Rare Bar & Grill
152 West 26th Street (between 6th & 7th Aves.)
What better way to spend the hottest day of the summer thus far than to head into the city for a tasty meal? While most were searching for relief in their air conditioned homes on Friday night, Dino & I felt the need to go toward the heat, into the hot streets of the city. As we took the escalator up from penn station, our stomachs were growling, and our heads quickly began to perspire. The heat wave that hit us as we walked, made us feel some sympathy for what our meal goes through being cooked in the oven. We quickly strolled to our destination, taking a sigh of relief when we opened up the doors at Rare Bar & Grill at Chelsea.
Upon first sight, don’t be intimidated by the building next door which is under construction. I can’t tell you how relieved I was when I realized that was not where we would be eating that night. For a minute there it seemed to be pretty touchy. After walking in, we were greeted separately by two hostess’s who were very accommodating. The bar was packed, and when I saw two seats open up we got all over that. Treating ourselves to a few drinks at a city price of $12 a pop, you get what you pay for. The bar area was loud but hopping, and it was fun to chat a bit before we were escorted to our table. We took the staircase down to the restaurant, and we were seated at a long table which had a side of chairs and a booth side. We had a party of ten, and I can tell you that each diner was starving. I don’t think that we could read the menu quick enough, or come to a conclusion of how we would order the appetizers as fast as possible. Our starvation wasn’t helped at all as there was no bread basket or pickings of any kind. You all know how I love a good bread basket, so this was a tad disappointing. Our waitress was sort of like the last person in gym class, yeah we will take her, but we wouldn’t have picked her originally. I can use part of the restaurants name in saying that she RAREly cracked a smile or showed emotion of any kind. There wasn’t much interaction, but she did her job in bringing the food to the table.
Back to the food!
For the appetizer round we ordered not one, but two french fry baskets to be served at each end of the table, fried calamari, spinach & artichoke dip, and of course frickles!
Okay I’ll start with the frickles, huh? A frickle is a fried pickle, as it was explained on the menu which in it of itself won me over! The frickle on the other hand wasn’t outstanding. First off, the platter it came on seemed half empty, and I found myself really searching for the pickle, as the frickle, appeared to mostly be the fried dough surrounding it. I did enjoy the dipping sauce which was some kind of herby goodness.
The spinach and artichoke dip was a crowd-pleaser (when is it not?). It was piping hot, there was a great balance of flavor, and the colorful chips added a fun visual.
Now the best part for last, the french fries! The basket consisted of waffle fries, thin fries, and sweet potato fries. Did I mention the dipping sauces??? There was your ketchup, chili ketchup, chipotle aoili, bbq sauce, and yes a honey maple dip. Combine a sweet potato fry with a dip of the maple sauce, and that’s just about all I needed for the entire meal. It was so delicious! That by far wins the dip competition, which I just decided needed to happen, congratulations to you mr. honey maple sauce! You win the appetizer round above everything else.
There were other options and salads offered for appetizer, but we decided to forgo the chicken noodle soup, as the thought of it made us sweat even more. All and all, I’d say we were a little too satisfied because our entrees were about to approach and we had all stuffed our faces rather quickly.
The good part of going to dinner with ten people, is that we have 8 more dishes to critic for you, the bad part is that not all of the eaters were thrilled with what rare had produced. I felt the name of the restaurant made it clear that you should probably order a burger, which is exactly what I did. I ordered the artisanal burger, which is decided each week by the chef. That night, it was a burger with smoked muenster cheese, roasted red peppers, onions, and bacon. It was also accompanied with a small side salad. The burger looked appetizing, and I adored that each piece of meat had a toothpick in it with the temperature that you ordered. My burger was delicious, but again the name holds true my burger was RARE not medium as I had ordered it. The burger itself, did not have much seasoning, but the toppings certainly did it justice. It was a large burger, and I was stuffed after only a few bites. The salad might as well have not been on the plate as it had no flavor, and I couldn’t even tell you what it was supposed to taste like.
Dino ordered the 14oz New york strip steak. It was served with chive mashed potatoes and some asparagus. He loves his steaks medium well, but came a little too well done. That's what he gets for ordering it medium-well in a place called Rare. But seriously, who orders steaks medium-well? Nothing much to rave about the strip. Stick with a burger.
Other guests ordered hamburgers with the same overall feeling as me, they enjoyed it, but were not blown out of the water. Our one buddy who ordered the turkey burger thought it was good, and he loved the horseradish mayonnaise which it was topped with. I know all of you are dying to know how the lobster burger was, and I’m saddened to have to be the one to tell you that the two ladies who ordered it were disappointed. It was dry, bland, and crunchy from being fried. While it was a nice size and there was a good amount of lobster present, the execution failed immensely.
I enjoyed the feel of the restaurant, which was noisy but not too loud, it had great energy, and I thought the high ceilings and decor complimented the space. There was also a strong barbed wire theme happening, any takers on why? Yes you guessed it to represent the cows, slightly morbid but clever at the same time.
Our meal concluded with a surprise dessert which was sent for my birthday. This was a sweet ending because we were all too stuffed to actually order dessert. For future reference the desserts are massive and they need to be shared. We saw two girls order separate desserts and one of them literally looked like she was going to cry thinking she had to eat it alone. We all took a spoon full of the chocolate chip bread budding...rich enough for you? It certainly was for us, it tasted like the world’s darkest chocolate and had we not continued on with our cocktails I would have asked for a class of milk. I’d pass on dessert as it wasn’t thrilling.
Overall, in addition to being able to cool off for awhile, the restaurant was satisfactory. The food was good, not great, but i would recommend it for large groups as well as for a good burger. All our friends seemed satisfied. But was it the food or the fact that they were celebrating me turning a year older? You make the final decision =)
As a fun addition they also have a rooftop bar which was a blast! There is no bottle service or admission fee, and the view is spectacular. It was a bit toasty, but I’d imagine most nights are not 100 plus degrees! Heads up to the gentlemen there is a dress code....girls aren’t we lucky that our gender is enough to get us right in?
Rare Bar & Grill: dna approved.
Amanda & Dino
Rare Bar & Grill is located in the New York Fashion District, and opened along with the Hilton hotel in may 2010