Shortly after moving to the Washington DC area, I heard about Rural Society DC, the Argentinian steakhouse from Philadelphia Iron Chef Jose Garces. After reading Tom Sietsema’s 2.5 star review, calling it ‘an urban, sleek and smoky ode to steaks and more,’ it quickly rose to the top of my shortlist of restaurants to check out.
Time passed, and as we started to explore (and eat) more of our newly adopted city, we kind of forgot about Rural Society. But it still remained on our Must Eat There list.
Jump to October, when we heard from a good friend (and my wife’s med school classmate) that she would be in town, and wanted to go out to eat with us. We shared an incredible meal a few months prior at Todd English’s bluezoo, and wanted to try something of that level in DC. She told us she was staying at the JW Marriott. We instantly thought of Rural Society. I immediately booked a reservation for that Saturday night.
We arrived at the Loews Madison Hotel shortly before our reservation time, and caught up in the hotel’s lobby while awaiting our table.
Our hostess led us back to our table, which was in a nook that resembled a study in a cow rancher’s home. Tom Sietsema nailed it with this description:
Opposite the grill space are stacks of oak and hickory and four niches, each with a table for four, that call to diners looking for privacy but not total anonymity. The small rooms bridge Argentine cowboy culture with the hotel’s past by dressing each with old cattle rating slips as well as a vintage minibar that would look at home at Sterling Cooper, the fictional ad agency from “Mad Men.” (The hotel likes to think it introduced the concept of help-yourself spirits to guest rooms in the 1960s.)
Upon being seated, I noticed a minibar right behind my wife’s seat, with a bottle of Japanese Whisky: Nikka Single Malt Miyagikyo. I had never had Japanese Whisky before, so I was instantly curious.
And that’s when our waiter, Jaime, greeted us.
I asked Jaime about the Whisky, and he was extremely knowledgable about it, and he offered a taste of it. Since I was a Japanese Whisky newbie, I instantly accepted.
It was like no other Whisky I had ever tried: Smoky, Intense yet Smooth, Elegant. I will never forget that moment.
We looked through the menu as Jaime told us their specials, answering any and all questions about the menu. I knew going in that I wanted the Picanha Steak, as a friend on Twitter highly recommended it:
— Angelina M. Lopez (@AngelinaMLo) October 11, 2014
As Jaime took care of our drink orders, we went through the menu and decided what we wanted to eat.
We started out with the Veal Lengua, based on Jaime’s recommendation. We were a little skittish about eating veal tongue, but Jaime said it was delicious, and they slow cook it for a long time, so it practically melts in your mouth. He was right. We happily ate it without hesitation, even using bread to soak up the remaining sauce.
Moving on, we also tried two varieties of house-made Chorizo: Chorizo Gaucho, which was made with Beef & Pork Sausage and Salsa Criolla; and Chorizo Con Queso, which was a Provoleta-Stuffed Pork Sausage with Chimichurri. Both tasted extremely fresh and full of flavor.
For our main course, we ordered the aforementioned Picanha Steak, which is a 10 oz Snake River Wagyu Rump, as well as the Pamplona de Puerco, a Stuffed Heritage Breed Pork Tenderloin from Iowa. For sides, we ordered the Crema Potatoes, as well as Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate Seeds and Roasted Acorn Squash with Sage, both Specials.
Angelina was right about the Picanha: It was like Meat Butter, especially as they baste it with their house-made Malbec Butter. It practically melted in my mouth. Sublime. I wanted more.
The Pamplona de Puerco was like the best Pork I’ve had in Iowa: Juicy, tender, delicious. We looked at each other and wondered how they got this out of Iowa, as we’re fully convinced Iowans keep the good stuff for themselves.
The portions were perfect for ordering a couple main courses, adding some sides and sharing. We enjoyed every bite.
For dessert we had the Don Pedro: Honey Canela Ice Cream, Alfajores, Brown Butter Walnuts, and Alcyone Tannat – which they topped with wine. A perfect end to a fantastic meal.
Jose Garces has hit it out of the park with Rural Society. We can’t wait for a return visit.Rural Society
1177 15th St NW (in the Loews Madison Hotel)
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 587-2629 | Website | Facebook | @RuralSocietyDC