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Rare Society

An unpretentious steakhouse

Rare Society hits that sweet spot in steakhouses: casual and comfortable with knowledgeable servers; food and beverage that rival the big boy steakhouses. They opened February 8, 2023, in Mill Creek.

Mill Creek is their fourth location and second outside San Diego, with a fifth location coming in May 2023 to San Clemente, California. Chef/Owner Brad Wise is unpretentious himself, while successfully executing five restaurant concepts (click here to see Brad's background). Rare Society came into being after a rare failure. He started a bar called Hundred Proof, thinking, "Hey, bars are easy, I wouldn't even need to be onsite all the time." So not true. "I had no business doing a bar," he says now. "After a year, we weren't making money. My other concepts were nearby and all doing well. I knew it wasn't the neighborhood. I thought we should close it down. We started talking steakhouses and how in San Diego, they were either high end like Del Frisco's and Morton's, or old divey places, or Outback. To me, there was a massive gap in the middle. My wife is from Santa Maria, California, and their steakhouses are unique because they cook over an open flame and have a casual atmosphere." Rare Society was born, cooking premium product over American Red Oak which comes from the Central Coast of California, is slow burning, and imparts a sweeter, more natural wood flavor to meats. The atmosphere is vintage Las Vegas steakhouse.

While a steakhouse menu doesn't differ wildly throughout the year, there are differences at the Mill Creek location. "Our seafood is hyper local. The raw bar can be seen from the tables and includes oysters, chilled lobster, tartare, ceviche, crab, shrimp. At other locations we bring oysters in from Massachusetts because they're so fresh. We may not bring them here, there are many local options. Beef is coming from local farms." There are house made Parker House rolls with truffle butter, oyster Rockefeller, Caesar salad, lamb lollipops, seafood towers. "One of our unique starters is 24-hour sous vide bacon that's grilled and brushed with gochujang glaze. It's 6-7 ounces, perfect for sharing. We've done it so many times, it has become a signature item."

Another signature experience is the shared steak boards. "This came out of our wanting to elevate the dining experience in some way. At most steakhouses, you might start with a salad or an appetizer, then move on to a steak. What if you'd like to try several things and share them? All our concepts have a shareable component. We have a Lazy Susan custom built for Rare Society that fits the table, so it's not too big. We didn't want it to tip when people were eating, so each person gets tongs. The board sits on a base so it's elevated. There's The Associate and The Executive, amounts based on table size. We put chef's cuts of the night on so people can try different cuts of meat. We use wagyu tri-tip or shoulder cut, so the wagyu is our entry point. Then there might be New York, filet, ribeye. Our beef is dry aged 35-40 days at the restaurant. You can eat these side-by-side and see the difference. It's fun and interactive. And we can add to it - maybe some bacon or lamb lollipops. Whatever the table wants. What's cool about Rare Society are these differences; it's an American classic that's been taken for granted. We've reinvented it and made it fun again. There's hip music that is curated just for us that takes the evening from start to finish. Lighting is reminiscent of Vegas."

There are 13-foot wine cabinets near the entry along with temperature-controlled units near the open kitchen. While they don't have a private dining room, they will do full buy-outs for private parties. A good-sized covered patio is coming this summer. The bar will most likely be a hot spot; it feels tucked away with tall tables, and faux tin ceiling tiles.

Expect warmth and knowledge from the staff who go through a two-week training period. "We've always had a rigorous training program, but upon opening Santa Barbara we realized we needed to codify it and implement it in a different way. So we spent the next six months developing a school-based training system, with periods and breakouts and assembly-style learning sessions. This allowed us to impart our values when it comes to service for a market where we had never been before. I took a public speaking course once where they taught you to tell people what you were going to tell them, then tell them, then tell them what you told them. That's what we do. We explain what they'll learn, then they go through the training periods, then we go over what they learned. They meet our farmers and seafood purveyors. They eat the food 12 times before their training is done so they know the menu. I place a lot of emphasis on value. If someone pays for our product, they should get the service that equals that. Same thing in the kitchen. It's tough, long hours, and chaotic when we're busy. But if you just throw food on plates, what's the purpose? It should be perfect. That's one reason I like open kitchens. Cooks can look out and see the enjoyment people get from their food."

Photo credit: Haley Hill

Why bring Rare Society to the Northwest? "I've always wanted to come here. I knew the developer of this area, and I like to be first in a market; it takes time for others to catch up. We've put a lot of effort into this and we're unique. I think we'll draw people with our look, style, and approach. I'm very excited to be here."

Connie Adams/March 2023

Rare Society

13223 39th Ave SE
Mill Creek, WA 98012

Solana Beach and University Heights
San Diego, CA

Santa Barbara, CA

San Clemente, CA (coming May 2023)

Rare Society

Trust Restaurant
3752 Park Blvd
Hillcrest, CA 98102

Fort Oak
1011 Fort Stockton Dr
Mission Hills, CA 92103

4033 Goldfinch St
Mission Hills, CA 92103

The Wise Ox
La Costa and North Park, San Diego                                             Snickers Tart, by Hayley Hill

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