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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Steakhouse, American
Upmarket restaurant

Sun–Fri 6:00pm–9:30pm
Sat 5:30pm–10:00pm

Bar Beer, wine, liquor
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx
Reservations Accepted

Silver Spring, MD
8606 Colesville Rd.
Silver Spring, MD
(301) 588-7297
Ray’s the Classics
Retro American dining: our new guilty pleasure

Ah, America. Land of big plates filled with big food. What happened to eating this way? It’s been villainized and defamed by snobs like us who insist on loving farm-to-table concepts and hole-in-the-wall Chinese joints. Places like this are now exotic to us, and so maybe it’s with those rose-tinted glasses that we admit we really, really like Ray’s the Classics.

While not quite as good as Ray’s the Steaks (har), it does have more atmosphere. We think both places are quite nice for not trying too hard and avoiding that gross corporate thing, and the service does a good job of supporting the constant, bustling crowds. This Ray’s is more minimalist—simple lighting dangles from the ceiling—but it still manages to be fun and cool. Seating is also more comfortable here than at the original.

The menu also cuts a wider swath through Americana retro dining. Crab is the way to start: both the crab fritters with Maryland crab; and the “Crab Royale,” which is a mess of lump crabmeat with Old Bay and sherry butter. Delicious. You almost feel guilty eating it without cracking and peeling and stabbing yourself in the thumb…this is like mainlining crab. The steaks are similar to those at the steakhouse: wet-aged, not dry-aged, soft and tender but missing the funkiness that we seek in a top-notch steak. They’re well charred, though, and ideal at medium rare. The brandy mushroom cream sauce doesn’t really add much; it just masks the beefiness. “Cajun” spices—another option for the steak—aren’t really all that spicy. Hanger steak is never tough, a feat considering the lean cut. Their work with spinach is good, both creamed and in a soufflé.

If you don’t feel like glutting it up, the bar menu has smaller versions of many of the menu items, including steaks. And they have these addictive little spiced nuts that go great with a martini. Just don’t fill up; you’ve still got a long way to go.

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