Thursday, July 14, 2011
Medium Rare Heats up Cleveland Park
Medium Rare is an impressive one-trick pony. For $19.95 you get an uber-fresh mixed green salad accompanied by rustic bread, prime, dry aged cap steak, thinly sliced, cooked to order, which is served with a secret sauce and flanked by hand cut fries.
The influence of Ray's the Steaks--where manager Brian Zipin had a brief stint following a very successful run at Central--is apparent in the stripped down dining room and limited menu. Like the original Ray's, there is a warm intimate neighborhood feel, perhaps owing to the fact that Medium Rare's space is small and that it does not take reservations. While a line reportedly starts forming at 5pm on weekends, B and I walked in for dinner last Wednesday with no wait.
The service was friendly and efficient. Waiters note drink orders and steak preferences on the butcher block paper, which covers the table. The limited wine and beer list is moderately priced and well-suited to the menu.
What it does it does excellently. I am pretty sure the crusty, warm bread is the same that is served at Central. The mixed green salad's crisp butter lettuce is tossed with a lovely vinaigrette. The steak comes out in two parts--so do not dismay if your original serving size does not meet expectations. Upon completing your first course, a server will be back around--without you having to ask--with more steak and fries. Trust me, you will want both.
The dessert menu offers the only choice of the evening (unless you are a vegetarian and opt for the portebella mushroom in place of the steak). With five alluring options (carrot cake, cheesecake, etc), I could not pass up the massive hot fudge sundae. Rainbow sprinkles, whipped cream, and nuts top the luscious fudge and creamy vanilla ice cream. Desserts are sized to share among two if not three or four people.
Medium Rare is just as playful with its soundtrack, which is somewhere between Five Guys and Mario Batali's rock-fueled NYC dining rooms. And on a bathroom break you can learn French pick up lines akin to "my apartment has a hot tub," making it a great date option!