Ruth’s Chris is a large, upscale chain of steakhouses with three locations in Atlanta. This weekend we visited the Centennial Park location, inside the Embassy Suites hotel. Valet parking is the norm in the city, and can be found at the front entrance of the hotel on Marietta Street. Parking is normally $14 for the first three hours, but with a validated ticket from the restaurant that number is cut in half.
On the opposite side of the valet entrance to the hotel’s foliage-filled lobby is where you’ll find the restaurant.
I need to mention that the purpose of this dining experience was to take some friends out to dinner. Due to that reason, along with some other service issues, I had some trouble photographing a lot of the food in the manner that I usually prefer. I had to rush through some shots, and missed others. Another issue I had was that despite the look of this very exposed photo, the dining room was very dark. This was the darkest restaurant I have experienced since beginning these reviews.
Because the dining room was so dark, it gave a very formal feel. The lights of the city outside were more visible, including the newly opened ferris wheel. We were in one of at least three dining rooms that I saw, plus a bar area.
Prices here are high, and it follows a fine dining concept of itemizing every dish, including sides that are ordered separately. Page one has appetizers and soups, with salads on the bottom.
The next page has the steaks. The bottom includes some compliments to your entrée. Two of these are sauces, and two are essentially smaller side items that can be added to your main protein.
Then we have the non-steak entrées, potatoes, and vegetables, all ordered separately. The potatoes and vegetables appear a little pricy at first, but they are actually larger servings that contain enough for two people by most upscale dining standards.
The last page offers my favorite course, dessert. You can also order your dessert coffees from here.
I only got one quick photo of the bread after it was delivered. My guests insisted that I get my photos, but I felt bad making them wait while the bread cooled. There were two loaves of a fairly standard sourdough in the basket. The bread was actually very hot, and soft inside. As usual, the cup of butter included wasn’t enough to cover the amount of bread so we had to go light. This was made up in the second basket which had the cupped filled with plenty to go around.
I ordered two appetizers, of which my wife ate about a third of each. This first order was the $15.00 Veal Osso Buco Ravioli. The filling is made from veal shanks which are braised with vegetables, white wine, and broth. In this case it was ground up and filled into saffron-infused ravioli, and topped with fresh mozzarella cheese. It comes with “sauteed baby spinach and a white demi-glace.”
At first I wondered what I had ordered for an appetizer that was covered in sugar. Then I remembered the menu and realized it was gratings of cheese. There was enough cheese to really taste the difference in flavor in every bite. The demi-glace was not as noticeable, but I’m sure it offered a flavor that was infused and created the overall taste.
The inside contained the veal, and again it was more than enough that it wasn’t missed. Many restaurants are stingy with their ravioli fillings, but these were stuffed full.
The spinach was not very flavorful to me, but my wife (who ate the majority of it) said it was good. I personally thought it tasted mostly of just spinach, which I’ve never been a big fan of, so I’m probably not the person to give an opinion on this particular food.
My next pick was the $15.00 Crabtini. This traditional “seafood in a martini glass” appetizer had crab meat tossed in their house vinaigrette, sitting on a bed of shredded lettuce. It is then covered in a creole remoulade sauce and garnished with a lettuce leaf. A mesh covered lemon is included on the plate for personal seasoning.
The Crabtini had a fantastic flavor. The creole remoulade was very tasty, and blended so well with the crab.
Other diced ingredients I saw included tomatoes, red and yellow pepper, red onion, and one item that I could clearly taste with every forkful was cilantro. I would certainly order this again.
I ordered a Ruth’s Chop Salad, which included many ingredients, so I’ll quote the menu. “Julienne iceberg lettuce, spinach, and radicchio tossed with red onions, mushrooms, green olives, bacon, eggs, hearts of palm, croutons, blue cheese and lemon basil dressing. Served with grape tomatoes and topped with crispy fried onions” for $9.50.
Presentation was nice. The salad was placed in a cylindrical tower with the crispy onions sitting on top. The tomatoes were placed on the side as an edible garnish.
There were a lot of ingredients present here, but they were chopped very fine, almost minced. The majority of them were difficult to distinguish individually, which could be a good or bad thing, depending on your personal tastes. I never tasted or saw any egg, bacon, mushroom, olive, or croutons, but maybe they were so finely blended into the mix that they helped create the final flavor without standing out on their own. Regardless, it was was nothing like what I expected.
The crispy onions were definitely noticeable, and really helped boost the taste. They had the usual sapidity that you’d expect from fried onions. I feel they made the dish much better than it would have been without them. As my dining partner mentioned, “you can’t ever go wrong with crispy onions.”
I assume these green drops on the side are the lemon basil dressing, although I wonder why the remainder of the salad wasn’t more green. Perhaps this is just the basil portion of the dressing that is later mixed with the lemon half, which is then poured on the salad.
After opening up the cylinder, I found it looked exactly the same on the inside. It had a coleslaw look, with a bunch of shredded lettuce covered in a whitish colored sauce.
