Friday, April 13 2012 00:23

Ruth’s Chris Steak House is Not Worth the Price

By  John Cullen with Marty Shayt

We wanted to treat a friend to a birthday dinner, and she selected the Ruth's Chris Steak House in Pikesville. Though situated in a modern business office complex, the five dining rooms have a posh traditional feel with lots of dark wood, muted colors and tables decked out in heavy white linens spaced nicely part. While we're used to upscale restaurants, Ruth's Chris' menu prices raised our eyebrows. With most entrées priced $35 to $50 (and vegetables at $8 or more not included), the menu induced acute sticker shock. (There are no prices on their online menu nor does the actual menu provide the weight for the pricey steaks.) Starter soups and side salads ranged from $8 to $11 and a handful of appetizers ranged from $13 to $18.

 

Marty and our friend split a Caesar salad while John had a spinach salad. Our friend ordered the petite filet ($36), John opted for the New York strip steak ($42), and Marty decided on a special, mahi mahi with shrimp ($37). We decided to share an order of asparagus with hollandaise ($9) and garlic mashed potatoes ($8). The salads were good with large portions allowing for sharing; Marty liked the anchovies on the side that he had requested. Oddly, the staff started placing the entrees and veggies on the table without first clearing off the salad plates.

The entrées arrived on unusually small, un-garnished plates with no room for our vegetables. Our friend was pleased with her filet, but John was less than pleased that his steak arrived closer to medium well than the medium rare he requested (he's also bought $10 supermarket steaks that were tenderer and were better than his $42 Ruth's Chris steak). Marty's special was visually attractive with a comparatively large portion of fish and shrimp and it proved as good as it looked. A dozen stalks of asparagus were cooked nicely al dente but came with very small container of hollandaise (for $9, why skimp?). The mashed potatoes were at best average; neither arrived with serving spoons. An empty bread basket was never refilled. Curiously for such an upscale place, our waiter slipped the contents into boxes in front of us and left them awkwardly un-bagged on the table. After we turned down the offer for $5-per-person French press coffee service, the waiter brought a complimentary piece of chocolate cake for our friend's birthday (though he never asked her preference, and she never eats chocolate cake). The waiter also never asked us whether we wanted dessert and instead just brought us the bill.

Despite appreciating the casually elegant dining rooms, ultra high prices for a meal (which seemed more average than outstanding) and the dubious service left us wondering why Ruth's Chris seems so popular.

Afterwards, we concluded there are other restaurants with better food and service—and that offer better value for the dollar. ■

Ruth's Chris Steakhouse
1777 Reisterstown Rd. • Pikesville
410.837.0033 • RuthsChris.com
Open 7 days for dinner
Full bar • Very few vegetarian options

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