Smell smoke?

It’s another restaurant cooking meat over burning wood in Washington, this time from celebrity chef Jose Garces of Philadelphia (but seemingly everywhere).

The summer rollout of Rural Society downtown is noteworthy on several fronts. The new dining room in the Loews Madison Hotel adds to the scene a refined taste of Argentina and a serious young chef, Louis Goral. Garces thought enough of Goral to promote him from executive sous chef at Mercat a la Planxa in Chicago, one of the Iron Chef’s 14 restaurants, to the No. 1 kitchen slot at Rural Society. Just as relevant, the restaurant’s debut turns an address better known for its beds than its menus into an appealing double feature.

The designers have done a fine job of creating different experiences within the expanse, which gets its name from the group that runs the annual agricultural and livestock show in Buenos Aires. Past the busy bar is a dining room, handsome in beefy browns and pale blues, next to an exhibition grill, the heart of the place. The back of Rural Society, with its thin black bars and ceiling of ropes, would be Rated R if it were a movie.

Opposite the grill space are stacks of oak and hickory and four niches, each with a table for four, that call to diners looking for privacy but not total anonymity. The small rooms bridge Argentine cowboy culture with the hotel’s past by dressing each with old cattle rating slips as well as a vintage minibar that would look at home at Sterling Cooper, the fictional ad agency from “Mad Men.” (The hotel likes to think it introduced the concept of help-yourself spirits to guest rooms in the 1960s.)

Local sourcing takes on new meaning at Rural Society, which can brag about owning one of the hottest kitchen toys on the market: a $20,000 artisanal grill created by the D.C.-based Grillworks.

Rural Society buys good beef, then doesn’t do too much to it before adding the meat to the flames; salt, pepper and a brush of butter stained with malbec are all that season the lean, grass-fed rib-eye and tenderloin from Uruguay. Same for the domestic lomo, prime strip loin that gets its mineral tang from dry-aging. “We let the grill speak for itself,” Goral says. Bone-in short ribs, cut thinly in the Korean style, make for extremely satisfying eating, too. “Use your knife to get the fat” clinging to the bones, a server says when she notices unattended richness remaining on my plate. The cooks aren’t the only minders here.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Servers swoop in with a bountiful bread basket and a tray of condiments, including grass-green chimichurri and Christmas-red salsa criolla, that add a nice nip to whatever they touch. The purple spead? That’s the malbec butter.

Carbs are your friends at Rural Society. A meal could be made of the glossy empanadas, filled to please both vegetarians (Swiss chard, cheese) and carnivores (beef belly, smoked chili). Given the heft of so much of the food, however, you might want to ease in with something light, maybe sheer slices of braised octopus scattered with tiny chips made from fingerling potatoes steeped in a reduction of red wine (malbec, naturally).

A category called Asado brings together sausages, some of which the restaurant makes itself (blood sausage sweetened with raisins), others of which are made to the restaurant’s specifications by local vendors (rugged chorizo, which can be enjoyed at lunch as a hearty sandwich flanked by excellent, see-through potato chips). The lone miss of this collection: lamb sweetbreads, twisted into what look like braids, oversalted and charred beyond recognition.

Meat isn’t the only ingredient that benefits from the heat of the grill. Part of the reason to open a meal with roasted peppers and anchovies is for the accompanying eggplant, cooked in embers and whipped into a tangy mousse with goat cheese. The combination is as simple and luscious an opening act as I’ve encountered this season.

Sections devoted to pasta and fugazza (derived from the word “foccacia”) call attention to Italy’s influence on Argentina — and create stiff competition for the signature steaks.

Saffron taglierini is a golden backdrop for shrimp, cockles and tomato confit, a combination enriched with a butter sauce fueled with bottarga (dried fish roe) and the juice of grilled lemons. The kitchen also wraps lump crab in canneloni, black in color and briny in taste, thanks to squid ink in the pasta.

Fugazza is a style of pizza — high like deep-dish and spongy like foccacia — that’s easy to appreciate. Liberal amounts of Spanish olive oil in the slab make a rich cushion for soft onions, mozzarella and fresh oregano, the most traditional of the four toppings. I wouldn’t dream of coming here and not ordering fugazza. I mean, fuggedaboutit.

I’ve never met a side dish I haven’t wanted to try again. Potatoes dominate the choices. “Crema” lives up to its name, with mozzarella curd (and garlic) whipped into the tubers, while the roesti, streaked with herbs and garnished with caviar, is as noble a potato cake as I’ve ever enjoyed in Switzerland. For diversity, consider a plate of beets that, like those roasted red peppers, pick up flavor from the embers in which they’re warmed and taste brighter for their vinaigrette of orange and coriander.

Rural Society was preceded in the Madison Hotel by two short-lived and unsatisfying restaurants, Federalist and Palette. Recipes from a brand name who doesn’t live here are good for 15 or so minutes of fame, but what’s going to sustain the attention of diners over time is consistently great food. Chef Goral, keep it up.

2.5 stars

Location: 1177 15th St. NW.
202-587-2629. dc.ruralsocietyrestaurant.com.

Open: Lunch 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday; dinner 5
to 10:30 p.m. daily; brunch 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Prices: Dinner appetizers $9
to $18, main courses $15 to $48.

Sound check: 70 decibels/Conversation is easy.

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THE SCOOP

Location: 1177 15th St. NW.
202-587-2629. dc.ruralsocietyrestaurant.com.

Open: Lunch 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday; dinner 5
to 10:30 p.m. daily; brunch 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Prices: Dinner appetizers $9
to $18, main courses $15 to $48.

Sound check: 70 decibels/Conversation is easy.