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Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, disappointing meal

d
droidicus Dec 2, 2007 04:02 PM

This restaurant is located in the old city hall building in downtown Boston, a stunningly beautiful building with old school architecture, giant 20 ft ceilings inside, and a view onto a old cemetery from the dinning room we sat in (that is a bit unusual). Unfortunately the entire restaurant was kept in near total darkness it was so dim. I had a very hard time reading the menu and actually used the light coming in the window from the Christmas lights in the trees outside to help read the damn thing! Very aggravating. The restaurant features an extensive list of wines, scotches, and aperitifs, and had approximately 25 wines by the glass available. We had 7 people as my table and here is a rundown of what we had.

Drinks
* Mixed drinks - The comment was made that the mixed drinks at the table had far too much ice in them which led them to be watered down quite a bit.
* Scotch - A large selection of scotch meant that many people had quite a few.
* Wine - With the large number of wines available by the glass and only 3 people drinking wine this night we decided to go with individual glasses.
* Chateau Greysac Bordeaux 2005 - Quite nice with all the qualities usually associated with a Bordeaux, went well with the beef.

Appetizers
* Lobster Bisque - Very nice traditionally prepared bisque, although mine had two shards of lobster shell in it, this was the highlight of the meal despite the shell.
* Caesar Salad - Finely chopped and wilted romaine lettuce drenched with far too much caesar salad dressing that tasted like it came out of a bottle, served with a giant parmesan crisp, extremely disappointing for a high end steak house!
* Seared Ahi Tuna - Good, extremely rare tuna with a tasty sauce.

Main Courses and Sides
* Steaks - This is what the restaurant is known for, so everyone got a steaks including fillet, NY strip, ribeye, and porterhouse, many available both with and without bones. All steaks served are US Prime certified. The gimmick that they use at this restaurant is to serve the steaks on a heavy ceramic plate heated to 500 degF in an oven with a dollop of herbed butter to make the whole thing sizzle at the table. There are a multitude of problems with this approach and it really ends being far too much showmanship and not enough GOOD FOOD. The plate continues to cook the steak, causing it to blow right past your preferred state of doneness as it sits in front of you. The heat makes it so that the steak never gets a chance to rest making it pour juice onto the plate instead of into your mouth, and plate will instantly burn you quite badly if you accidentally touch it right after it comes to the table. Overall I was VERY unimpressed with this "fine" steak. In addition, all of the steaks that we ordered were $48 and over, for this kind of money I expect to get a dry aged steak of superb quality. Unfortunately the steaks was around the same quality that I can find at Outback or my local grocery store. Not bad but certainly not worth the money.

* NY Strip Steak - This was my steak and it deserves special mention. The steak was not properly trimmed and had a band of silver skin half way around the steak, this was also the side of the steak that was presented towards me when served resulting in my first cut with the knife to require SAWING through this this band of connective tissue. Very disgusting! Once I realized this and took the band of silver skin off Half of my steak was wonderfully flavored with a nice texture, while the other half was very tough and grisly. Again, nasty. Because of the hot plate gimmick they use the meat was medium-rare when it got to the table, but by the time I was half way through it was fully medium nearing medium-well. Because of the heat, the bottom of the steak was also done more then the top, causing a strange half medium, half medium well situation...

* Mashed Potatoes - Dry, very lumpy (way past the point of rustically mashed), flavor was good but the texture was way off.
* Creamed Spinach - Flavorless, I love creamed spinach but this was a poor preparation.
* Potatoes au Gratin - Ultra rich for the sake of being ultra rich, lacking.
* Asparagus with Hollandaise sauce - Quite nice.

Deserts
* Creme Brulee - Good flavor, but this was obviously brulee'ed in advance and then served to me later, the sugar on top was no where near thick enough and was soggy without that wonderful CRUNCH that a good brulee should have. The fresh berries accompanying this were very nice and tasted like they were in season. I complained about this one after being very disappointed with my meal and the charge was removed.

