Dining at Rare on Las Olas is an extravaganza

Dining at Rare makes us forget we’re living in lean times. The new Las Olas meat emporium is all about excess: big portions, big scene, big prices.

The owners of the restaurant, which opened Nov. 13, also have big ambitions. The CentraArchy group, which includes New York Prime (Boca Raton, Atlanta) and Gulfstream Cafe (Jupiter), has signed a 10-year lease on the spot previously occupied by Bova Prime.

The Rare team didn’t make major changes to the elegant interior with its black-and-white decor, dramatic 10-foot crystal chandelier and 20-foot ceilings. The loft is now a lounge with sleek couches, low tables, a bar and DJ booth. It’s giving nearby YOLO and its music lounge Vibe some competition as a see-and-be-seen destination.

We’ve gotten so used to reduced prices and deals that it’s startling to dine in a place where the cheapest entree is a $29 chicken (no sides) and the tab can easily top $100 per person. But there are no signs of empty wallets here.

On a Friday night, the 125-seat dining room was packed, and a bunch of swells huddled around the illuminated bar with its scantily clad female bartenders. (Lots of eye candy in the crowd, too.)

We had to shout over loud recorded music to have a conversation. You might think we’re stodgy, but even the 20-somethings at our table thought it was too noisy. On a slow Sunday night, we enjoyed a quiet meal with softer music and more attentive service.

Starters and sides (everything’s a la carte) are mostly steak house standards. Hits include delicious puff potatoes, a refreshing salad of ruby red beefsteak tomatoes and mozzarella and a moist, minimalist lump crab cake with a crisp exterior. If only it had been a little larger for $16.

USDA Prime steaks are prepared Pittsburgh-style, with a crisp, charred exterior and red center. The smallest is an 8-ounce, center-cut filet and the largest a whopping 30-ounce strip for two.

On our Friday night visit, our 18-ounce, bone-in Kansas City strip and 22-ounce rib-eye were overly charred, but on Sunday our 12-ounce New York strip was expertly seared and buttery tender, the pink interior bursting with juices.

Rare offers a few seafood dishes, veal, pork, lamb chops and chicken. One of our favorites is chef Mark Keiser’s lobster Wellington, with big, succulent pieces of Maine lobster and spinach in puff pastry, encircled by a Boursin cream sauce.

Also praise-worthy was that roasted chicken, a whole, 2 1/2-pound bird with wonderfully crisp skin. And Rare does a good job with sides like asparagus in Hollandaise sauce and its signature loaded, smashed potato, a twice-baked spud made with sour cream, bacon, butter, chives and American cheese.

The extensive, expensive international wine list is the size of a book.

The over-the-top desserts include a gigantic slice of whipped cream-covered carrot cake ($18) that would easily satisfy four or more. We also liked the cinnamony apple turnover with ice cream and whipped cream.

It’s good to see such a shiny bauble in one of the boulevard’s prime locations, though for people on budgets, Rare will be, well, a rare treat.


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