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weinoo

Ruth's Chris Ain't All That Bad

46 posts in this topic

I know people don't really equate Ruth's Chris with the top tier of steak houses and that's OK. But I was in Florida visiting my mom recently, and we took mom and a cousin to the Boca Raton location for a birthday dinner and guess what? It wasn't bad.

Of course, the Boca location may have different deals than other locations, and no, it wasn't an early bird special either. But for $49.99, I was able to choose any of the salads or a soup for the starter, a 16 oz. ribeye for my main along with one of the sides, and a house dessert, which in this case was a warm chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream - not great, but not throwaway by any means. There were other entrée options at that prix fixe, and there was a $39.99 prix fixe as well; one of the entrées was crab cakes, which were quite good, and my ribeye was perfectly cooked and delicious.

The wine list looked OK; certainly the by the glass wines weren't outrageously priced, but I wasn't drinking as I was driving, so I didn't delve too heavily into the list.

So, why the bad rap? Or do I just think/assume it gets a bad rap?


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

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My parents eat at that location a few times a year and really enjoy it.

We have one here and its the same for me. They have the preparing and cooking part of doing a steak down pat.

I've been disappointed at Morton's the last outings at two different locations.


edited for grammar & spelling. I do it 95% of my posts so I'll state it here. :)

"I have never developed indigestion from eating my words."-- Winston Churchill

Talk doesn't cook rice. ~ Chinese Proverb

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I suppose the question could really be posed for any national chain restaurant. Chain restaurant usually aren't failing because the food is horrendous. I personally haven't eaten at a Ruth's Chris in about ten years, not because I am avoiding them, but because I'm just not a huge steak kind of guy. There was nothing wrong with the meal I had, but I willingly acknowledge that I'd rather support my local independent restaurants that make northeast Ohio unique rather than a national chain restaurant where homogeneity is the key to success. I also recognize that for many people, homogeneity is precisely what they are looking for.

It always makes me sad to hear of friends traveling to other parts of the country only to have eaten at the local Olive Garden or Cheesecake Factory and not bothered to look into any local joints.


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I suppose the question could really be posed for any national chain restaurant.

But the question in this topic is specifically about Ruth's Chris and steakhouses, not Olive Garden or Cheesecake Factory.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

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Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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You do have to be very specific in these discussions about which location (of the hundreds of them) you're referring to.

20 years ago when Ruth Fertel was still alive, I recall the original in N'Awlins or Metairie was not half bad, as were some others in the US South; at that time the one in San Francisco (closer to my usual haunts) was cruelly disappointing for a dinner party: although the steaks were of reasonably good quality, the vegetables might have been from a school lunch steam table, overcooked, flavorless, drizzled with something suspiciously like Margerine. Fertel* later died and the chain expanded and as of a few years ago (before the Flood) I didn't find any natives in New Orleans who thought much of them even in their home city. Tourist stuff, they said. Other local, independent, sometimes funky steakhouses were more respected.

I recall RC being perceived in the chain steakouse world in recent years as a mid-priced brand (other chains like the vast Del Frisco have as many as three tiers under different names) and I recall from a couple of years ago that some RC's were repurchasd by the chain after independent ownership, and subsequently more carefully run. One such, where I had several meals in recent years, is in the Palm Springs area -- one of the adjacent towns -- extremely well managed and rather creative; its manager even started the local Restaurant Week program to promote the local restaurants, in 2008 or 2009, with good success.

So (I find this true of most of the respectable midprice chain restaurants), much depends on the individual site, its people, its ownership, maybe the standards of its customers. That makes it useless to generalize any such chain, as when for example a Zagat guide uses one location in Los Angeles to characterize other locations all over Southern CA, covering hundreds of miles, as it did with one smaller moderately upscale restaurant chain (Daily Grill).

*If anyone dosn't know the history, Ruth Fertel, a divorced chemist, originally bought a local restaurant called Chris Steak House under proviso to retain the name Chris, hence Ruth's Chris.

