Ruth’s Chris (NYC)

Fellow meat enthusiasts:

I’ve updated this review here in the top portion of the entry. I’ve indicated below where my older reviews begin, for ease of reading. I’ve also indicated below which scores have changed, by how much, and why.

This recent update is based on my 3rd visit to the restaurant for steak (I’ve been to the bar a few times other than for meals). I was fortunate to be invited to lunch by Ruth’s Chris’ marketing and public relations execs. They brought me in to get to know me, know more about my blog, my plans, etc., and to talk about and try some new menu items they are rolling out, or have already rolled out.

DSC08345

A testament to the customer service here, and the type of people who work with and for Ruth’s Chris, I felt comfortable and at home with these folks. We DO share a profound love for meat, after all…

We started off with some really great appetizers. First was this New Orleans style BBQ shrimp dish. Laz, a really friendly and knowledgeable waiter who’s been with Ruth’s for 15+ years, explained how the sauce was made and how it brings in the traditional Louisiana flavors you might associate with a roux or something similar. Typically when I see something labeled “BBQ shrimp” on a menu, I shy away from it. For some reason I think “BBQ sauce,” and I’m generally not a fan of BBQ sauce (or buffalo sauce) with my seafood. But as soon as I heard Laz explain that it was NOLA inspired, I was intrigued.

DSC08329

My curiosity paid off. The sauce was buttery and had great soulful depth to it. You could taste the shrimp essence throughout, as if they simmered the shells for hours to make a perfect reduction.

Next was this spicy lobster app. It was lightly battered with a crispy, golden coating that grabbed hold of the lightly spicy, Asian-flavored and southern/vinegar-tinged sauce.

DSC08327

The meat was cooked perfectly. So tender and flavorful. The briny yet sweet pickled onion, cucumber and cilantro plated in the center paired perfectly with the buttery lobster meat. The crunch from the breading gave a nod to the classic Louisiana specialty known as the “Po’ Boy,” and the asian flavors were a tribute to the vibrant Vietnamese community in NOLA (just go visit Cafe DuMonde, or a shrimp boat operator on the mighty Mississippi – it’s almost all Vietnamese people working there). I loved it.

Why all the NOLA flavors? If you didn’t know, Ruth’s Chris began there, when a woman named Ruth struck out on her own to start this incredible brand of fine dining establishments. You can watch/read all about the rich history of Ruth’s Chris on their website. Ruth was a woman of many important “firsts,” especially in the restaurant biz, breaking down all sorts of social barriers, whether it was race, gender or just good old fashioned entrepreneurship and culinary ingenuity. Fascinating stuff, actually.

Okay so now on to the meat! One of the most important additions to the Ruth’s Chris menu (just a month ago) is this psychotic looking 40oz tomahawk rib eye.

DSC08338

DSC08337

I mean, holy shit… come on…

DSC08342

DSC08339

All the meat here is prime caliber, and wet aged for at least 28 days. At $115 this tomahawk may seem expensive, but it will definitely fill up two guests, especially if indulging in all the other great offerings when it comes to apps, sides and desserts.

The tomahawk was a clear 10/10 for flavor. It was cooked perfectly to medium rare. The fat content was all edible, melty and savory. Simply seasoned with salt and pepper, and cooked with butter, this steak truly hits the high mark for me, and is possibly one of my favorite steaks in town.

The chef even carved it up and portioned it out specifically for five diners right there at the table. I’ve posted a quick video of that below. If you pay attention to the audio, you can hear him explaining how the eye portion of the steak differs from the cap, or deckle. That kind of interactive and knowledge-imparting commentary is what I want to see more of in my dining experiences in general. If I were the owner of a dining establishment, I would want my diners to know as much about what they’re eating as possible, to immerse them in the “insider knowledge” about the food they’re eating. At least that’s what I like, anyway, as someone who is obsessed with food. Okay so here is that video:

As you can see from the close up here: perfectly pink all the way through. That’s the fat cap on the left, and the eye on the right. I absolutely destroyed the cap in about 20 seconds.