Overall I was extremely disappointed with this meal, at $100 for just me I was expecting FAR more then what I got. To give you an idea, the appetizers, soup, salad, sides, and deserts were all $10-15, for that amount of money I expect a great salad, spectacular sides, and a brulee made properly and to order. The sizzling plate idea is interesting, and certainly has a good presentation, but the execution is flawed and leads to unfortunate side effects and compromises in the quality of the food. The service was quite slow, requiring just under 3 hours to complete a 3 course meal, I have had a 6 course meal in this length of time. In general, I always have a problem with the "traditional steak house", you know exactly what to expect and nothing is ever imaginative, new, or different. When the steaks from a place like this are crap that just makes it all the worse. Oh, and to top it all off, the waiter forgot to have my car brought around from the Valet service (I gave him the ticket when we were eating our deserts), so I stood in the cold for 10 minutes waiting after I finished my meal. Do yourself the favor, spend a little bit more per person and go to the Oak Room or Grill 23.

Later,
~Droid

  1. b
    bostongal Dec 2, 2007 04:42 PM

    I, too, recently went to Ruth Chris and I whole heartedly agree with this review. I ordered the chopped salad as an appetizer and it was drenched in salad dressing and the dressing was very mayonaiss-ey and very bland. I also ordered the NY strip steak, which was on the smallish side, very fatty (not trimmed properly) and softer than I think a NY strip should be and swimming in butter (I know this is their gimmick but it just added to the fatty quality of the badly trimmed steak)...it cut almost like a filet only more fatty and grainy (the reason I order NY strip is because I like a firmer steak texture). The sides we ordered were all the same...we got the potatoes au gratin - extremely cheesy but too rich, the broccoli au gratin (again, too rich), the pasta au gratin (do you think my dinner companions like cheese?)...the deserts were pretty good however...we had the caramelized banana cream pie and this was the hit of the evening. We also ordered the warm apple crumb tart, also good...the bread pudding wasn't that bad either. I agree that this restaurant is dim but the last time I went here (I've been once before), the waiter handed me a tiny flashlight. All in all, fairly unremarkable meal - I like the steak better at Abe & Louie's.

    1 Reply
    1. re: bostongal
      d
      droidicus Dec 2, 2007 05:01 PM

      It seems to me that any time that a waiter seems compelled to hand the guests a flashlight, that is practically an admission that something is wrong! Unfortunately my waiter didn't have a flashlight to lend.

      Glad to know I am not crazy though :-)

      ~Droid

    2. m
      meb903 Dec 3, 2007 02:43 PM

      i have never liked ruth chris. i went to the one on ft. lauderdale, oh, maybe 12 years ago and it was the same story. if you have a del frisco's in your neighborhood - go there. if you don't and you have a palm, go there. anything is better than ruth chris.

      1. coney with everything Dec 4, 2007 08:48 AM

        swell, company holiday party is at Ruth's Chris tomorrow. At least we get the afternoon off!

        2 Replies
        1. re: coney with everything
          GroovinGourmet Dec 4, 2007 08:59 AM

          lol coney!

          Count me in the went once, never again category.

          Best I can recall, still the most expensive steak I've ever
          ordered, and it was way down the list of top steak experiences.

          Of the high-end steak chains, I think I like Fleming's the best.

          1. re: GroovinGourmet
            j
            Janet from Richmond Dec 5, 2007 04:10 AM

            I agree....Flemings is far superior to RC IMO.

        2. boogiebaby Dec 4, 2007 10:41 AM

          Does anyone know if their prices vary by area? I live in the LA area, and we have a couple of RCSHs in the area that are very good. We eat there several times a year. But the steaks range in price from $32-38, with $65 or so for the 2 person porterhouse. Sides are $7-10, and appetizers are $8-$15. We've never had a bad experience like this, which is why I wonder if the prices and food issues are more regional.

          1 Reply
          1. re: boogiebaby
            d
            droidicus Dec 4, 2007 01:18 PM

            One of my dinning companion's, who has recommended the restaurant in the first place, mentioned as soon as we sat down that the prices were more or less 50% higher then the location he usually goes to in Baltimore, MD. So yes, it does appear that prices vary significantly from one location to another. As an example, the 2 person porterhouse was either $85 or $90 (I cannot recall at the moment), with most steaks from $45-57.

