Rare Steakhouse to serve up nostalgia on the Square starting May 31

2014-04-23T15:30:00Z Rare Steakhouse to serve up nostalgia on the Square starting May 31LINDSAY CHRISTIANS | The Capital Times | lchristians@madison.com | @LindsayC77 madison.com

Flaming bananas foster and Caesar salad, both prepared tableside, are on the menu for a new steakhouse slated to open at the end of May on the Capitol Square. 

Rare Steakhouse is the latest venture from Noble Chef Hospitality Group, the team that owns The Capital Tap Haus, Buck & Badger Northwoods Lodge and Ivory Room Piano Bar.

It will take up the first floor of 14 W. Mifflin St., the former location of Mirch Masala and Tabby & Jack's pet supply store. 

"Everything in the restaurant will sort of have a nostalgic feel to it," said Bill Ford, director of operations for Noble Chef and Rare's general manager. "There's a lot of mahogany going in ... three miles of mahogany trim."

Other decor elements will include "antique" books, chandeliers, wall sconces and a custom bar. There will be a 2,000-bottle climate-controlled wine cellar, being made in Chicago, that will be visible from the dining room, a 12-seat chef's table ("Table One") and two private dining rooms, both wired for teleconferencing.

"I used to be the general manager at Steenbock’s on Orchard," Ford said. "On campus, we did a lot of business meetings between the university and private industry. 

"It is in demand in the area because of how much business and research we have here in Madison ... to pair a great meal, an intimate, exclusive dining experience, with a business meeting across town, across the state or the world, that's something people do look for in a meeting space."

Chef Joe Learned, whose background includes stints at Ocean Grill, Johnny Delmonico's and Quivey's Grove, said the focus at Rare will be dry-aged beef from Allen Brothers in Chicago. Learned also teaches culinary arts at Blackhawk Technical College in Janesville. 

"We are going to have a separate bar menu so there will be slightly smaller appetizers," Learned said. The menu will include "fresh seafood, to pair with our steaks, and some vegetarian options, so we can appeal to the masses."

Jack Sosnowski, president and CEO of Noble Chef Hospitality, said he'll bring in consultant Bob Brown to train the servers at Rare. 

The interior of the restaurant will seat 220, with 20 bar seats at a horseshoe bar and 55 total in the bar area. Starting a few weeks after the restaurant opens, Rare will open a patio that can seat 50 to 60 people outside on the Square.

The goal, pending city approval, is to have an outdoor lounge area, "unique to the Square," Ford said.

"It’s a big project, but I think Madison deserves something a step above, and we're going to deliver on that," Ford said. "The idea is that we’re going to offer all this with a warm and friendly feel."

Hours are expected to be 5-10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 5-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with a "business" lunch Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. There are no plans yet to serve weekend brunch.

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(15) Comments

  1. scudman77
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    scudman77 - July 11, 2014 8:35 pm
    Yuck.. I had the bone in ribeye for $46. It was cooked ok, but very bland, and pretty chewy. My wife tried it and said it was the worst steak she ever had. I agree. We complained, they gave us a small gift certificate to be used when/if we ever come back. Not likely!
  2. Captain0bvious
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    Captain0bvious - July 10, 2014 3:19 pm
    I was fortunate enough to be invited to Rare's opening week. All I will say, is that every other steak I eat for the rest of my life, will be compared to the dry-aged Jack’s Kansas City Strip.

    I don't have the vocabulary to describe it, really. But it was a revelatory experience....I did not know that food could be that tasty.
  3. Permanent Tailgater
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    Permanent Tailgater - April 26, 2014 10:42 am
    Madison, Wisconsin and the concept of "excellent service" in a 'nostalgic" setting will be a welcome edition to the Capitol Square.

    This organization is improving its three other locations while incorporating a fourth concept into the Madison dining scene that will focus on a standard of excellence in service and a quality of food that Madison clearly lacks in a steakhouse.

    The current "go to" steakhouses are substandard at best and a tad stale.

    Bravo Rare!



  4. duder
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    duder - April 25, 2014 9:19 am
    Raising the bar? You're kidding, right? Have you actually been in their other restaurants?

    They don't seem to be targeting a higher tier place than the 3 steak places all within a half mile of this place. They'll be targeting a lower price point, and it might be successful. Time will tell.
  5. duder
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    duder - April 25, 2014 9:13 am
    Uh, it's right next to Coopers. ?
  6. Noontime
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    Noontime - April 25, 2014 2:15 am
    Noble Chef is an unstoppable force in Madison. Providing culture, class, and comfort. Not to mention all the jobs that are created. I for one am excited to see (and taste) Madison's future in dining and entertainment.
  7. themaverick
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    themaverick - April 24, 2014 5:01 pm
    There's something to be said about Tornado and Smokey's because they've been around a while, but at one point they were new restaurants as well. I'm sure there were people trashing them at that time as well, which is too bad. I'm excited to see what this place brings to the square and I think it will be raising the bar for steak houses in Madison.
  8. charlie16
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    charlie16 - April 24, 2014 1:41 pm
    Despite the mentions of other steakhouses in the area, I think this sounds like a very unique addition to the square! I've sat at chef's tables at a few places in New York and am excited to see one in Madison. It's such a fun experience. I have been to their other restaurants and have enjoyed my time and felt at home at all of them, so I'm anxious to see how they do with a fine dining concept. Also, if it goes through, an outdoor lounge area is long overdue for the area!
  9. duder
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    duder - April 24, 2014 9:42 am
    Whut? I mean, you're obviously a troll, but at least put a bit of effort into not appearing as a troll. You'd have more sway.

    Smokey's
    Tornado
    Johnny D's
    Chophouse

    Are all decent steak places on the isthmus. Plus, L'Etoile serves an amazing steak as well.

    Given the other mediocre places this firm owns, I suspect they're not targeting the higher end, which is (seemingly) already covered. There might indeed be a niche for a lower priced steak place in this location.
  10. ssmith
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    ssmith - April 24, 2014 6:25 am
    this town is in need of a good steakhouse....currently nonexistent. looking forward to this
  11. midwestguy
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    midwestguy - April 24, 2014 2:31 am
    Well, now the lobbyists have someplace closer than the Tornado to eat cow while squeezing Wisconsin's middle class into non viability.
  12. duder
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    duder - April 24, 2014 12:35 am
    What's the over/under on this going out of business? I say it doesn't make it to 2016 without at least a name change.

    Anyone remember all the money poured into that space for the middle eastern bar/restaurant? That was crazy.
  13. River
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    River - April 23, 2014 9:26 pm
    @ssmith. Hope so. Maybe the fourth time's the charm?
  14. ssmith
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    ssmith - April 23, 2014 9:09 pm
    it's going to be awesome if it's anything like their first three places----top notch restaurants.
  15. River
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    River - April 23, 2014 8:58 pm
    Hope this is better than the aforementioned and quite mediocre restaurants.
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