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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.
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.
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.
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.
I mean, holy shit… come on…
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. 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.
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.
In these pics, the filet is on top, and the strip is on bottom.
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.
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.
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:
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.
For dessert we had two items. First was another new menu feature: white chocolate bread pudding served with spirit reduction sauce.
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.
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:
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!
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!
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
Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 8
Portion Size & Plating: 8
Specials and Other Meats: 9
Apps, Sides & Desserts: 9
Seafood Selection: 8
148 W. 51st St.
New York, NY 10019