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Tom Sietsema Appreciates Rare Steak’s Versatile — and Affordable — Tavern

What the critics are saying this week

The downstairs tavern at Rare Steak and Seafood.
Rey Lopez/Under a Bushel

Rare Steak and Seafood

Washington Post restaurant critic Tom Sietsema gives months-old Wisconsin import Rare Steak and Seafood 2.5 stars (“good/excellent”), thanks in large part to the 210-seat tavern on the ground floor. “No offense to Rare Steak and Seafood,” he writes, “but the blueprint the mini-chain should be replicating is the tavern’s.” The answer to a “cozy, moderately priced downtown retreat” offers up garlic pretzels that double as entertaining drinking companions. And dishes “executed with contemporary finesse” include spaghetti with meatballs, and roast chicken and dumplings with a “pleasing” sauce of sage, thyme, carrots and celery. Salads are huge, he notes; Sietsema’s favorite features buttery avocado, cucumbers, grapes, oregano, and red wine vinegar. The tavern also “excels” at making chicken-fried sweetbreads that are fluffy inside but otherwise “crisp and gently teasing” with espelette pepper. The more formal steakhouse up above also has “vintage charm,” with its coffered ceiling, leather tabletops, and oversized booths, but Sietsema calculates that the downstairs destination offers more bang for the buck. Think: a $27 cut from the center of the rib loin that’s “nine ounces of simple, dry-aged pleasure.”


Marcel’s

Sietsema also visits the posh French-Belgian restaurant that just reopened after dealing with a flooding issue at the start of the year. Chef-owner Robert Wiedmaier’s “new” restaurant now includes a four-course vegetarian menu, thanks to customer demand, but Sietsema is not impressed with it. He enjoyed his first course of Dover sole with zucchini slices, lemon butter sauce, and black mushroom puree, but his vegetarian table mate gets an “ordinary” arugula salad. And Sietsema compares the look and taste of an olive-oil-glossed pistou soup to a “staff meal.” Dessert shines in the form of an “elegant and luscious” hazelnut dacquoise with pistachio ice cream. And the ambiance is still on point, with lighting that “shaves a few years off everyone,” amazing acoustics, and well-dressed staff. But “fingers crossed that spring provides the kitchen with more inspiration than winter has,” Sietsema writes.


Bistro Aracosia

Ethnic Dining Guide author Tyler Cowen crowns Afghan Bistro’s sister restaurant as “one of the best ethnic restaurants in D.C.” (and one of the best in D.C., period). The Palisades newcomer boasts a “nice decor” and there’s reasonable prices for its complex stews and vegetable dishes. He calls out the kadu, made from butternut squash, and the “first rate” eggplant and aushak.


FROM THE BLOGS: Hungry Lobbyist gives Baba’s brunch a try, while Bitches Who Brunch rank the best pancakes in D.C., and BYT gives Schaller’s Stube Sausage Bar’s new vegan option a taste test.

Marcel's

2401 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20037 202 296 1166 Visit Website

Rare Steak and Seafood

1595 I Street Northwest, , DC 20005 (202) 800-9994 Visit Website

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