Right now, with kids at home and college saving plans needing attention, wrangling a reservation at the “it” restaurant isn’t a huge priority for me. But when I read the words “Argentinean steak house” in connection with Jose Garces’ new restaurant Rural Society, it quickly became a priority. There was nothing about the description that didn’t appeal: Argentinean – sexy; steak – yum; house – comfort.
I was able to nab an 8:45 reservation on Saturday, and the long, sexy restaurant in the Loews Madison Hotel in Logan Circle was worth the hype.
The dining room offers a variety of atmospheres: You can sit in the hustle and bustle of it all near the front at wooden tables with a view of the grill fire, or go for a more intimate seat in the back surrounded by long, white curtains. Our party of four was shown to an enclosed, semi-private nook a few steps above the main dining room, equipped with our own bar (you can access that liquor with a word with your waiter. They’ll even bring you Manhattan fixings.) The nook was fantastic, like having our own comfy dining room in the middle of a posh restaurant.
Rural Society is filled with gentleman waiters who put on a show for you. Our waiter was a handsome Uruguayan with 18 years of experience working at French and Italian restaurants in D.C. He introduced us to the story of Rural Society when he came to our table – a summation of Argentinean food, recommendations from the menu, suggestions of how much to order. Different servers brought food to our table throughout the night, and each did it with charm and flourish. One of my favorite moments was when I asked for directions to the ladies room. A waiter offered his arm and strolled me in the right direction.
The menu offers a mélange of charcuteries, pastas, pizzas and sausages. And steak. Delicious, delicious steak. We took our waiter’s recommendation and ordered family style -- four starters, two steaks and a few sides. Of the starters, the Provoleta and the Sorrentino were my favorite. The Provoleta was aged provolone, served bubbling in its own tiny cast iron skillet, which you scoop up and serve over arugula. The salty, salty cheese with the peppery bite of arugula was fantastic. The ham-and-cheese ravioli of the Sorrentino were light pillows served in a Reggianito cream sauce.
The Washington Post’s Tom Sietsma said to order the ribeye, so we ordered the ribeye (Bife de Chorizo), and we enjoyed the ribeye. But oh, the rump. The Pichana, or domestic Snake River Wagyu rump, had a charred, flavor-filled crust and a melt-in-your-mouth interior. We had knife fights over that rump.
It would be easy to break the bank at Rural Society, which is one of the biggest compaints I’ve noticed on Yelp. We didn’t order cocktails or dessert. But we ordered a good $50 bottle of Malbec and more than enough food, and left the Rural Society completely satisfied at about $80 per person.
1177 15th Street NW, Washington, DC 20005