Sam & Harry’s
1200 19th St. N.W.
(between M and N streets)
Steak is what D.C. is all about. It shows your killer instinct and political prowess in a cage of hungry party animals. It is the dinner of choice for Washington power brokers. Political players (and those in training) go to Sam & Harry’s not only to impress, but also to get the highest-quality steak in town.
Located on a strip of great restaurants on 19th Street – Fin, the Melting Pot and the Palm – Sam & Harry’s has some major competition. However, Sam & Harry’s sits quietly back from the sidewalk, attracting patrons with its subtle elegance.
The restaurant has a quiet ambience fueled by the soft hue of candles on each table, white linens and glass doors separating the dining area from the rest of the restaurant. You will feel as thought you’re in your own private dining room, as each table seems miles away from the others. This is what separates Sam & Harry’s from competitors such as the Palm or Smith & Wollensky. The dining room exhibits a level of refinement that is missing in the loud dining room at the Palm, located just across the street.
While the atmosphere is subdued, the food is not. To begin your meal, there is a nice assortment of appetizers, especially seafood starters that will fulfill your hunger for surf while leaving room for the turf. The crab cakes appetizer is satisfying in both portion and taste, and as a condiment, the lemon tartar sauce adds a nice punch to the tame flavor of the crabmeat.
There is a large selection of dinner entrees – from garlic-roasted chicken to grilled salmon or whole Maine lobster, but the real reason to come is the steak. For the daintier meat-eaters, the center cut filet mignon is a great choice. Whether you order the 10-ounce or 14-ounce cut, the filet mignon is still a large piece of meat, but it’s almost half the size of other steaks on the menu. The New York Strip is a good choice as well, at $28.95 for the 12-ounce steak and $34.95 for the 18-ounce steak. But if you are willing to spend $35 anyway, order one of the reserve steaks, a specialty at Sam & Harry’s.
Each of the reserve steaks costs $35.95 and is center cut for the best quality. The steaks are aged and served on the bone, so no flavor is lost. From the signature bone-in strip steak to the Porterhouse, these extremely thick cuts of meat will not disappoint.
If you are in the mood for surf and turf, add a one-pound lobster to your reserve steak entree for $20. Although this doesn’t give you a huge amount of lobster meat, it serves as a satisfying accompaniment to the steak.
But there are other side dishes, too. The standard sides to steak include mashed potatoes, mushroom caps and creamed spinach, but there are some twists on the menu. The fried onion crisps are good but not as satisfying as the mashed potatoes. At $4.95 to $5.95 for each side, get two if you aren’t springing for the lobster.
For dessert, the best bets are chocolate pecan pie or the Carnegie Deli cheesecake. Your bill will come to about $50 or $60 and probably more if you take advantage of the abundant wine list. But this is a deal considering the many awards Sam & Harry’s has won. The restaurant is a Distinguished Restaurant of North America award winner. It has also received awards from Washingtonian Magazine as one of Washington’s 100 best restaurants and is one of Gourmet magazine’s Top Tables. Call for a reservation, dress to impress and find a political player (optional) with whom to enjoy one of the best steak dinners in Washington.