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I suppose the question could really be posed for any national chain restaurant.

But the question in this topic is specifically about Ruth's Chris and steakhouses, not Olive Garden or Cheesecake Factory.

But Ruth's Chris is still a national chain. I think that right there is a major reason is gets a "bad rap". Dallas has LOTS of steakhouses. Lots of local ones or ones that are part of small chains, in addition to all the familiar national chains. Would I take an out of towner to Ruth's Chris? Of course not. Would I select it for a group of locals that wanted to go to a steakhouse? Nope. There are better choices out there.


Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"
jmeeker@eGullet.org

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The bad rap I have for RC is that the places are so variable. For exp I was at one in Mississippi and ordered (I think it was) potatoes lyonaisse, and was served deep fried cubed potatoes. They also put butter on steaks.

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The bad rap I have for RC is that the places are so variable. For exp I was at one in Mississippi and ordered (I think it was) potatoes lyonaisse, and was served deep fried cubed potatoes. They also put butter on steaks.

So do Alain Ducasse, Thomas Keller, etc.?

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A few years back we were waiting for a table at Zaytinya in DC. Their pager didn't work so we never got called. When we approached the hostess she basically told us we were out of luck. We were pretty pissed off by then and walked across the street to RC. We had a great meal and actually felt wanted.

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The swimming in butter on a sizzling platter is their "signature". You can ask for it not to be served that way if you don't like it. Some people don't. Others love it.


Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"
jmeeker@eGullet.org

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The bad rap I have for RC is that the places are so variable. For exp I was at one in Mississippi and ordered (I think it was) potatoes lyonaisse, and was served deep fried cubed potatoes. They also put butter on steaks.

So do Alain Ducasse, Thomas Keller, etc.?

They suck too.

Who knew?

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They also put butter on steaks.

That's not a bug, it's a feature.


"There is nothing like a good tomato sandwich now and then."

-Harriet M. Welsch

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I helped open a Ruth's Chris a few years ago.

I don't have good things to say.

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Hubby and I were given a gift certificate for Ruth C's and I have to say it was probably the most disappointing meal we have ever had. The server was snooty, the food was mediocre and despite a so-called dress code there was a large table of people in cut-offs, with baseball caps and voices that carried out to the road - never again - not even with a gift certificate.


Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

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I've always felt it was the kind of restaurant where people who think they know fine food, but really have no clue, go to when they want a fine meal. They also go to Red Lobster for seafood, Olive Garden for italian, and Chevy's for mexican.

Like the poster above, I had a steak there and it was a properly cooked steak, but the sides were meh. And for the price, I (and pretty much everyone else) can get a much better steak meal at a local place.

edit: another thought


Edited by therippa (log)

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I cannot picture a scenario where it would be my first choice, but I would definitely put RC at the top of my "acceptable compromise" list of restaurants. If I'm going out w/family or co-workers who lean towards chains, I'd much rather go to RC than Outback or Longbranch, etc. The impersonal service and predictable upselling/nickel and diming I've experienced aren't the greatest, but the food is ok. If it's someone else's dime I'll push for Capital Grille every time though, lol.

I don't know if anyone else feels like this, but when it comes to mixed-company dining and the inevitable angst over an evening at a mega-chain, I'd pretty much rather go and eat some passable grub at a place like Ruth's Chris than press the issue and get people to eat at one of MY local favorites. In my experience there are just way more complainers than converts, and I just cannot deal with someone hammering on one of my places of worship :raz: .

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I haven't been to a Ruth's Chris since I acquired a superlative infrared grill. (What's the point? I can make a RC steak anytime I want one for the price of the meat.)

That being said, even if I didn't have the grill, I wouldn't go to RC -- three reasons:

1) RC's food does not justify the prices. I'm hardly a cheapskate, but $7 for a baked potato is ridiculous. I can go to Bouchon and have a flatiron steak frites for $36.50 total. TK doesn't charge $40 for the steak and then another $7 for the frite. Hell, the frite is $5.50 as a side. That's well worth it. But not $7 for a potato cooked by the metric ton in a rational oven.

