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.