            Later,
            ~Droid

          2. f
            fourunder Dec 4, 2007 11:46 AM

            There is never shortage of naysayers when it comes to chain restaurants, even higher end expensive fine dining establishments. When it comes to Steak Houses, it seems to me the topic gets even more heated.

            I have been to many major Steak house chains and many of the super-hyped Celebrity Chef offerings in Vegas....... National, Regional and Local favorites on every Vacation across the Continental United States......and always on my own dime. These would include, but not limited to:

            Del Frisco's
            Ruth's Chris
            Morton's
            Sullivan's
            Prime
            And every NYC SH you can think of.

            I enjoy them all and they all have their strong points and a few weaknesses, The faults pale in comparison to the things they do well. When you are away from home, RC and all the others are a good alternative to your favorite ones home or away from. They offer predictable quality. If you are looking for faults, you will find them, but I would argue you will find them anywhere. The one subject I will not argue is value. If you do not find it at RC or any other place. That is a personal opinion.

            Not about the OP, but I have heard many stories about the dining public, including from people I know personally. The one thing that strikes me as odd is whenever they are invited as a guest in a personal or business situation, I have never heard them say they declined because the place was inferior and not to their liking. In fact the naysayers I know attend, complain little and clean their plates. Ironic.

            The OP was very detailed in describing his experience and displeasure. I would not dream and attempt to change his/her mind.......However, the last paragraph tells me all I need to know. I think the price quotes are embellished on the high side, as I have not encountered those prices that I can recall, and I have been there recently in New Jersey. I always have a problem with a "traditional steak house"........."the waiter forgot to have my car brought around from the Valet service" while still having desert?

            Maybe some one's expectations are a tad bit too high and unattainable on any occasion.

            4 Replies
            1. re: fourunder
              d
              droidicus Dec 4, 2007 01:13 PM

              A few things, the prices were not embellished, here is what I personally payed for my meal:
              $15 - Glass of wine
              $10 - Bisque
              $47 - NY Strip Steak
              $10 - Creamed Spinach
              $12 - Creme Brulee
              Total: $94 without tax or tip, $117.50 when these are taken into consideration (although I did not end up paying for the desert since it was comped).

              For a three course meal with one glass of wine and a side dish with my main course this is quite high, not the most expensive meal I have ever had, but high enough to expect a meal of extremely high quality. My meal was seriously disappointing, I have literally had a better "steakhouse experience" at Longhorn Steak House (another chain) then this. I am sorry you disagree with me on this point.

              Second, the Valet service "Ultimate Valet" is used at this RC's location and extensively through Boston, every single time I have used them you hand the stub to your waiter when desert comes out, and your car is waiting out front warmed up for you when you are done with your meal, this isn't something special... this is the expected way things work. This simply wasn't done this time and that is an error on the part of either the restaurant or Ultimate Valet. Standing outside in the cold Boston night while your car is brought out for you is not a pleasant way to end a meal, it feels like you are waiting for a buss to come pick you up.

              ~Droid

              1. re: droidicus
                c
                caitlink Dec 4, 2007 05:38 PM

                I had gone once many years ago to see what the fuss was about. Overpriced and service so ok but not great.

                I really do think I cut grill a better steak if i buy a premium cut myself. Have not gone back since.

                1. re: droidicus
                  t
                  TomDel Feb 4, 2008 12:18 PM

                  It is my understanding that a new RC is opening soon near me (Princeton, NJ area) and in fact may already be open. I suppose I’ll have to try it. My standard for steakhouses is the Old Homestead in the Borgata Casino in AC. Best steak I ever had, bar none. I had to laugh at you mentioning that you had a better steak at a Longhorn’s. One opened near me about a year ago and I’ve been there maybe a dozen times for lunch and dinner. I”ve never had a bad meal there. The steaks weren’t the same quality as the OH, but they were close and cost a whole lot less. Of course I was bashed terribly by the anti-chain contingent here when I posted a glowing review, but that was to be expected.

