There have been plenty of stories written about Ray’s the Steaks at East River – many of them predating the restaurant’s opening this month by more than a year.  Something about the combination of Michael Landrum and a part of Washington whose only sit-down dining option was Denny’s made it too good to resist.  We were eagerly watching and waiting – after all, it’s a short drive from our H Street neighborhood to Minnesota Avenue.

Two weeks ago, Landrum’s commitment to Ward 7 finally came to fruition.  The fanfare and ribbon-cutting even drew Mayor Fenty across the Anacostia and got some great media coverage.  Of course there were those who were ready to criticize the restaurant and its offerings even before they saw the menu – a situation that prompted Landrum to post a standing media response on Don Rockwell.

Ray’s the Steaks at East River (Landrum told Tim Carman that the name changed from Ray’s the Heat as “a signal to that community that they’re getting my A property”) is a short walk from the Minnesota Avenue Metro stop on the Orange line.  It’s about a fifteen to twenty minute drive from Capitol Hill.  It’s not exactly a dining destination, which should tell you exactly who Landrum wants to serve on a daily basis (hint: it’s not the people who are tired of waiting for a table in Courthouse).

Even so, I couldn’t wait to check out the newest Ray’s to see how it measures up with its Arlington counterpart.  So I gathered three of my co-workers and we took a ride.  Our experience after the jump.

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img_6875Several of our fellow food writers have recently provided some anecdotal evidence that suggests that Washington’s dining scene hasn’t been hit by the tough economic times as hard as some had feared.  If you remain unconvinced, this week should go a long way toward changing your mind.

After months of preparation, two of the most anticipated restaurant openings in Northern Virginia will take place almost back-to-back.  This evening, Michael Landrum opens Ray’s the Steaks in its new location at 2300 Wilson Boulevard in Arlington (paving the way for a new seafood-themed restaurant called Ray’s The Catch later this month in its current location).  On Thursday night, Robert Weidmaier opens his third establishment on King Street in Alexandria with Brabo (a laid-back ‘tasting room’ and a butcher shop will follow as part of Weidmaier’s relationship with Kimpton’s new Lorien Hotel and Spa).

img_6881If we’re living in a recession, maybe someone should mention it to these guys.

I stopped into Brabo this weekend to take a quick look around and snap some pictures.  And although I didn’t have the same opportunity to do so at Ray’s, I did manage to get a few shots through the windows.

Like most of you, we’ve been looking forward to these two for a while now.  After the jump, shots from the interiors of Brabo and Ray’s, along with information on hours and more details. (more…)