DSC08351

We also shared a porterhouse, which, as you should by now be aware, is a NY strip on one side of the bone, and a filet on the other.

DSC08336

In these pics, the filet is on top, and the strip is on bottom.

DSC08347

I’d say the strip side came in at about a 7/10. The center of the meat tasted slightly under seasoned. It was thick, however, and the crust had good seasoning on it. My trick to getting even seasoning flavors in each bite is to cut the meat both latitudinally and longitudinally, if that makes sense. Essentially that means each slice is then cut so that the steak goes from, say, 2in thick to 1in thick, with seasoning on one end, and pink center on the other. That tends to maximize the surface area of the seasoning, especially if you can wipe up a little bit of juice, butter and other goodies from the plate before each bite.

DSC08348

The filet side was an 8/10. Everything about it was exactly the way it should be. If you’re a filet person, you’ll probably want to go with their signature “bone-in filet” though. It’s a much more dedicated cut for filet lovers. In the shots immediately above and below, you’ll see the strip portion on the left, and the filet portion on the right. Both perfectly cooked to medium rare.

DSC08349

So taking all things together, I’d say the flavor averages to about a 9/10. That’s an improvement on the score from the previous visits. This is a great sign. Each visit is a better experience than the last. That means I will be back again and again. For the choice of cuts and quality category, my score moves from an 8 to a 10, given the special new additions to the menu in the meat department. In addition to those points, a tacked a point back onto the plating section. As it turns out, this visit produced no problems in the sizzling plate department. In fact, the sizzle was subtle and enjoyable, as opposed to blazing hot, loud and obnoxious. Plates come out at 500 degrees, and they cool down relatively quickly, so there isn’t much of a danger in the overcooking department. The sizzle is done correctly here. By the way, here’s a nice shot of a plate with all the cuts on it:

DSC08352

So in addition to menu additions, this NYC location of Ruth’s Chris is going to get some upgrades in decor. There will be a stainless steel wine display case to replace the wood. The bar will get some new finishes, some tile work and a new backdrop. Last, the dining rooms will see new wallpaper, updated finishes and even a grand fireplace. I’ve tossed another point to the bar category here, because the place truly is an awesome spot to hang out. It’s big and beautiful.

The bar is also street side, and lively most nights of the week. I’ve been in for drinks a few times since my previous reviews, and I always love the atmosphere. A quick note about the bar at other Ruths’ Chris locations: they’re running a Happy Hour deal where everything is $8. That’s a steal! I don’t think it is available yet for the Manhattan location, but if you’re in Jersey, the Weehawken location will have it, and they just expanded their bar area from 9 seats to something like 62!

On the side we had some brussels sprouts with bacon, mushrooms, and garlic mashed potatoes. I found that mixing the potatoes with the mushrooms was the best way to go at those bad boys. Its almost like mashed potatoes with gravy when you eat it like that.

DSC08332

DSC08333

DSC08334

For dessert we had two items. First was another new menu feature: white chocolate bread pudding served with spirit reduction sauce.

DSC08356

You can choose from four sauces: Grand Mariner (citrus/orange), Chambord (berry), Kahlua (coffee) or Amaretto (nutty). The original bread pudding came with a pecan sauce and lacked the white chocolate. I’m generally not a white chocolate fan, so I think I might like the original better than I liked this dish. However the sauces were really great. I kept going back for the Chambord and Kahlua.

This next dessert is actually a side item, but since it has a sweet flavor profile, it goes really well with desert: sweet potato casserole. The secret to this is to order it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. That is absolutely KEY. Don’t question me on this.

DSC08353

I first have a confession to make: I am NOT a fan of sweet potato. But I am now a converted man. Most places try to pretend that sweet potato is some kind of savory item. They make sweet potato french fries, trying to pawn it off as some kind of healthier alternative. Or they serve it like a baked potato. Fuck that. I love the fact that Ruth’s Chris embraces the sweetness and goes full bore into what this tuber actually is.

