Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Steaks were Ray'sed

The RFH Collective is connected not only by the man whose initials form its name, but also by two sets of birthdays that are miraculously close together.  Charlie and John were born about a month apart, and Sam and Dave two years and one day apart.  The latter tie brought the entire Collective together in our nation's capitol last weekend for the first annual RFH Summit, a celebration of birth, food, all things athletic.  Like any convention of influential power brokers, we made sure to fit wholesome meals in between informative seminars and spirited, occasionally contentious meetings of the minds.  Indeed, we needed to fuel the fire.

It began on Friday night, when Dave and I prepared for the brotherly arrival with a couple Taylor Gourmet subs.  No doubt they provided a nice base layer for the night ahead, but our chicken cutlet subs were decidedly too bready.  But worry not, the grub would only improve.  The next morning, Charlie and I awoke to fulfill his only demand during this trip: the bacon, egg and cheese croissant at Firehook Bakery.  I promise you, it beats the crap out of any bacon, egg and cheese you've ever had.  Why?  Freshly scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, fully melted cheddar cheese, and a perfectly flaky, just-greasy-enough croissant.  Anyway, it had to be good -- we wouldn't eat again for nine hours.
Our last meal....until like 9 p.m.
In preparing for the 2k11 Collective Conference, we discussed many options for what would amount to the keynote forum.  Would we want ultra class, or maximum grub?  Microbrew beers or backcountry bourbon?  Or did we just want wings?  I did some research and came across Ray's the Steaks, a DC-area staple as much for it's cuts of meat as its literary wit, I was sure.  I presented the idea to the rest of the Collective, who vetted the Ray's Yelp page more thoroughly than the Senate did the Chief Justice.  Charlie noticed that a number of reviewers had recommended the crab chowder, while Dave found the motherload review: a party of four, each of whom had ordered a different cut and raved about the outcome.  It was settled, the Steaks would be Ray'sed.

Welcome to Ray's the Steaks.  We serve meat.
The DC Metro was acting, well, as it normally does, so when Charlie and my station was closed, we had to take a cab, and John and Dave were stuck changing trains for 30 minutes.  Nevertheless, the Collective convened around 9 p.m. ready to get to work.  The meat locker at the entrance was impressive, but having not eaten all day and coming directly from hosting a hoops clinic for the fools in Dupont Circle, we just wanted to sit and eat.  After Collectively destroying the small dish of spiced cashews, which had been a common point of emphasis for many Yelp reviewers but, frankly, were nothing more than an accessory, I opened up the wine list to see what might not cost a million dollars taste nice with steak.  There it was, a Malbec by the name of "Cuatro Primos" -- "Four Cousins" en espanol.  It was fate.

Hey Charlie, John and Dave, remember when we used to tie our necks together  and wade back and forth?
Oh, we never did that?  Whatever, let's drink!
We wasted little time getting our appetizer orders in, and we held nothing back.  Charlie, John and I all had a bacon and bleu cheese lettuce wedges, and Ray delivered plentiful amounts of the only two ingredients any of us really cared about.   Dave started with some scallops wrapped in bacon, a stellar choice that I'm pretty sure had some kind Heaven sauce drizzled on top.
Shared by the Hendrie boys, delivered by God.
Then the bisque came out.  As Dave might say, this was the most transformational soup ever made.  A rich, think broth that blows every freakin cup or bowl of crab chunks away.  And yes, I said crab chunks.  Big ones, and lots of them.  Don't believe me?  Look below.

Who doesn't want to wash bleu cheese down with crab bisque?
CRAB CHUNKS M***********R!!!!!!
Ok, onto vino bottle numero dos, and what we really came here to talk about: steak.  It should be noted that the Ray's menu has several features that the Collective holds near and dear.  First, there is a picture of the food we were about to eat.  I'm not sure if this post gets the point across, or this post, this post, this post, or this post, but we like to capture what our food looks like, even if the picture on the menu is more of a reference manual for eating the animal we were about to devour.  Second, Ray's includes power rankings, a categorization method we are all too familiar with.  Needless to say, the Ray's Flavor Intensity and Tenderness 1-10 scales (of which no cut ranked lower than a 4) caused a flurry of discussion, debate and second-guessing.  Do you want the lowest combined score?  The lowest tenderness?  The most flavor intensity?  Is the lowest tenderness too tender?  What if the flavor is super intense but only a 3 on tenderness?  Has anyone in the world ever ordered an Entrecote?

After debating whether we would all order different cuts so we could try different ones, it became abundantly clear that we all just wanted a huge, delicious slice of beef and didn't really care what form it took.  So when the waitress finally approached to take our orders, Dave's brief interrogation summed up our Collective attitude:

Dave: How many ounces is the Steak "Bertolucci"?
Waitress: That will be 12-14 ounces.
[without hesitation]
Dave: OK, I would like the 20 oz. New York Strip topped with bone marrow.  Thank you.

John and I both ordered ribeyes and Charlie ordered a porterhouse.  Many ounces caused many smiles.

The RFH Collective.
Oh, and my ribeye had a bone/handle on it.
Ribeye, with rib attached.
We were warned to order our steaks a degree warmer than we wanted, which was good advice.  Charlie's medium came out rather red, but John's was perfect, and Dave and I could still hear the cow mooing from our medium rares -- they were delicious.  The sides? Mashed potaters (one with garlic, one without), creamed spinach, mac and cheese, and broccoli.  At the end of the meal, all that was left...was the broccoli.  Nope, we needed no more veggies, the steaks did us up right.  We concluded the meal with some java and a key lime pie that was as good as I've ever had -- which is to say it was outstanding, because I hate key lime pie.
My first, my last, my everything.
We left the restaurant slowly and stubbornly, found the nearest cab to headed straight back to DC to my apartment.  There, in the studio that I call home, the RFH Collective morphed into mesh shorts and lay prone for the next three hours watching baseball.  The Steaks had been Ray'sed.


Unky Bill said...

I like pie, and I vote!
I think I'll get a bumper sticker.

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