2/15/2013 09:12:00 AM

DC’s Medium Rare Steakhouse Coming to Philly

You’re in the middle of a great conversation when a waiter appears for the second time, but no one has even glanced at the menu. Or maybe you’re about to close a business deal, but you have to put everything on pause to decide what to order for lunch. Soon you’ll be able to avoid all that entirely yet still enjoy a high-end restaurant meal, thanks to Medium Rare, coming to the 1600 block of Sansom Street this fall.

Medium Rare, a steakhouse that first opened in DC two years ago, serves just one thing, and serves it with pride. For a set price of $19.50, diners get juicy steak with a special sauce, hand-cut fries, mixed green salad and rustic bread. As much of it as you want - seconds of steak and fries are offered tableside, so your meat won’t get cold before you have a chance to get halfway through. It’s the only thing on the menu (plus an unlisted portobello mushroom option for vegetarians), so there’s never a worry about what to order.

Partners Mark Bucher and Tom Gregg ran into the concept in Europe and realized it was missing on American shores. They want guests to forget everything they know about American steakhouses - there is no awkward upselling to $50 cuts of beef and no pushing of overpriced wine, either. The drink menu is nearly as simple as the food: four craft beers, a couple of reds and whites that complement steak, and just a handful of liquors.

It’s been a very successful formula in DC, and the Philly location will stick to the tried and true. Bucher grew up in this area, and when he was headed to Atlantic City to follow up on a casino offer to open Medium Rare at the shore, he took his partners on a detour here for a cheesesteak. “I never made it to AC,” he says, “The dining scene in Philly has just exploded, and we decided the city was the right place to open, instead of a casino.”

The restaurant will go into the new development coming to Center City, located right across the street from Federal Donuts. Speaking of, Bucher and Gregg point out there are plenty of existing operations serving just one specialty (think fried chicken, donuts, dumplings, ramen, hot dogs, etc.), but none that do steak. “We’re the absolute opposite of the Cheesecake Factory, with its booklet of never-ending choices.”

Since a Cheesecake Factory has now been approved for the space at 15th and Walnut, we’ll get a chance to compare the two firsthand. (It’s not scheduled to open until fall 2014, according to The Insider, which means it will launch a whole year later.) Let’s let the tourists and conventioneers fill up the Factory, so we can keep Medium Rare for ourselves.

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