While this is listed as a side item to have along with your steak – like you would have, say, a sweet potato pie on Thanksgiving – I firmly believe that people who dine here should consider ordering this for dessert. I highly recommend… No… I DEMAND that you order this in lieu of your regularly scheduled programming of creme brûlée, pecan pie, tiramisu, key lime pie or whatever other boring-ass nonsense you were thinking about ordering. I’ve gone on tirades, and so has my wife, about being sick and tired of restaurants throwing in the towel when it comes to dessert. It’s like they just fucking give up! But with this sweet potato casserole + ice cream, dessert is exciting again. It has a sweet pecan crust that’s almost like a graham cracker + brittle mixture. That’s the only spot that contains any savory element. The sweet potato itself is soft like a mashed potato, with no grainy texture. It’s creamy and velvety, without being overly sweet. The ice cream on top of this hot dish turns it into a riff on pie a la mode. Delicious. Needless to say, I gave another point here.

Not only am I excited to go back and get this again, but I am going to try making it at home, because Ruth’s Chris actually provides the recipe for this dish online (along with the original bread pudding, the BBQ shrimp and crab cakes). Pretty cool.

While ambiance and service are already at top marks here, one thing I’d like to mention was this new thing they’re doing where you get to choose what knife you want to use for eating your steaks:

DSC08330

Essentially you can choose a super sharp French knife, or the larger/thicker serrated knife that we New Yorkers are accustomed to seeing here in our fine steak joints. I tested both of them out, and the small straight edge works much more efficiently. Since it is super sharp, it works like a filet knife. It requires fewer strokes to separate the flesh, which means less work, less time cutting and a much faster delivery into your mouth. HA!

DSC08331

So we have a total of 6 points of improvement, taking us from 87 to 93. I’ll be back in here very soon, because my wife absolutely must try some of these things. My guess is that this location will climb yet again on that visit.

Thanks again to John, Amy, Cory and Mikella for this great experience, and for the confidence you place in me as a steak authority. I look forward to future visits: I’ll be eating through my leftovers very soon, and will need a Ruth’s Chris fix, posthaste!

DSC08358

To my loyal meat minions, if you’re still interested, you can see how my opinion of Ruth’s Chris evolved by reading on below, to the older review(s) which I’ve preserved here for your edification:

RUTH’S CHRIS NEW SCORE: 93

OLDER REVIEWS BELOW (from two separate, earlier visits)

Ruth’s Chris (NYC) overall score: 87

Ruth’s Chris is a well known steakhouse chain across the US. I took my buddy there for lunch because he scored me an interview which eventually landed me a new jobby job. That said, this review should be taken with a grain of salt since we dined from a low cost prix fix menu. REVISED: On the second trip here, things have improved. See text in italics for new additions to the review. First, some commentary about this place being a chain: Many people would frown upon the chain aspect. But I disagree. A chain of this caliber allows the large company making big money to spend a little more and go that extra mile. With places like Outback or Fridays, they often cut corners to keep more profit… but a place like Ruth’s Chris is putting the extra $ into their decor (it looks nice regardless of whether it is “authentic” or not), into the quality of the product, and into the service. I have to say – I like this place. And if the food is good that is all that should matter, right? Right.
Flavor: 8
The steaks were good: tender, well seasoned, and a slight gamey flavor that was JUST the right amount – enough to remind you that you were eating a quality piece of meat, but not too much to the point where you feel like you are licking the peri-anal area of a barnyard animal. Downside? They overcooked both of our steaks; I ordered a 12oz strip, medium rare, which was surprisingly thick for a small portion. It was medium in parts, medium well in others, and medium rare in other parts. UNEVEN! Hey – what can you do – it was lunch in midtown. My buddy ordered the petite filet with shrimp, medium, and it was medium well to fully well. What a shame. The meat was good though, so I am only taking off three points. Butter. BUTTER is the secret here. Everything is soaked in it. I ordered the ribeye and the fat cap on it was delicious. The cut was nice and gamey from the aging process, just like last time. There was a strip or two that I couldn’t eat, but for the most part this was a great experience. My wife loved the flavor too. They serve it on a hot plate, which I dislike in general, but I ordered my steak a bit under just to be safe. As it turns out, they cooked it just right regardless of the hot plate. They’ve got the system down.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 8

