Ruth's Chris Steakhouse

Ruth's Chris Steakhouse

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Good but is it worth the price???

Aug 24, 2005 (Updated Aug 24, 2005)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:The quality of the meat is the star

Cons:Pricey. Only the steak was superior; appetizer and side dish was mediocre

The Bottom Line: The meat is really tender but, I've had as good or better, elsewhere, at lower cost.


Ruth Chris Steakhouse, Walnut Creek

This Ruth Chris location is in the heart of downtown Walnut Creek, California, next door to Andronico Markets. There is huge, multi-level, municipal parking garage behind their building so parking is very easy. Valet parking is also offered by the restaurant.

The restaurant is up on the second floor of a small, two-story brick building. Upon entry, there is an elegant elevator with beautifully, carved wood panels and carpeted floor. This, immediately, gives you the hint of the kind of class and elegance you can expect for your dining experience. If you choose, you can climb the rather long, plush carpeted staircase to the dining room.

At the top of the stairs is the reception podium. We’re greeted warmly by several young hostesses. We were a party of four. We were guests of another couple that had received a gift certificate for $200 and they wanted to share their good fortune. We had 6:30 PM reservations and we were right on time. We were seated, immediately. We had an excellent window table overlooking the street scene, below. The interior was very nice – plush carpeting, fine table cloth, folded, heavy cloth napkin, heavy silver-plated utensils and heavy, beautiful dinnerware that matched the carpeting and drapes. The water goblets, like the wine glasses, were thin-rimmed with a delicate tulip shape. The wine glasses were not Riedel or Spiegelau but very similar in appearance, quality and feel. The menus were bound in heavy, dark, rich looking leather. The wine list was similar. Everything was elegant.

We were cheerfully greeted by Mark, our waiter. He asked if we had been to a Ruth Chris Steakhouse before. We replied in the affirmative. If this were our first experience, they give a little talk about the origins, ideals and objectives as prepared for them by Corporate headquarters. Our hosts had brought a bottle of fine Cabernet and they handed it over to Mark. He asked if we wanted it decanted. Our host declined stating that he was very familiar with that wine and it needed no decanting or breathing. Mark, obviously, knew what to do and with efficient and professional moves, quickly; opened it and poured a tasting for our host. It was fully acceptable and Mark poured small amounts for the four of us. He then informed us of the specials for the day and left us to ponder our menu selections.

Understandably, the menu is sparse. There were 5 appetizers and 2 soups for starters. There were 6 salads. In addition to the steaks, they offered Ahi Tuna, Lobster, Lamb Chops, Stuffed Chicken Breast and Veal Chops. And you could have Mashed, Baked, Au Gratin, Steak Fries, Julienne, Shoestring or Lyonnaise Potatoes. For vegetable side dishes, you could have Broiled Tomatoes, Asparagus, Sauteed Mushrooms, French Fried Onion Rings, Fresh Spinach, Creamed Spinach, Spinach Au Gratin or Fresh Broccoli. All entrees are ala carte, so these would all be extras.

The first thing we did was order an appetizer - Barbecued Shrimp: Sautéed New Orleans style in reduced white wine, butter, garlic and spices. This was recommended by our waiter.

I chose a Bone-In Ribeye. The other three chose Petite Fillets. I ordered mine Medium Rare and asked for sautéed onions as an accompaniment. My wife and I also split a Caesar Salad, as did our hosts. We also ordered a Potatoes Au Gratin to be shared by all.

Our appetizer arrived and it was swimming in butter. There were 4 medium-sized shrimp and they were plump and juicy. The flavor was on the mild side, however. I expected it to be spicier due to its New Orleans roots. I think a Shrimp Scampi would have been more flavorful.

The Caesar salads were pre-split in the kitchen for us and delivered fairly promptly following the finish of our appetizer. The Romaine Lettuce was fresh, crisp and not overly-dressed with a nice balance to the flavor of the dressing. However, there was no trace of anchovies. I missed that as I like a touch of that in the dressing. I think it adds to the complexity of flavors.

Our steaks arrived promptly following our salad course. They, too, were swimming in clarified butter on a large dinner plate. Mine was just right for doneness and it was very tender with good flavor. It was large enough that I could not, comfortably, finish it. My wife reported that hers was extremely tender and she liked the flavor and felt that it was the proper doneness as she ordered. What we both felt was missing, however, was the nice charred carmelization of the exterior and no grill marks. Instead, the meat has an overall, uniform gray/brown color. It did not look like it had been grilled or broiled as it was far to even in color and texture. But, it was very good in taste and tenderness. And, the plates were very hot so the meat stayed warm to the end of our meal.

The Au Gratin Potatoes, however, were a major disappointment. They were covered with a bright yellow cheese that I would guess to be a sharp cheddar cheese but the dish lacked flavor or complexity. It was simply cheesy potatoes and not very moist at that.

We finished our meal with a cup of coffee. I was impressed with this because it came to the table in two medium-sized French Press units. Mark, the waiter pushed the stem to clarify the grounds and poured our coffee, immediately. This was very good coffee – strong but not bitter and a very nice coffee flavor.

Our host paid the check so I do not know the exact amount of the tab. The menu stated that my Bone-in Ribeye was $38.95. My wife’s Petite Fillet was $28.95 and the cheapest steak on the menu. Our Caesar Salad was just under $10 and the one accompaniment of Au Gratin Potatoes was $8.50.

All in all, it was a very nice meal efficiently served in a comfortable and unhurried setting. I felt the price was too high, however. I’ve had steaks in other places that were as good but at a much lower price. In my mind, $40 is too much to pay for a steak that is not far and away better than a $23 steak. And, as I recounted above, the appetizer and potato side-dish were nothing memorable.

Jim


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