Yes, I avoid chains, for the most part. I do love a Chipotle lunch (especially if I’m on the road– I know the caloric count of my favorite bowl, and their business practices and ingredient choices leave me feeling slightly good), and because of my line of work, I often end up at some of the higher end chains: think Capital Grille, Cameron Mitchell restaurants, or Ruth’s Chris.
Ruth’s Chris Steak House is a pretty familiar steak house brand: they’re in most major cities, and are known for their sizzling steaks and the odd name (Ruth Fertel owned Chris Steak House, which burned down in the 70s. Her contract prohibited her from using the name Chris Steak House at any address other than the original, so Ruth’s Chris Steak House was born. She was a single, divorced mother, no less, and it was pretty unusual for a woman (single or not!) to own a steak house at the time). What I did not know about Ruth’s Chris is that they have a pretty stellar cocktail menu. Most upscale steak places focus exclusively on wine lists, and maybe serve a Manhattan or a Cosmopolitan. Ruth’s Chris’ Helen Mackey, the Senior Director of Menu Strategy at Ruth’s Hospitality Group,
developed the Vintage Cocktail list, and for this restaurant that originated in New Orleans, it’s a perfect fit. I had the opportunity to try several of these cocktails at the Ruth’s Chris location on the Banks. My favorites were the Sparkling Pear Julep (made with vodka and not bourbon– untraditional, yes, but delicious and served in beautiful julep cups), Ruth’s Sazerac, which is simply a perfectly executed Sazerac, one of the iconic drinks of New Orleans and a perfect accompaniment to a steak. I also liked the blackberry smash, which is a good choice for someone who likes drinks on the sweeter side, but for those of us who don’t, it wasn’t cloying– very well-balanced. The bartender was also extremely knowledgeable– we had a great conversation about bitters and the changing palates of diners towards less-sweet drinks.
The best thing I discovered? Ruth’s Chris has a killer happy hour. I don’t know about you, but Happy Hour is one of my favorite times to grab a drink and a bite with friends. Steak houses often have good ones, but Ruth’s Chris’ was a pleasant surprise. Several items are available for $7– ones that are normally much more expensive. Of the drinks, I’d go for the Moscow Mule, and nibble on the Spicy Lobster (tempura-fried lobster in a spicy sauce) or the Steak Sandwich, which is more than enough for dinner. Happy Hour (4:30-7:30) is only available at the bar, and you will definitely see me back, enjoying a cocktail and a bite with friends or The Better Half.
In chatting with the GM, I also discovered that because Ruth’s Chris Steak House was founded by a woman, they are continuing the support of woman-focused non-profits. They’re currently supporting 85 Broads, and are really interested in finding more female-oriented non-profits around the city.
(Ruth’s Chris Steak House provided me with the opportunity to sample these cocktails and appetizers, but the opinions are my own.)