I was looking forward to the many ingredients available but was slightly disappointed with the lack of the individual flavors. It was good, but nothing more without the onions. Those helped to give it an extra point. I suppose I was expecting a more traditional salad with the egg, bacon, and other items clearly laid on top. What I got was an almost uniform flavor salad throughout. It didn’t taste bad, just below expectations.
One of the items I didn’t get a chance to photograph was my wife’s salad due to the first and second course being delivered practically back to back. There was so much food in front of us at one time, she understandably didn’t want to hold off eating while waiting on me to photograph everything. Luckily she only ate half before passing it over to me to finish. This was now MY share of the $8.00 Harvest Salad.
This was a much more traditional looking mixed greens salad with roasted corn, dried cherries, bacon and tomato. It’s finished with a white balsamic vinegar dressing and topped with goat cheese and Cajun pecans.
I enjoyed this salad much more than my own. With a clear taste of the pecans and cheese, there were distinct flavors mixed with the familiar texture of leaves covered in dressing. I actually liked the look of this when ordering, but when she chose it, I wanted to order something different so we’d have a variety of foods to try. I should have stuck with my initial instinct.
I have been ordering a filet as my choice of steak for the last ten years. I felt it was time to try something a little different for once, and had read that the porterhouse is also a big favorite of steak connoisseurs. The porterhouse combines the filet and another upper level steak category, the NY strip, into one serving. Ruth’s Chris offers a Porterhouse for Two for $87.00. The large helping of steak is served at the table on one plate. Two smaller plates, heated to a very high temperature and pooled with a seasoned, melted butter at the bottom are placed in front of the two individuals sharing the steak. The Porterhouse is pre-cut into pieces of two or three bites each, but kept in its original shape. After being set on the table, the server takes a couple of those pieces and places them on each individual’s hot plate, causing them to instantly sizzle in the near boiling butter solution.
Due to the unique way this dish is served I didn’t want to delay the server by taking photos, so I have none of the 40oz porterhouse that was brought to the table. The photo above shows the initial two pre-cut pieces that were placed on my personal plate, one piece from the filet side, the other from the strip side. My wife initially got two identical pieces of steak. I later served her one more of the filet pieces before she called it quits and I happily finished the rest of the porterhouse.
While my artificially lit (the first time in this blog) photo doesn’t show it well, the steak was perfectly cooked to my medium-rare request. I believe this piece, along with the one seen next to it, had spent some time with the pictured sides face down on my plate as I tried to find a good angle for my shot. This short time on the plate added cooking time that made them look a little closer to medium temperature. I assure you that the remaining pieces were a deep red color. The filet was probably the softest steak I have ever been served. The NY strip shown here was almost as soft as most of the filets I normally get elsewhere.
I hate to make this claim since this is probably the highest end steakhouse I’ve been to, but I believe this steak may have been the best I’ve ever had. The filet really was the most tender I’ve ever experienced, and adding the hot melted butter from my plate just put it over the top. I don’t recall ever ordering a NY strip so I have no comparison to base it off, but it was very tender and taking away the bits of tendons and fat that come with a strip, it was nearly the same as many of my filets from the past. It tasted great, but essentially seemed to be a filet with some parts being difficult to impossible to chew due to those tendon and fat areas. In the future I may just stick with my old favorite, the filet, but would also like to compare a ribeye and NY strip together to see what I think. Regardless, this was one heck of a steak dinner.
Of course, I needed sides with my meal, so I ordered the $8.50 Au Gratin Potatoes and the $9.00 Asparagus with Hollandaise to compliment the steak. The asparagus was well cooked. Firm, yet easily cut, it appeared fresh. By itself, it could pass as a side for one, but there’s also enough that when a second side is introduced they can easily be shared.
The hollandaise came in a separate cup which I emptied onto the vegetables.
It has been over a decade since I’ve last had this sauce. I used to eat it as a child to mask the dislikable taste of asparagus. Today I’m more forgiving of trying new things, including those that are healthy, but I still enjoy additional sauces and other seasonings to spice up my food. The hollandaise did not taste like what I had remembered from years ago. It definitely added a nice flavor to the asparagus, but did not make me finish the vegetable that much faster.
The hollandaise was a thicker sauce that clung to the asparagus. I felt it was mild, and not as buttery as I’d hoped for.
I’ve never had potatoes au gratin like this before. Rather than have a light, creamy cheese mixed in with the potatoes, this dish had a layer of solid, melted cheese over the top. Just like nachos, you could taste the distinct flavor of the melted cheese with each bite, as opposed to just a cheesy flavored potato. I thought it was quite amazing.
The menu says it’s a three cheese sauce. I don’t know what the three cheeses were, but it looked to be two white cheeses and an orange cheese, most likely cheddar. There was still cheese mixed into the rest of the dish, giving it the expected creaminess throughout, but that heavy melted layer on top really put this a step above the norm.
