Sunday, February 24, 2013

Ray's to the Third

As noted by Northern Virginia Magazine, "Upsetting the status quo isn’t necessarily what Ray’s ringleader Michael Landrum aims to accomplish with the unveiling of each subsequent restaurant project. But he sure does seem to enjoy it when it happens."  Ray's to the Third is a more casual version of Ray's the Steaks and is meant to focus on all the "other" items besides steak.  Burgers, sandwiches, fried chicken, and skewers are popular.  Closest Metro is Courthouse.

For lunch, I chose the rather juicy and delicious, Southern-fried chicken that was originally introduced at Ray's the Classics. The house-rubbed bird is fried but not battered, and escorted by quadruple-cheesed elbow macaroni and refreshing cole slaw.  I could really taste the simple salt and pepper seasoning on the chicken, and the ultra creamy and cheesy mac & cheese was to die for.  Landrum offers a spicier companion called "Hell chicken" - a marinated version inspired by Tennessee’s Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack. And even that remains a work in progress. "We’ve actually been gradually increasing the heat level," Landrum confesses.

Rt3 also emphasizes on 100% premium steak cuts, aged in house, hand trimmed, and ground fresh through out the day and loosely hand-formed into massive patties for an extra juicy and rich burger. Keith loves the burgers at Ray's Hell Burger, but with its temporary relocation/merger into Rt3, he opted for the B.I.G. Poppa 10 oz. burger with a black pepper crust, loaded with aged danish bleu cheese, cognac and sherry sautéed mushrooms, grilled onions, lettuce, and tomato.  Served with french fries and onion rings, Keith chose to up the "healthy" factor by adding on the Mud Pie Milkshake made with vanilla ice cream, Oreo cookies, and chocolate sauce.  The burger patty overpowered the bun and quickly fell apart, leaving a sloppy mess.  The meat is cooked slightly under what you may be used to, so we recommend you order up.  But the flavor was just as delicious as Keith expected.  The larger size is A LOT, so be prepared.  The fries are not the best, and we preferred the other sides like onion rings, tater tots, or mac & cheese.  The shake was very thick and indulgent.  Boozey versions are also available.

The interior is nothing to write about and the service was average, with a chain restaurant flair.  While Hell Burger and the Steak & Cheese place are temporarily closed due to "landlord issues", those items are available near the front entrance at a separate walk-up counter with its own sitting area.  It actually took awhile before food orders came out in the main dining area, but it wasn't terribly annoying.  Rt3 is family-friendly, and I appreciate the "other" menu items available besides steak, but my preference of the Landrum empire remains with Ray's the Steaks.  Free parking is available in the lot next door.

Total Rating: 3.8
Food: 4, Price: 4, Service: 3, Ambience: 3, Accessibility: 4

What I ate:
Ray’s Famous Skillet Fried Chicken
with macaroni & cheese and cole slaw

Plus Keith ate:
B.I.G. Poppa
au poivre burger, aged danish bleu cheese,
cognac and sherry sautéed mushrooms, grilled onions
with french fries and onion rings

Mud Pie
vanilla shake mixed with oreo and chocolate

  Ray's To the Third on Urbanspoon

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