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What's Up Magazine

Restaurant Review: Ruth’s Chris Steak House

Feb 01, 2018 02:38PM
By Rita Calvert
Photography by Tony Lewis, Jr.

Ruth’s Chris Steak House

301 Severn Avenue Annapolis, MD 21403 • 410-990-0033

Ruth’s Chris’ stellar reputation made us eager for our visit. Ruth’s Chris franchised New Orleans-based restaurant has  a template for success, relying for its signature beef on the top two percent of USDA prime  beef, grilled at 1800 degrees and served on sizzling 500-degree plates. With the reputation and pricing, Ruth’s Chris has a lot to live up to. Our evening kicked off nicely with their complementary valet service, much welcomed in Eastport where street parking can be a challenge. As we stepped from the car, a delightful light aroma of garlic and butter promised
a tasty indulgent repast. 

Still in effect in Annapolis is the Ruth’s Chris dress code, actually a delight in a resort town with a casual sailing crowd. The website thanks us for not wearing athletic wear, tank tops (gentlemen), clothing with offensive graphics or language, flip flops, cut-off shorts or torn clothing. Oh, and please remove your hat upon entering. Given the formality of the interior rooms, it lends a luxurious Gatsby touch to the experience. 

Warmly greeted as we walked in, we asked for patio seating to take advantage of the late summer air. We took note of this magazine’s proudly displayed 2017 Award for Best Wait Staff and the many Wine Spectator awards, another promise that we were in for a treat. And on that we were well-rewarded. Our server, Frank, was fairly new but he was well-trained, most affable, and paid thoughtful attention to us throughout, even though the “action” was mainly in the busier indoor and more plush dining rooms. He also managed to insert some quiet humor.

We didn’t have to think hard about trying a Ruth’s Chris cocktail, guessing that the popular trend of “handcrafted” drinks would be “done right” here. Perhaps the Pomegranate Smash--whiskey-based, with house-made grenadine and fresh mint? Or would it be a vintage classic with an updated twist? Like Ruth’s gin and tonic (with its proprietary tonic syrup), Gucci Slingback, or the Port of Manhattan? In the end, my friend chose a simple glass of wine--the very reasonably priced cabernet from Hess’ Shirttail Ranches line. 

What to order! Not so easy to decide. Steakhouse classics star here, as we knew, but the range of different beef cuts and clever seafood alternatives, plus appetizer, salad, and side selections made it tough to narrow our choices to a reasonable number, given what we’d heard about the more than generous portions. Still, while we studied our options, we did sample the warm bread combo of a dense white and a raisin honey grain, too fresh and fragrant to skip. 

Along with a la carte options, Ruth’s also offers a three-course prix fixe menu that my companion chose from--pleased by its inclusion of many favorites. For example, several salads for the first course--Caesar, steak house salad, red and golden beet frisee salad or carrot and ginger soup. Classic side choices of Ruth’s mashed potatoes, creamed spinach, edamame & corn succotash or crab fried rice and of course, plenty of turf or surf. For $49.99, one could choose from 6-ounce filet and shrimp, stuffed chicken breast, spicy salmon with crispy shrimp, or 6-ounce filet with horseradish crust. Or for $59.99: 11-ounce filet, 16-ounce ribeye, 6-ounce filet and cold-water lobster tail or korean BBQ salmon.

My friend chose the Caesar, nicely presented with generous Romano shavings and delicious buttery garlic croutons--too good not to ask our server for more than the scant two on the salad. After all, what better way to mop up the just-right, house-made dressing?

Next, the 16-ounce ribeye. One word: wow. Thick, juicy, the perfect sizzle sound, and grill marks. Moist and flavorful. Even before the first taste, one just knew this would easily top any backyard steak you could pull off at home. My friend declared the remainder she brought home a full five-star steak, even the next day. Perfectly cooked to my friend’s preferred--and hard to get just right--medium rare. Not medium. Not rare. Medium rare. (Hint: if you order a la carte, you can choose from different sized selections: the 12-ounce petite ribeye, the monster 22-ounce cowboy ribeye, or the--oh my--40-ounce tomahawk ribeye. Or, you can even choose another cut altogether: tender filet, t-bone, porterhouse (for two), New York strip, or lamb chops).  Hard to say whether she would have eaten more of it had it not been for the famous mashed potatoes. She literally said she might get two orders of these potatoes instead of a steak next time --they were that good. We had to know the process. Frank told us the potatoes are riced first, then whipped with butter and milk. This perfect balance between creamy and fluffy isn’t easy. 

Having read the menu without the pricing, the chilled seafood tower with Maine lobster, Alaskan king crab legs, jumbo shrimp, and colossal lump blue crab was a huge temptation. However, the $118.00 price tag was prohibitive. I still chose the sea, combining two appetizers into a meal. First, the crab stack arrived tidy and impressive, roundly molded, layering lump blue crab atop a mild medley of avocado and mango. The dish combined sweet and savory in every bite by way of the Russian-style dressing lightly swirled on the plate. I actually felt it could use some additional pizzazz with a bit of heat or at least a bit more dressing. The warm day boat scallop appetizer arrived with an impressive frazzle, which actually was clever mandolined carrot, daikon, and zucchini ribbons sitting perkily on top. I had opted to forego the blackened spice on the scallops which still seems popular in New Orleans cuisine. Three scallops floated under the vegetables on a pool of pesto-lemon butter. The wrapped lemon half dressed up the tiny plate.

We decided to split a dessert. The prix fixe includes an apple pastry--but for desserts and sides, you can choose any alternative to prix menu options for just $4. We went with the à la carte offering of banana cream pie. Rather than the traditional wedge you’d picture, this was an individual torte, a dear round crust, filled with fresh banana cream, encircled with fresh banana slices, then topped with the perfect--yes, perfect--caramelized sugar glaze, the sort usually reserved for creme brulee--also an option. Along with a table top French press of coffee, it really was quite divine.

With close to three decades in the food, media production, marketing and public relations fields, Rita has created myriad programs, events, cooking sessions on national television, the stage, and The Annapolis School of Cooking. She has partnered in writing cookbooks and product lines to showcase the inspiration, art, and nourishment of food. Her work has always embodied the naturally wholesome and satisfying. In The Grassfed Gourmet Fires It Up, Rita supports the effort for Regenerative Agriculture while helping grillers understand what makes ‘100% grassfed’ different.