                  1. re: TomDel
                    b
                    big1515 Feb 8, 2008 11:55 AM

                    tomdel;
                    A Long Horn just open near me and you can't get in the place .I was anti-chain until I ate @ the Bone Fish ...it was a great experence ..Peter luger .The Palm ,Sparks in NYC are great ,but you sure pay the price driving in to the City ..You try Scorpio's and I will try Long Horn.. Deal ..?

              2. Emme Dec 4, 2007 11:47 PM

                for me, ruth's chris offers healthy simplicity -- an iceberg wedge salad w/ balsamic vinegar, a steamed lobster (no butter for me please), and a head of broccoli. i know they're supposed to be patronized for the steak, but for me, it's a good source, albeit expensive, of good-for-me food... i have had the stuffed mushrooms, and they too are good.

                the cottage potatoes, scalloped potatoes, and cheesecake leave more to be desired.

                1. SweetPea Dec 5, 2007 02:46 AM

                  2 sets of friends went to one here and both said huge bucks for fair food. Not on my list.

                  1. lynnlato Dec 5, 2007 04:39 AM

                    Wow, if I didn't know better I'd say you were maybe The Charlotte Observer's food critic. I just finished reading her reviews of the 10 top steakhouse restaurant's in Charlotte in this morning's paper. Your experience sounds on par w/ hers. She even mentioned the "abominable potatoes au gratin". She wasn't a fan of the sizzling butter either. Her server greeted her table by saying, "How are you kids doing?" Dessert was lava cake called "Chocolate Explosion" and our critic said it was more like a chocolate bundt cake w/ chocolate sauce poured into the center. She said it was "Yuck". Ha! She spent $96.60 for one person.

                    Oh and critic made a very valid point... these places are steakhouses and you are paying a mint for aged prime beef... steaks should be trimmed and cooked perfectly, after all, it's what they do best.... or should do best.

                    Other steakhouses she reviewed were Capital Grille, Morton's, Palm, Sullivan's, Del Frisco's and four other local restaurants. It looks like her favorite was Del Frisco's although it was quite expensive. Nods also went to McIntosh's & Morton's.

                    This would be why I steer clear of all levels of chain restaurants. Even the high end ones struggle to get it right.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: lynnlato
                      southernitalian Dec 5, 2007 07:24 AM

                      http://www.charlotte.com/439/story/39...

                      As usual, a great article from Helen. And correct me if I'm wrong but doesn't Charlotte have two RC's now? Geez.

                      1. re: southernitalian
                        lynnlato Dec 5, 2007 11:50 AM

                        Yeah, very thorough analysis (for lack of a better word). It just reinforced why I don't dine at those high end steakhouses. Except MacIntosh's... I find that place refreshingly old school. But not in a dusty way!

                        Yeah, we have a RC uptown and one in Southpark now. Enough already w/ the steakhouses!

                        1. re: southernitalian
                          Suzy Q Feb 2, 2008 09:49 AM

                          And Raleigh is about to get our second RC location. Oh joy. When it comes to chain steakhouses, I'd much rather see us get a Capital Grille, Morton's, Fleming's, or The Palm here. We do have a Sullivan's, which isn't bad, but is waaaay "old boys' club" for my tastes.

                          Luckily, the Triangle also has some great independent steak places - Angus Barn, Prime Only, 1705, Nana's, and JK's, to name a few.

                          1. re: Suzy Q
                            b
                            big1515 Feb 8, 2008 12:03 PM

                            I ate @ the Angus Barn 40 years ago when I was a kid ..I remember the cobble stone flood and the Great steaks .The side dishes were also outstanding ..as I recall not far from the air port ..If it is there for 50 years it must be doing something right

                      2. s
                        smartie Dec 5, 2007 06:53 PM

                        We have a RC in Boca RAton, Fl, I have yet to have a bad meal there. the service is always fantastic, the steaks great, their stuffed chicken amazing and I do not let ANYONE share my creamed spinach.