I was really impressed with the potato side, and this au gratin style is another food I hadn’t had since childhood. I reluctantly agreed to share a couple bites with both my wife and one of my dining partners. For a side dish, I was pleasantly surprised.
Spoiler alert! Another first for my reviews, and it will probably shock you. Tonight I was not able to finish my meal. You are about to see why.
My first dessert order was the $9.00 Warm Apple Crumb Tart. When I picture a tart, I think of something along the lines of this recent dessert from The Olde Pink House in Savannah. I was a little surprised when this small pie was placed in front of me. Yes, that is a full, large scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.
The tart was made from Granny Smith apples and “baked in a flaky pastry.” The pastry really was as advertised. It was sweet and flaky as a proper butter-based pastry should be. It had the same texture as the bottom layer of a pie crust. Firm enough to hold the tart together, but soft enough to crumble under light pressure from your fork. There was cinnamon abound, and this common combination with apple was fantastically proportionate. There was the maximum amount without going overboard.
The streusel crust was not the normal full coverage that one generally sees on pies. It was light and sporadic, but definitely still noticeable enough. The apple and pastry created enough of a texture difference that I wasn’t bothered by the lack of crust on top. I do love a streusel crust though, and would have been very happy to have seen more. The tart is garnished by a mint leaf and as mentioned earlier, topped with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream.
My only complaint was that the tart was not very warm. While I’m sensitive to food being too hot (both spice and temperature), and hate having to wait for a treat to cool while the ice cream on top melts, in this case the tart was nowhere near hot. It was warm, but barely. It was just warm enough to still be very good, but could have been near perfect if heated a bit more.
As the ice cream did begin to melt, I was treated with a semi-warm/cold mix of vanilla ice cream and a gooey, sweet, cinnamon flavored soup combined with a chunky apple and buttery pastry pie. It was a superb dessert, and generous in size for the price, especially for a high end restaurant.
After eating the larger than expected tart, I would normally be feeling like it would be difficult, but possible to finish a typical $8.00 slice of Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake. Unfortunately, my next and last dessert was also not what I expected.
This monster is what they call cheesecake? The tower of mousse stood high, and almost couldn’t stand up on its own.
The mousse sat on top of an Oreo® cookie type base. If there were a complaint, it’s that the cookie base was very thin, and because of the amount of mousse on top, most bites contained none of the cookie bottom. When they did, the mousse overpowered the base.
Next to the mousse was a pile of whipped cream, Actually no, I’m disappointed to report it was Cool Whip®. Another surprise from a high end restaurant using a cheap whipped cream knockoff. I don’t understand it, but it seems to happen more often than I would have thought. The fake cream was garnished with a mint leaf and a chocolate wafer cookie. The entire dessert was then drizzled with chocolate sauce.
The inside of this mountain was just pure chocolate mousse. It was a fantastic mousse too. It was sweet, chocolaty, and had a wonderfully light, whipped texture (you know, how real whipped cream might normally feel…). I really enjoyed the taste, and again was just shocked at the size of this dessert for only $8.00. This was half a meal in itself.
Alas, after eating a loaf of bread, almost one and a half appetizers, about two thirds of a 40oz porterhouse, two sides, and already one very large dessert, this was what remained of my Chocolate Mousse “Cheesecake.”
I wanted to finish, but it was just too much. Normally high end restaurants don’t offer such large portions, and these desserts in particular did me in. It by no means indicates that I didn’t like it.
Ruth’s Chris was overall an enjoyable experience. Their prices are very high, and truthfully seem too high for what you get. You may have noticed that I have avoided calling this fine dining. The atmosphere could probably pass, along with the pricing. What was lacking was the service and the food itself. The food was great, I thought everything was tasty. What was missing were the signature creations that usually come from a fine dining establishment’s own chef. These meals were great, but they were standard steakhouse meals. Steak, potatoes, vegetables, apple tarts and mousse. Nothing seemed to stand out as a creative thought from someone behind the scenes.
The service was lacking for our dinner. At first our appetizer and salad course came out almost together. We were barely half way through the appetizers before the salads were placed on the table, causing a pile of food to be everywhere. Then after the salads, there was a little delay for the steaks and sides to come out. We noticed towards the end of our meal that the couple next to us waited a very long time for their entrées as well. We joked with them that the staff must be out back preparing the cows for slaughter so they can be cooked up. Dessert came in a reasonable amount of time for us, but then the check took forever. We noticed when the server would show, he smelled of cigarette smoke, so we assumed the delay may have been due to his smoke breaks.
Other than my opinion of Ruth’s Chris lacking the fine dining environment, I still absolutely loved my meal. The steak was some of the best I’ve ever had, and overall the experience was a positive one. I do recommend dining here, and I certainly will return myself if the occasion arises again where I’m ready for a nice steak dinner. If ordering one item each off the menu categories (appetizers, salads, entrées, potato, vegetables, and desserts), just be ready to spend over $175 plus tax and tip for two people. For a steakhouse, this is about as high end as it gets for the average person, but it’s worth it to try at least once for a fantastic steak dinner.