Mmm, steak.

I can’t believe Tom and I forgot to post about the restaurant we went to a couple of weeks ago. It was our anniversary and decided to try out Ray’s The Steaks in Arlington since we’d been hearing raves about it.

It’s a good thing we decided that a couple of weeks in advance, because Ray’s books up 2 weeks ahead of time. (The owner, by the way, is Michael, not Ray.)

Ray’s is in the same little “shopping center” that Pho 75, another of our favorite spots, is. It’s small and narrow, with bare walls and exposed ductwork in the ceiling. You can see straight into the kitchen as well. The wine cabinet is near the door as you walk in, and there are wine cases stacked up along the divider between the dining area and the kitchen. Yeah, it’s a special kind of ambience.

The menu is pretty simple- you have your choice of steaks with a choice of sauces, and they serve creamed spinach and mashed potatoes family-style to the table. When you arrive, they also bring you some Cajun-spiced mixed nuts and some amazing bread I can’t even begin to describe.

Tom had the crab bisque to start- I tasted it and it was amazing. The crab flavor was strong but not overpowering, and the bread went really well with it. The spinach is also excellent- just enough cream to make it taste good but not so much that you miss the texture of the spinach itself.

The steaks are cut onsite and basically go from the cow, to your plate. The chef also doesn’t season the steaks at all- not so much as salt and pepper, so do take the server up on the offer of a sauce- the steaks are good, but even the best steak can tolerate some light seasoning.

Because I had just taken that class at the Wine Expo, I chose the wine- the wine list is such that someone with only enough wine education to know that cabernet goes best with steak can still be confident in making a good choice. In case you’re wondering, Avalon’s Napa Valley Cabernet is worth picking up.

I had picked up some ice cream for us to share at home so we declined dessert, but we were still served two espresso-sized cups of hot chocolate. When I say “hot chocolate,” don’t confuse it with the powdered, just-add-water, beverage-in-a-packet stuff. This was smooth and creamy and without doubt the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had.

And the bill? Well, let’s say it was noticeably less than you’d spend at a Ruth’s Chris or a Morton’s.

So pick a day a few weeks out and make a reservation at Ray’s. And get there early- parking is a real problem.

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