                        1. sparkalina Dec 6, 2007 06:32 AM

                          What a timely post! I went last night and out of 4 diners, 3 steaks were overcooked! 2 were their "Kobe-Style" ribeyes @ $65/ea! We asked the manager who the heck was in the kitchen if they can afford to over cook pricy meat like that!

                          When all was said & done...3 martinis, 6 beers, 4 mixed drinks, 1 wine, 2 Kobes, 1 veal chop, 1 filet, 2 potatoes, 1 spinach, 1 mushrooms, 2 banana cream pie, 3 coffees, 2 baileys.........$0 dollars. And it was not even comforting because we were all still hungry and disappointed.

                          I fed a Kobe steak TO MY DOG when I got home! She liked it....

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: sparkalina
                            SweetPea Dec 6, 2007 08:23 AM

                            $0 dollars? Am I misunderstanding you?

                            1. re: SweetPea
                              sparkalina Dec 6, 2007 10:25 AM

                              Nope, after talking with the manager about how dissappointed with the food we have been for the past 2 visits, he asked what he could do to make up for it. We said 'nothing' and that we would not be back. He said he would take the steaks off the bill and the couple that we were with told him to "Let your conscience be your guide." After dessert (which we were fully intending to pay for the whole meal) the manager said it was on the house! If he would have said that after the entree portion we NEVER would have ordered dessert and coffee. We would have just left. But as we were just trying to make the best of a horrible dinner, we ordered dessert. The caramelized banana cream pie was great, BTW.

                            2. re: sparkalina
                              b
                              big1515 Feb 8, 2008 12:05 PM

                              was anybody drunk !!

                            3. coney with everything Dec 6, 2007 06:45 AM

                              Well, the holiday party was fun, the food was OK. We were a group of 20 in our own room with a limited banquet menu. Apps and sides were "family style"...yeah, if you're a family of Weight Watchers!

                              Apps were crab stuffed mushrooms and osso bucco ravioli. Tasty but not even one per person, and we were even short one from the planned number.

                              I had a ribeye, done exactly as I wanted, and very tasty. Others were also satisfied with their steaks and entrees.

                              Sides: broccoli was naked and barely blanched. I suppose it's healthy, but if I'm eating crudites, I want ranch dip too! Mashed potatoes were OK, pasta au gratin wasn't bad albeit salty, salads were a nice spring mix with a balsamic vinaigrette and not overdressed.

                              I had bread pudding for dessert which was dry and too sweet. The other choice was chocolate sin cake, much better but very rich.

                              Good Washington state wines--Hogue vineyards.

                              Service was outstanding.

                              Summary: glad it wasn't my dime.

                              1. LilMsFoodie Jan 31, 2008 01:08 PM

                                We had a perfectly wretched meal at the Ruth's Chris in Bonita Springs, FL. I should have known something was up when I made a same day reservation in "season". Last year there was a two-three week wait.

                                I ordered a prosecco apertif and my boyfriend ordered a beer. The prosecco barely filled half the glass, this was no great burgundy requiring room to breathe <G> It was also flat. The server brought a second one that was only slightly chilled, underfilled and still flat.

                                We ordered a t bone and a filet. Neither was cooked to our specifications and the t-bone could barely be sawed with the knife. Barebones presentation. Definitely not aged beef. Someone is cutting corners.

                                Baked potato for him with a flaccid skin, almost as if it were microwaved. I ordered the special peas of the day. "Petit Pois" were barely thawed and had a variation of cheez whiz on them.

                                Bread was undoubtedly pepperidge farm. We had a bottle of Parducci Pinot Noir which is bottled for them. Nice wine but it was way too warm. No cellar temperature here, more like Florida trunk temperature. Had to be 75 degrees. We decided not to complain but I wrote the company via their website and had a reply wanting to call me to apologize. No thanks. I would not want to return.

                                After I mentioned this on Fodors, it appears that my experience is similar to others. LilMsFoodie.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: LilMsFoodie
                                  sparkalina Feb 1, 2008 07:00 AM

                                  I think both of the Ruth Chris here in SW FL have something missing! Why is it that when restaurants move in to Naples they think they can skimp on quality? We are too old to notice? Or just have too much money to worry about it?

