[Entertainment District] Ruth’s Chris Steak House
I love Urbanspoon. It is one of my favourite sites to use when I am looking for restaurant reviews. It is also the site I first visit after dining in a new restaurant, just so that I can vote whether I like it or not. Having said that, I was baffled by the bad reviews for Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Toronto. I don’t typically like chain restaurants, but Ruth’s Chris is an exception. I feel like I have to share my experience to somehow counteract the negative reviews.
The original “Christ Steak House” was opened in 1927 by Chris Matulich in New Orleans. Thirty-eight years later, Ruth Fertel purchased the restaurant from Chris. In 1976, a kitchen fire erupted and destroyed the original restaurant. Ruth bought a new property near the original location. Since her contract with Chris precluded her from using the name “Christ Steak House” in a different location, she re-named the restaurant “Ruth’s Chris Steak House.” Business continued to thrive after that and the first franchise was opened in the same year. The rest is history. Ruth’s Chris just celebrated its 45th anniversary in 2010!
Located at the corner of University Ave and Richmond St, Ruth’s Chris is not difficult to find as it is attached to Hilton Hotel. I find it strange that it is located underground and you have to take the elevator down to access the restaurant.
Somehow I managed to forget to take a picture of the interior of the restaurant during BOTH of my visits. I find the atmosphere to resemble Wolfgang’s Steakhouse in NYC. The dark wood, leather, dim lighting, white table linens, men in business suits… I wonder if all more “upscale” steakhouses have this classic power scene ambiance. Ruth’s Chris also smelled like Wolfgang’s – the unmistakeable aroma of “steak cooking with butter.” Hmmmm…
During our first visit, we shared the calamari as appetizer and shared the Porterhouse steak for 2.
The calamari is lightly fried and tossed with a sweet and spicy Thai chili sauce. The calamari itself tasted great. The batter was deep fried to a satisfying crisp and the calamari was still tender. I really disliked the Thai chili sauce as it really lacked depth in flavour. It was spicy but did not have the sweetness I like in a Thai chili sauce. I kind of wished the sauce was on the side! Charles loved the sauce and happily ate all the calamari “contaminated” with the sauce.
All the steaks at Ruth’s Chris are hand cut on the premises and broiled at a searing 1800 degrees Fahrenheit to lock in the flavour and juices. The steak is then served on a hot and sizzling plate with lots of butter… just like how the steak is served at Wolfgang’s.
Our Porterhouse came hot and sizzling. It was cooked to a prefect medium rare. There was a lot of butter on plate but it tasted amazing. The meat was super tender and seasoned very nicely. Although not quite as good as Wolfgang’s, the tenderness of this melt-in-your-mouth Porterhouse was pretty fantastic.
There was so much steak we actually could not finish all of it. It was nice to enjoy more steak later that night. We also got more bread as our server forgot to give us our bread…
Our first dining experience at Ruth’s Chris was very enjoyable and satisfying. Although we did not get our bread and the calamari was not that good, we can’t really complain about anything else. We went there for some good steak and we got what we wanted.
We went back for the second time a few weeks later. We got there really early and was just in time for the “happy hour” or special menu. I think it was $60 for an appetizer, an entrée with a side, and dessert.
I had the lobster bisque and it was quite good. The bisque had big pieces of lobster inside and I was happy about that. The bisque was creamy and had the lobster sweetness in it. It was not as good as the lobster bisque from Lobster Royale, but Ruth’s Chris does not specialize in lobster!
Charles had the salad and it was decent.
I *think* we both ordered the filet, but I could be wrong. I just remembered that both of our steaks were cooked really nicely, but for sure not as tender and juicy as the Porterhouse steak.
We ordered mashed potato and mushrooms as our sides. The mashed potato was very creamy and smooth. The mushrooms tasted kind of bland.
I had the dark chocolate cake or mousse and Charles had the pecan crusted cheesecake for dessert. My mousse was very rich and smooth, but a little too dense for my taste. Charles said his cheesecake was really creamy and he enjoyed the nutty pecan crust.
We were served by the same server the second time and he actually remembered us. Contrary to some of the reviews I’ve read, the service at Ruth’s Chris was really courteous and not snobby at all. The steaks were cooked perfectly and the dining environment was very quiet, comfortable, and romantic. If you are looking for some melt-in-your-mouth, good quality big slab of steak, Ruth’s Chris is definitely worth a visit.