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Restaurant Review: Victor-y at Rare by Drai's

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Believe it or not, I've inventoried lots of notes and photos of good ol' casual neighborhood haunts.  Places like BLD, Pace, Taste on Melrose and Squirl are on tap for upcoming posts. But early January had me Dressing up in holiday Duds and going glam.  So the night after my outing at Craig's, I Donned my Hollywood-length skirt aka "What skirt?" and ventured forth to Victor Drai's latest, Rare by Drai's on Sunset Blvd.

On my last posting, I alluded to Craig Susser's storied years in the Los Angeles Dining scene. Victor Drai is also the stuff of LA restaurant/nightlife legend.  In the mid-1990's, Drai's on La Cienega Blvd. was the "it" place, the hardest-to-get reservation in town in a time when where you Dined was as notable to your career as who your agent was.  Restauranteurs were part of LA's pomp and pageantry.  Craig Susser, Victor Drai, Wolfgang Puck, Hal Frederick and a few others like them were as A-list themselves as the entertainment industry stars who supported them.

Victor Drai is the one who's never been on American Idol!

A few weeks ago, Rare by Drai's opened on Sunset Blvd. on the less congested end of WeHo's Sunset ride.  The space that was once Le Dome (speaking of legendary) and then BLT is now Rare by Drai's, a partnership between Victor Drai and the parent company of BLT.  One look and you see Victor's nightlife flourishes everywhere.  If Victor wanted you to think rare red colors in steak terms, the Decor echoes the concept, and some may say garishly.  However, the red works in the way pulling off an over-the-top fashion statement does. Rare has boldly committed to just-shy-of-tawdry pinks and reds whelming furnishings, chair coverings and paintings on the walls.  

At the 8PM time slot on a Saturday, the room felt like a fine Las Vegas restaurant, one overcome with newness and the high number of reservations.  That said, the emphasis was on steakhouse and food.  By 11, when we left, Duality had set in.  Club hangout or foodie Den?  Let the music Decibels be your Decider.  In a town that often gets one good seating a night, it may well be a winning formula to be both, as long as the food can sustain its current quality. All the best to the Don of Dazzle.

Our selections:

1. Artichoke Salad with arugula, trumpet mushroom, parmesan, and lemon vinaigrette.  While conceived simply, it could not have been tastier.  I was beginning to wonder if we were in for Disappointment because of the server's attentional Deficits.  In her Defense, perhaps the servers were under-trained or the place was short-staffed.  With the salad, I ordered a well-suited Delicate Domaine Ott rosé wine. Divine.

2. 10 oz Filet Mignon with burgundy reduction sauce.  Requested "medium" preparation was absolutely perfect.  The quality of the beef impressed and the sauce was classically executed.

3. Pepper Steak 10oz Filet  (one of Rare's specialty Dishes) served with their much-touted fresh cracked peppercorn sauce.  The tender steak swims in the full-bodied sauce which may be slight overkill.  But my Dining companion was quite satisfied by the taste and the perfection of his done-ness request.  From  both steaks, we presume that Chef Patrick Florendo has prided himself on correctness of inner temperature.  We were not his prime customers, given that neither my friend Doron nor I prefer a steak rare.  Too bad, as the quality of the beef could have been served raw!

4. Grilled Jumbo Asparagus prepared simply with lemon zest.  Jumbo asparagus can resonate with times gone by but I must say that these had a tasty char and the lemon added fresh zip.  

5.  Roasted Tri Color Carrots orange tarragon - one of the highlights of the evening.  I highly recommend.

Because of the spotty service and little interest in our Dining progress, we opted to chill at Susina Bakery for Dessert.  That's a miss on the part of the restaurant.  We should have been wooed towards a Dessert given that Chef Patrick's claim to fame was that of a pastry chef at the fine Dining spot Tableau in the Wynn Hotel Las Vegas.   

Our overall experience Delighted and certainly Didn't lack for flair.  The crowd alone provides fun Distractions between courses (no Dessert but eye candy all night!).  There's no Disputing the meal itself; we cleaned our Dishes, hearty ones at that.  The warning, and one knows when one ventures into steakhouse territory, is that the bill is not for the feint of heart or wallet.  I graciously and gratefully accepted my friend's willingness to treat, while whispering Phew under my breath.  It's rare, pun intended, for me to spend over $100 per person for Dinner.  Last time was probably at Cut, another renowned-and-worthy steakhouse. 

Usually my fortune telling psychic skills kick in and can predict the life span of a restaurant. Rare by Drai's would win the prize at the Guess-My-Longevity carnival booth; I can not read the signs.  I think it will appeal to the well-heeled 30-50 set given that Rare is the new red.  Red is the new orange.  And orange is of course the new black!

Rare by Drai's  
8720 W. Sunset Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069