The lunch menu had tons to choose from. Ribeyes, cowboy ribeyes (bone in), porterhouses for multiple diners, t-bones (which I think they call their porterhouse for one), strips, several portions of filets, and lamb. They did, however, stick to the basics. No skirts, flanks or anything like that. The quality is all prime and aged. Very nice.

Portion Size & Plating: 8

We ordered from a prix fix menu: soup or salad; petite filet + shrimp or strip; creamed spinach or mashed potato; strawberry shortcake with hazelnut truffles. Even this lunch special had great portions, at 6 and 12 ounces for filet and strip. Their regular menu items are average to large sized, but I took points off for the “hot plate” style of plating that I despise. It ruins meat, and it MAY be why our meat was overcooked. Meat, after cooked, needs to rest! The size of the cowboy ribeye was probably about 20oz.

Price: 8

Ribeyes are mid to high $40s, which is normal for NYC steak joints. Our meal was $75 total with tax and tip (the prix fix is $28.95 for soup (gazpacho) or salad; petite filet + shrimp or strip; creamed spinach or mashed potato; and strawberry shortcake with hazelnut truffles). Total meal for two on the second visit was $243 including tax and tip, which was with several apps, sides, drinks, etc. Not bad!

Bar: 9

The bar is nice looking – dark wood, fancy looking. I’d definitely hang here for a martini, which they make well. And wine – WINE – everywhere. It is part of the decor, since almost every wall in the hallways are also wine racks, you can’t miss them. The collection is beautifully encased in glass and wood cabinetry throughout the entire restaurant.

Specials and Other Meats: 9

This is tough to rate on a lunch meal, but they do have chicken (for pussies) and lamb (for half pussies). As for the prix fix – it was awesome for the price. Well worth it. This place has some really great specials on and off the EXTENSIVE menu. Really take your time to poke around, because there are nice surf and turf combos and price fix deals. Also they will pretty much accomodate anything you ask for. 
 

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 9

The creamed spinach and mashed potato were basic – nothing fancy – but when you combined a fork-full it was spectacular. The salads were basic, but my blue cheese dressing was top notch, with real chunks of blue cheese and a nice cream. The dessert, also, was basic, but the flavor of it surprised me in a good way (strawberry shortcake with strawberry whipped cream and hazelnut chocolate truffles). We had some new items on the second trip. The mandarin arugula and crispy prosciutto salad with shaved parmasean cheese was excellent, and a big portion. The sweet yet peppery, bacon-scented dressing was a great way to open the meal. We also had the spicy lobster plate, which was essentially a lobster tempura with a spicy kick to it. Yummy! Last, we had the amazing crabtini. Get it. Big juicy lumps of crabmeat dressed in a nice aioli. Totally worth it. My wife had a price fix deal that came with a side of broccolini. It was essentially steamed but then topped with a savory parmasean cheese crumble. Not too bad. For dessert we had some vanilla ice cream (rich and creamy), and our anniversary plate had some fruit + cream, a bit of ice cream, and a thick, rich, coffee-flavored chocolate cake.

Seafood Selection: 8

I have to be honest, I didn’t even look, but I will leave the score as a default 8. Some fools behind us ordered salmon – assholes. May as well order a plate of grilled veggies or a tofu steak, as my buddy said. They had an almond crusted seabass and some scallops on a price fix special that looked really enticing. My wife had a special seafood plateau that came with pre-cracked Alaskan king crab, a half lobster, and shrimp. The lobster was a bit over-boiled, but all else was good. They also have a good deal of other seafood items on the regular menu by way of apps, but not much in terms of mains. As such, I am keeping this as an 8.

