Wisconsin-based Rare Steak and Seafood plans to formally introduce itself to D.C. diners Monday, November 6 with a slate of regionally inspired snacks — a welcoming committee that includes fried cheese curds, juicy sausages, and fried bologna sandwiches.
The everyman fare is meant to assure new friends that this is a steakhouse for the masses.
“Peopleism is really what we want to try and convey here. The idea that everyone who walks in can be welcome and invited,” says director of operations and general manager Justin Abad, an alum of the Dupont Circle Hotel, Pop’s SeaBar, and now-defunct Cashion’s.
That’s a lot different from the glitz and glamor of the traditional D.C. steakhouse experience — where political secrets are traded (and overheard), martinis go for a cool $125 a pop, and seafood towers stretch to the ceiling.
Of course, there is a raw bar right as one enters through Rare’s revolving doors. But the seafood platters start at $45 for “The Bugeye” — featuring a half-dozen oysters, clams, mussels, and pieces of big-eye tuna.
Something rarely encountered at other steakhouses: a tavern menu with plenty of Midwestern-inspired dishes. That’s because chef Marc Hennessy, an alum of neighboring BLT Steak, has Midwestern roots. Look for regional staples such as iconic cheese curds ($10), the aforementioned fried bologna muffaletta ($16), and brat schnitzel, made from sausages supplied by locally owned Stachowski’s Market and known simply as “The BratSpatz” ($16).
There’s also plans in the not-so-distant future for some head turning features, Abad says. For starters, Rare plans to serve weekday breakfast and weekend brunch. And in the evenings, look for live piano performances and trolley cart service, featuring table-side presentations of Caesar salad and Bananas Foster.
Abad shared a sneak peek of the tavern menu with Eater, which is subject to slight changes prior to opening.
The 10,000-square-foot restaurant is located inside the Laborers' International Union of North America (1595 Eye Street NW). It’s actually a two-in-one restaurant with a downstairs tavern, lined with leather booths and seating for 150 diners, and a fancier white-tablecloth option, located upstairs that seats about 160 people.
The restaurant’s motif matches the building’s vibe. A giant mural behind the tavern’s bar portrays several tradesmen, and private party rooms feature giant brass doors transferred from the LiUNA building. The restaurant also has direct access to the LiUNA’s rooftop, with a bragging-rights view of the Washington Monument and White House.
“We’ll have exclusive access to the roof for special events,” Abad says. “It’s a great potential for us, and it provides a 360-degree view of downtown D.C.”