Thursday, May 09, 2002

TODAY, a restaurant review.

Ray's the Steaks. Silly restaurant name, great restaurant concept. Think of what a Morton's factory outlet might be like.

A high school friend of Jacqueline's was visiting over the weekend from Northern California, and when the subject of dinner arose Saturday the words "big, juicy steaks" came up. Those words aren't spoken in polite company in the Berkeley area, so our guest was especially intrigued. (What are the chances of my finding myself with two of the dozen or so women under 40 left in the United States who aren't vegetarians?)

But where to go? Jacqueline and I agreed that the steak choices in the D.C. area are pretty much (a) very expensive or (b) Outback. We happen to like Outback, but there isn't one all that nearby and it's just not the kind of place we'd take an out-of-town guest. Just for the heck of it, I went to Washingtonpost.com to see if there were other options we had forgotten about. There weren't, but there was this new place that sounded like exactly what we were looking for: good steaks at a fair price. And right across the river, in Arlington, Va.

In a spartan but sorta chic strip-mall storefront, Ray's serves big-time steaks at Outback prices. The three of us chose from among the $17 and $18 steaks and got expertly charred big-time cuts, plus three side orders (mashed potatoes, broccoli and creamed spinach) at no extra charge. But my favorite feature might have been the wine list: Half a dozen selections at one price: $5 a glass or $20 a bottle. The owner recommended a Penfolds shiraz-cabernet that was very good. Twenty bucks!

The dessert speciality is pie. Nice, homey touch, but the pies weren't anything special. Still, we'll be back.

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