Service: 10

Service is good here. They have male and female servers, but all wear the classic white button down with a tie of some sort. I didn’t quite get into it with the waitress about the meat, and she almost brought us a plate of fries on accident, but I can tell they know what they are doing. Warm crisp bread with spreadable, home-made whipped butter, and nice tables, etc. They pay close attention to the notes you add when you make your reservation online. They wished us happy anniversary multiple times, and they even created a special seafood plateau upon request, even though they don’t have one on the menu (though it was a bit pricey). They also brought out a special dessert plate with “happy anniversary” written on it in chocolate. Nice touch.

Ambiance: 10

Going into a chain steakhouse, I was expecting much less than what I experienced. This place is fantastic inside. Really beautiful, elegant, dark, woody, manly, fancy, and comfortable. Nice mural paintings of old style urbanites adorn the walls, which are half dark wood wainscoting on the bottom and half elegant patterned wallpaper on top (where there are no paintings/murals). An elegant stairway leads up from the entryway to an unknown dining area of further fancifulness. I didn’t use the shitter, so I don’t know how good it is. The shitter is nice. They have green marble tiles, dark wood trim and thick disposable hand towels. The place is also pretty big, with multiple seating areas for dining.

RUTH’S CHRIS
148 W. 51st St.
New York, NY 10019

3 thoughts on “Ruth’s Chris (NYC)”

  1. A couple general observations about this great blog driven by your Ruth’s Chris review.

    If you weren’t a guy I’d want to date you if for no other reason than we’re in agreement on steak joints.  Keens will rightfully make the top-ten of most reviewers’ lists, but many feel the need to slot it fourth or fifth behind a few trendy joints of the moment.  No. I’ll accept equals, or someone’s personal taste pushing Keens down one or two spots, but it remains the king of all steakhouses in NYC and sits atop my list at #1. 

    You’ve correctly nailed Gallaghers and Lugers as more middle of the pack, and I’m being slightly kind suggesting Lugers is even in the middle range of top steakhouses.  Its high reputation, one that it embraces and promotes, means it better be great. Sadly, it makes it one of the more overrated steakhouses in or around the city because it nowhere near approaches its reputation.  If all a place does is basically porterhouse, it better be the best damn one in the city, hence the world.  It’s not.  Keens’ porterhouse is consistently and substantially better, and Keens offers just about everything else, something Lugers does not. Last, dry-aged is great for steak, but not necessarily for waiters, where at Lugers they’re a bit tough. The place can be better.

    And that brings me to Ruth’s Chris. My friends know me as a bit of steak snob, so they’re always surprised when I remind them that I like Ruth’s Chris. It’s easily the best of the higher-end chain steakhouses, when choosing from the likes of Morton’s, Capital Grille, etc. Their style of bathing all their meats in butter no doubt “evens out” the cuts of beef, so lesser grades are made more acceptable. No matter. It’s tasty. It works.  The ambiance feels right and they have a nice selection of sides, desserts and wines.  They know how to make a martini.  I recommend the Ruth’s Chris in Weekawken at Lincoln Harbor Plaza. The ferry stops right at the door.  It has one thing that no other Ruth’s Chris has. A spectacular view of Manhattan.  Few better places to be for dinner on a cold December night, sitting in a warm steakhouse, sipping wine with the Manhattan skyline providing ambient light for dinner. Great for business or dates.

    I have not tried the Strip House yet, but based on your other reviews, I’ll add it as a must visit this season, because winter is coming, and that’s a great time to try out the best steakhouses in NYC.

    1. Hey thanks for the input!  Yeah – I have no major complaints about Ruth’s Chris. I’ve had two high-above-average meals there, and would definitely go back for a third.  I’ve always loved Keens, but they do not have a ribeye, which I think is a shame. Everything else about that place is perfect though. If they had a ribeye, they would be very close to having a perfect score.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *