Monday, January 21, 2013
First time ever to Ruth's Chris.
Saturday night in Charlotte can be a long wait for anyone interested in a good meal. In fact, even the quick sit-downs like Salsarita's and Chic-Fil-A are packed. How on earth do you get into a Ruth's Chris on a Saturday night then? Well reservations silly.
Okay, I am sure that sounds easier said than done. They are wise to use a computer-pased system that not only can we reserve online and integrate, but they use it for all calls and walk in. This doesn't allow for someone to guess or add randomly. This is quite an accomplishment in the field of food service. Being concerned (ie: not knowing how good it worked) we arrived at 8:15 for our 8:30 reservation. Good planning/good manners. Your choice.
While we waited and conversed, they came around with complimentary Champagne. That was a very nice touch indeed. Minutes later we were seated. They were almost exact in meeting the reservation. When I tell you that this place was packed, I mean it. The occupancy fire notice shows a capacity around 250 and they sure had that there.
So, how does that picture look by the way. The waiter came over to tell us about the specials and the meat - and what you see there is the Filter Mignon that was on my plate. No "choice" cuts here. It's all Prime Aged beef and it shows. Those little onion strings on top are a nice garnish, but that sizzling butter is what people know so well. The meat is placed in a 1000 degree broiler and served on a 500 degree plate. You can hear that butter sizzle from 10 feet away. Don't miss the HOT PLATE warning from your server or your fingers will pay the price (ask my wife).
One thing I thought was curious was the recommendation to all order different sides. I am used to a scoop of this or that next to my beef. Since they operate in an a-la-carte fashion, the side portions were extremely "generous". I used quotes for generous because the reference is for the amount. Price now, not so generous. Good... YES. Low cost... Not on your best day.
I had the Crab and Corn Chowder for my starter. Crab was present and nice. Corn was the real feature. A nice bisque-style base made it a joy. It was a cup size portion leaving plenty of room for the real star of the show - the Filet. Now they have all cuts and sizes, but we came for Queens Feast and the choice was the Bistro Filet, Stuffed Chicken, Salmon or Portobello Mushroom (for the vegetarian option). Now it is my thought that you eat steak at a place made famous for steak. The couple behind us had the chicken. More power to them, more meat for me please.
I am a medium rare guys on this steak anywhere else. That 500 degree plate made me think that rare would be in order. It makes sense to think it will cook a little as it rests on the plate. I was wrong. That's okay though. The sear was great, the inside was cool, the meat was rare and stayed that way. It cut like butter and you could see how impressive the Prime aging was on the cut. For rare meat, it was did not bleed onto the plate. It was thanks to that great aging. That alone is worth the price of admission I tell you (and may tell you one more time later).
The sides chosen were creamed spinach, sauteed mushrooms and garlic mashed potatoes. The one we didn't pick was the creamed corn. Not really exciting, especially after Crab and Corn Chowder. Two people could easily enjoy one side. 4 people = 4 sides and we were stuffed.
Oh wait, there's a dessert coming. A great cupcake-sized cheesecake with some creme fresh and berries on top. To the side was some house-made chocolate and nut bark. Unlike M&Ms it does melt in your hand. Not an issue though. Finger licking was not frowned on apparently.
They may be best known for their steaks. I get that. I will talk about this for a while, as well as plan my next visit. The service was insanely good. Our waiter balanced humor with efficiency. One table next to us was rather needy in the ordering process, but he made short work of it as he could. They have folks helping with water, bread, cleaning the table with that cool little wand. Food is expedited out and the server is of course on hand to ensure satisfaction. I don't think I could have asked for any better service. Going back I will have something to compare it to. Until then, all full service have a really high mark to live up to. I wish them well.
Queens Feast was a 3 course for $30 event. Beverages are not included. We priced out dinner against the regular menu and this saved us around $12-15 per person. I love this promotion, but understand, I will not feel bad paying the additional $ to have this experience again and again.