                                  * I am in neither of those catagories but that is the "norm" in Naples!

                                  1. re: sparkalina
                                    Suzy Q Feb 2, 2008 09:52 AM

                                    Sparkalina, my folks live in Destin, FL which is a big tourist destination in the Panhandle. Whenever they visit a restaurant, they make it a point to speak to the server/manager after the meal and let them know that if was good, they are locals and will be back. Unfortunately so many restos in tourist areas are happy with making money off of diners ONCE, and don't worry about consistency.

                                2. p
                                  Pstacooker Feb 2, 2008 06:28 AM

                                  First time here, fairly new to Boca Raton. Great website this ChowHound...just found out about it.

                                  I've eaten in most all of the chains mentioned here around the country, always hated that Ruths Chris' steaks came out on that sizzling platter which is nothing more than butter on a hot sizzle plate. It seems that Mortons has always been the most consistent around the country but recently have been wowed by Flemings Steakhouse in Newport Beach, CA and their great wine list. (I believe that Flemings BTW was created by Paul Fleming, same guy who also started PF Changs, PF=Paul Fleming)

                                  Seems to me that every celebrity chef in the country is now opening a steakhouse concept, each trying to outdo the other...for me it's salt, pepper, maybe a little rub of garlic and oil and broil baby! Seems pretty easy to me!

                                  Recently had a steak here in Boca at NY Prime and thought it was great. Loved the friendliness of the staff, especially the Maitre'D Johnny G!

                                  --Pstacooker

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Pstacooker
                                    s
                                    smartie Feb 5, 2008 08:50 AM

                                    I live in Delray and have to say the RC in Boca is fantastic - never never had a bad meal there. Maybe, like anywhere else, there are good and well run chain outlets and bad ones.

                                    1. re: Pstacooker
                                      b
                                      big1515 Feb 8, 2008 12:10 PM

                                      Pstacooker:
                                      You mentioned NY Prime .I ate in one Myrtle Beach and the steak was as good as it get ,the sevice was over the top .. a bit pricey ,but you get what you pay for ..I wish one would come to my part of Jersey because we sure need one ..

                                    2. m
                                      mikefoody Feb 5, 2008 12:00 PM

                                      I don't know anyone who considers Ruth Chris among the best steak houses in Houston. It has to be said, we have a handful of truly superb local offerings plus it's Houston - even the locals barely want to be here - so very few tourist diners. Given the strong local competition and the fact it's all repeat business, the other chains do seem to be on their game though - Fleming's, Morton's, Vic & Anthony's and Smith & Wollinsky are all well liked.

                                      Also, when I pay $100-$150 for dinner at one of these steakhouses, I expect absolute perfection. I mean really, there's zero creativity in the menu and preparation. The only thing I'm paying for is well prepared simple dishes and a quite expensive piece of meat that's theoretically better than what I can get from my butcher (oh and a 1,500 degree oven - I don't have that either). If the food and service isn't great, I'm not happy.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: mikefoody
                                        lrostron Feb 6, 2008 08:21 AM

                                        Chiming in from the West coast with a question ... we have a RCSH in Roseville, which is outside of Sacramento, and it's located in a mall ... albeit the area's "upscale" mall, but why on earth would you want to deal with mall parking (there is a valet service, but it's hours are limited, again, this is Sacramento and the residents either don;t get it or are too cheap to use it) and a view of either the parking lot or the interior of the mall and its foot traffic for dinner? I don't understand the concept.

                                      2. a
                                        apb1235 Jun 28, 2008 12:18 PM

                                        I don't know about the Boston Ruth's Chris but I have eaten at the ones in Atlanta and absolutely love them. I have never had any problem with the filets. The halibut is wonderful also. I prefer the sauteed spinach. The crabtini is a winner. The severs are very knowledgeable. I usually have no room for dessert but sometimes I split the dense chocolate cake. I was told they use Calbaut Belgian chocolate. Sinfully rich but worth the calories! French press coffee to top it off.

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