Making Memories at Ruth’s Chris

Ruth's Chris is its own field of dreams

Wednesday, April 30, 2014 | 4:58 am

A great steak at Ruth's Chris steak house.

(This review of the  venerable Ruth’s Chris Steak House was written during April, 2014′s Restaurant Week. It rings as true now, as it did then.) 

You drive by it constantly. You look over at your passenger, you both acknowledge it, someone makes a little joke, you nod, you sigh, but the feeling is distinct: We’re gonna go eat there someday. Someday soon.

Our someday came last Friday during Restaurant Week, and it was as memorable as I , for one, had hoped.

Ruth’s Chris Steak House on Colorado is your classic white tablecloth, good china special occasion place. Couples coo in corners, someone sings “Happy Birthday,” servers walk quietly, and another memory is made. That most of the servers and management are women is another thing to like, but we are getting ahead of ourselves. Spoiling dinner, so to speak.

So let’s talk dinner. Ours began with a rich and sumptuous lobster mac and cheese. It was as if someone said, “How can I make this classic comfort food just a little more cozy?” Add rich chunks of lobster everywhere into it, and bake it in the oven perhaps. It’s the kind of meal you lie to your kids about. “Oh, you wouldn’t like this, Scooter. It’s for grown-ups!”

I know this: it produced a sigh from my dining companion so deep, so primal, so sinful, that strangers walking along the boulevard had to have visibly shuddered. Then came the steaks: a petite filet and a ribeye; each served with only a little butter and sea salt. No steak sauce to be found anywhere, and none considered. Add to that dream a serving of garlic mashed potatoes, and it felt like graduation.

The knives glided through the steaks like jets through clouds at cruising altitude, and it was only through severe restraint that either of those steaks made it home in a paper bag. Dessert was a caramelized banana cream cake.I’ll just describe it, and then get out of your way. A pool of white chocolate filled with fresh banana pieces in a puff pastry, and topped with caramelized sugar, like creme bruleé. Our server, Karla, giggled like a schoolchild when we ordered it. A good sign.

Oh yes, woman servers and management. Ruth’s Chris Steak House was born in 1965 when Ruth Fertel bought a New Orleans steak house for $18,000 and sixteen hour work days. When a fire in 1976 destroyed that location, she built a new one four blocks away, calling it “Ruth’s” Chris Steak House to let customers know it was the same restaurant, but with a new sheriff in town. Clearly the primarily female staff at the Pasadena location (one of 130 worldwide), carries on in the same fine tradition.

And let’s talk about restaurant week. Here’s the Prix Fixe lineup through Friday: It’s $44 and it’s a choice of steak house salad, Caesar Salad, or shrimp cocktail to start. There are severalentree choices: Petite filet, Crab Cake Oscar or Cajun Shrimp; a 12 oz. Ribeye or garlic-crusted sea bass. For sides, there are mashed potatoes, creamed spinach, sauteed mushrooms, or fresh steamed broccoli. Dessert is a pairing of toasted coconut and pineapple bread pudding with Macadamia Chocolate Bark.

Ruth’s Chris Steak House. You’ve seen it. You’ve thought about it. You’ve dreamed. Go.  

Ruth’s Chris Steak House is at 369 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena.(626) 583-8122. www.ruthschris.com

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