2) More on pricing -- for the two of us, a meal at RC would set us back $200. Two steaks, two sides and a bottle of wine. For an extra $100 or $200, we could get a FABULOUS meal at Carnevino. Why pay $200 for "OK" when "great" doesn't cost all that much more? I feel that a lot of money spent at RC goes for advertising -- on taxis and "In-Flight" magazines. I prefer to dine at places that don't need marketing.

3) There are too many good non-chain steakhouses locally. Why give some hum-drum corporation my hard-earned money when I can spend at a place where I know the chef? The exec chef at Carnevino is named Zack. He's a cool dude. And I know he really cares about the quality of his dishes.

So, I guess my point is that Ruth's Chris is for people who either don't have better options or don't know any better.


Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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I've always felt it was the kind of restaurant where people who think they know fine food, but really have no clue, go to when they want a fine meal. They also go to Red Lobster for seafood, Olive Garden for italian, and Chevy's for mexican.

Wow, that's not too condescending. Fine food indeed - do tell.

How about a place to go when I want to take two 85-year old ladies, where one of them could order some salmon and one of them could order a steak? And my wife could have a decently made martini. And all the ladies could drink a decent glass of wine or two. And feel like they're being treated specially. And there's valet parking. And they feel like they've been out for a really nice meal when it's over.

And me, fine food maven that I am, had a pretty decent steak.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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So, I guess my point is that Ruth's Chris is for people who either don't have better options or don't know any better.

See above. Boca ain't Vegas, where we know all the restaurants are fabulous.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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So, I guess my point is that Ruth's Chris is for people who either don't have better options or don't know any better.

See above. Boca ain't Vegas, where we know all the restaurants are fabulous.

I know -- slim pickins in Boca Raton. (I'm from Key West, remember?)

You didn't have better options. I'm not denigrating your choice, only answering why I wouldn't choose to dine at an RC.

What I don't get is the fact that RC on Paradise Road here in Vegas (and that's quite a bit off the strip) is always packed (at least the parking lot is). All the great steakhouses we have here and yet people still go to RC.


Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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See, I guess I just don't think that most steakhouses sell beef which is that much empircally better than the beef that you get at RC.

Oh sure, go to Bern's, or Luger's, or Carnevino or a number of others. Lobel's butcher shop in New York, even. But they're the exception, and you're surely going to be paying top dollar for those steaks...they get the pick of the litter; everyone else gets the rest.

And the sides cost what the sides cost. At Sparks over the holidays, my baked potato was $9. My strip was a fortune, and it was good but not revelatory. The creamed spinach was meh. As was the dessert.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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So, I guess my point is that Ruth's Chris is for people who either don't have better options or don't know any better.

That's a pretty harsh statement, and you must realize that you can only speak about locations that *you* have personally visited. The one in Metairie and the one in Baton Rouge have all served me wonderful steaks, and my taste buds are just as good as anyone else's. :cool:

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So, I guess my point is that Ruth's Chris is for people who either don't have better options or don't know any better.

That's a pretty harsh statement, and you must realize that you can only speak about locations that *you* have personally visited. The one in Metairie and the one in Baton Rouge have all served me wonderful steaks, and my taste buds are just as good as anyone else's. :cool:

Hey, if you like it you like it.

But I think I didn't emphasize the advertising angle enough. A 1/4 page ad in In-Flight magazine runs around $25,000 per issue. Four issues per year, and that's just one of the dozens of "read on an airplane" magazines RC advertises in. Throw in all the local magazines and placards on taxis and we're probably talking about several million dollars, which is ultimately paid by the customer. There's your seven-dollar potato, right there.

I'd rather go to a steakhouse that doesn't need to advertise because everyone knows how good the place is. I have several to choose from in my neck of the desert, so RC isn't my best option.

So, yes, I stand by the statement -- it's fine if there aren't any better steakhouses. But if there ARE better steakhouses locally, why go to RC?


Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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