $19.50 meal can seem not-worth-it.

                                                    (3) In my opinion, Medium Rare is not worth a repeat visit, even at such an affordable price. This is in part because the sauce is not palatable to me. But it's also in part because I've seen this exact same concept done elsewhere, and done successfully. MR isn't executing at that level -- at least not yet. So if I want a three-course steak frites prix-fixe, I'll go elsewhere; and if I want to spend $19.50 on dinner, I'll also go elsewhere.

                                                    -----
                                                    Medium Rare
                                                    3500 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington D.C., DC 20008

                                                    1. re: ellabella

                                                      I think your review was informative and useful. If I were to go there, I'd ask for the sauce on the side. But, in fact, the menu (on line) says that the steak is served with "secret sauce." That, in itself, would be a warning to me to ask for the sauce on the side. I'd be willing to give it a try, but I'm not in the habit of dousing my steaks with any kind of sauce.

                                                      Any restaurant serving any food should cook it impeccably whether it's steak or kung pao chicken. I don't think that serving only one thing necessarily makes that any easier to do. Steaks vary as do definitions of degree of done. Temperature can be measured, but two pieces of steak cooked to the same temperature may have a different amount of red inside. In this case, they slice the steak so you (and the cook, and the server) can at least see, when it's served, how it's cooked. It may not be unreasonable for the server, when bringing your plate, to say "This looks a little more done to me than medium. Is it OK or should I get you another one?" But I also don't expect a fixed price fixed menu twenty buck restaurant to either employ or train the waiters for that. It's up to you to do the quality control and say something if it's not up to par.

                                                      Where else can you get a perfectly cooked steak with decent fries and salad for $20 every time? The NYC place you mentioned is $25, and how many steaks have you had there? Maybe your next one won't be done exactly as you like it.

                                                      Look, I appreciate the information you've offered. But I don't care whether you eat there again or not. That's not a relevant data point for me. If you had left that out, I probably wouldn't have commented about your experience at Medium Rare at all.

                                                      Better read this quickly. It'll probably get deleted as being useless bickering.

                                                      -----
                                                      Medium Rare
                                                      3500 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington D.C., DC 20008