Saturday, August 04, 2007

Ruth's Chris - Upscale, Yet Unpretentious

For my hubby’s birthday we decided to use a gift card that we had for Ruth’s Chris and give it a go. We are not big on chain restaurants, but we were headed to DC right after his big day and would be spending some dining dollars up there, so we took a chance (gift cards always help!). And the Ruth’s Chris on Huguenot Road did not disappoint. We had been to other high end steak houses, most recently to Fleming’s. Ruth’s Chris did not come off as a chain-like high end steak house. Don’t get me wrong, the prices were up in the stratosphere and everything was a la carte, but the atmosphere was vastly different. At Ruth’s Chris we experienced attentive service in a quiet, comfortable, and unpretentious manner. We were able to take our time and peruse the menu and the wine list without the wait staff hovering over us to recommend what they would prefer. In fact, Martha, our waitress, commented on the fact that we took our time to read the entire menu before deciding on what to order and that not too many diners exhibit this behavior. We were pleased that she was so observant and tailored her timing to our needs.

To drink we ordered a Robert Pecota Kara’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon ($75). At first the wine was very tight and closed. It needed air. By the time our entrees arrived, it had begun to open up with both body and fruit. We were also pleased to see that the wine list had some reasonably priced selections and quite a few under $40. To eat, my husband began with the Fried Oyster appetizer ($10.95). He relished them. The eight breaded entities were small but sweet. Since oysters are not my thing I let him enjoy these on his own. I had the small Wedge Salad ($4.95) with creamy lemon basil dressing. The iceberg wedge itself was very crisp and fresh, but it was served on a bed of mixed green lettuces that had seen better days and made it difficult to cut through the wedge without dislodging the loose greens underneath. The dressing was creamy but lacked a lemon and/or basil flavor. And as Martha took our salad and appetizer plates away, she made a slight gaff – she asked me if I wanted to keep my steak knife. I had used my knife to slice through my lettuce wedge. It was covered with dressing. I had used my regular knife to butter my bread. I hesitated and she recovered quickly enough and offered to bring me another knife. For the prices we were paying, I think another steak knife was in order.

For entrees we stuck to the basics – a Filet ($34.95) for my husband and a Petite Filet ($30.95) for me. Both medium rare with the regular drizzle of butter. We also ordered a side of Garlic Mashed Potatoes ($7.95). And Martha was kind enough to tell us when we ordered that the side dishes were very large and one was more than enough for two people. Apparently serving steaks sizzling on a ceramic oval plate is a Ruth’s Chris tradition, but it can also be dangerous. These plates were extremely hot. We were warned and took care to heed to warning. The table next to us was warned as well, but out of habit the gentleman touched his plate to readjust anyway, and burned his fingers. We enjoyed our steaks, although my spouse’s seemed twice as large as mine. (Next time I might order the regular filet and take part of it home.) Our steaks were cooked and seasoned to perfection. We had the option of ordering sauces with our steak, such as peppercorn, etc. These sauces added $2 to the price of the entrée. We were tempted, but elected to see how the steak held up on its own. We were pleased. As we dined soft piano music played in the background and the musician during his break stopped by various tables to take requests. The manager also made the rounds inquiring about our meal. All of this took place in a very relaxed, low-key atmosphere which suited our tastes very well.

To cap the evening I ordered coffee which was presented in a French press ($3.95). The French press held about 3 cups of good, quality stuff. My husband, being his birthday, ordered Keoke Coffee ($7.25) – a mixture of coffee, Tia Maria, and brandy.

By the end of the evening we were relaxed and full and satisfied. We were also happy to have a gift card. We would definitely recommend this place to others for an upscale, yet low-key dining experience. And now that we’ve experienced the steaks, we can go back and try other slightly less expensive dishes such as the roasted chicken or tuna.

And one more thing, Ruth’s Chris accepts reservations via Open Tables.

Ruths Chris Steak House on Urbanspoon


Rich Terrell said...

My wife and I have always enjoyed Ruth Chris for a special evening where steak will be on the agenda. In Richmond, I would probably choose Ruth Chris first, Flemings second, and Morton's a distant third when it comes to fine dining where steak is the centerpiece. Maybe other Morton's are different, but we found the one in Richmond to be unbelievably pretentious.

Flemings is actually close to being a tie for first - but I have to give the nod to Ruth for the steak. I appreciate the atmosphere at Fleming's though, and of course they have a tremendous wine selection. Fleming's has a great Sunday special not a lot of people know about - a prime rib dinner that is served for $24.95 as a complete four course meal. Prime Rib, Salad, Side and dessert. At Fleming's that is very attractive pricing. If you have not tried it before, and enjoy Prime Rib, I would encourage you to give it a go.

Janet said...

I definitely put Flemings far ahead of RC or Morton's. I believe Flemings has better steaks and hands down better service as well as wine.

Shannon said...

They also have the absolute best salmon I have ever had in a restaurant. They serve it with a half a lemon (wrapped in gauze), and with an incredible dill/butter/cream sauce. And the filet was HUGE. Definitely worth trying if you don't go for steak (even in an upscale steak house).