Rare Pours

Rose, sparkling wine and Fitou at Medium Rare in Cleveland Park

The menu at Cleveland Park's new Medium Rare is concise: warm bread, house salad in mustard vinaigrette, then 10 ounces of sirloin, cooked to your specifications and accompanied by fries.

But the wine menu can send the prix fixe meal ($19.50) in several unpredictable directions.

Brian Zipin, who worked as manager and wine director of Central Michel Richard, used his deep connections in the wine world to procure unique, often exclusive wines for Medium Rare. The 11 bottles on the tight list are mostly bargains, too, with the majority priced between $30 and $45.

Nine well-chosen wines are available by the glass. Fitou ($9)–a lesser-known blend from the southern Languedoc–is one of Zipin's exclusives. Earthy and smoky, the wine teases out the juiciness of the steak against its creamy secret sauce.

Instead of turning to California for a big Cabernet, Zipin opted for Charles Smith's lush bottling from Washington State ($12). France's classic steak pairing, Beaujolais-Villages ($11), will join the menu this week.

The selection of whites is equally thoughtful: Crisp, sparkling Chenin Blanc ($11) is celebratory, particularly with the rainbow sprinkles and swirling whipped cream of the hot fudge sundae ($8).

As the weather warms, the restaurant will open its large, Paris-inspired patio, where Zipin envisions patrons savoring his smooth, dry Mas Carlot rosé ($7) with a side of fries.

Medium Rare, 3500 Connecticut Ave. NW (at Ordway St.); 202-237-1432 or mediumrarerestaurant.com