Restaurant Review: Ruth’s Chris Garden City

25 Oct

When my Dad called me a few days ago and asked if I wanted to have a steak dinner this weekend my mouth began to water and I could already smell the butter sizzling on top of my Ruth’s Chris filet mignon.  One great thing about Long Island is that there is definitely not a shortage of great steakhouses – the there is a strip on the north shore that is lined with one on literally every corner.  I wasn’t in the mood for a production, and I was really craving their signature sizzling butter, so we decided that it would be Ruth’s Chris in Garden City.

When we arrived we were quickly and warmly greeted by the maitre d’ who began to show us to our table.  When the phone at the host stand rang she turned around and asked us to hold on.  While on the phone she handed the menus to a server who seated us.  The situation wasn’t off-putting, but it certainly wasn’t a stellar welcome that I would expect of such a highly-rated steakhouse.

We were greeted pretty quickly by our server.  He would prove to be very kind and certainly knowledgeable, but something about him didn’t click well with me.  He didn’t try to connect on a personal level.  It seemed to be strictly business.  Not once did he smile!  Technically he did a very respectable job, and he certainly wasn’t mean or rude, but on a personal level I didn’t feel that he made the attempt to connect to us as his guests.

I enjoyed his selling of the specials; for our appetizer we started with a barbecued shrimp scampi.  I didn’t really know what to expect because the two styles are very different in my mind.  He assured us that the shrimp were barbecued but not slathered in traditional bbq sauce – instead they were then sauteed, scampi style.  I was impressed with how quickly the five meaty tiger shrimp came out to our table.  My Dad took one and left four to me – heavenly!  The garlic butter sauce was proportioned excellently to the shrimp.  The problem I often face with shrimp scampi is that the sauce is far too overpowering for the meat; tonight’s dish mastered the delicate balance of the savory sauce and the meaty shrimp.

Barbecued Shrimp Scampi

The entree course was just as good-tasting as the appetizer.  I ordered a filet mignon and my Dad ordered a T-Bone, both cooked medium.  I really enjoyed our servers suggestive selling skills when we were ordering entrees – he suggested my Dad get his steak cooked medium instead of medium-well because the steaks were served on 500 degree plates so he could literally sear it a bit on the hot plate if he wanted it cooked further.  The steaks arrived a perfect temperature and were accompanied by a 1-pound baked potato and a dish of garlic mashed potatoes.  With the entrees I also had a glass of wine – a Spanish Tempranillo Rioja.  The flavor of both steaks was excellent.  As noted, Ruth’s Chris’s signature is serving all steaks on a very hot plate with butter sizzling on top.  The aroma I had hoped for filled our enclosed booth and created our own wonderful world of steak.  Eating it, tasting it, smelling it; the aura was magical, even if only for a minute or two.  I was very upset with the presentation of both steak dishes – as seen in the pictures below, they were simply strewn on the plate.  There was grease all over the rim of the plate and no side dishes to mask the running steak juices.  It did make up for that in flavor, though.  Additionally, the sides were great – two types of potatoes cooked with an equally tasty technique.  My wine was a perfect pairing to the steak: dark berries, plum, and dark chocolate.  It was well-structured and very tannic and held up well to the juicy steak.

Filet Mignon

T-Bone

After dinner was cleared and I was already over-stuffed, I thought what better way to relax than to enjoy a nice rich dessert?  I was impressed with their selections of after dinner drinks – it was a much more in depth menu than even their wine or cocktail lists.  Though I passed on having another drink, I did indulge in a warm apple crumb tart with vanilla bean ice cream.  The flavor was extraordinary – a beautiful pairing of Granny Smith apples, crumby crust, and refreshing ice cream.  Apple pie is one of my favorites, and though this was excellent in flavor, it was lacking identity.  I actually sat for what had to have been three minutes inspecting my dish before I took my first bite.  It almost looked like a purchased dessert.  By that I mean that it looked too perfect – maybe bought in bulk at Costco or BJ’s and microwaved for 30 seconds before being sent out to my table.  I highly doubt that is the case from such an established, well-regarded restaurant, but for me to even question that is a bit of a problem.

Warm Apple Crumb Tart with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Eat and Drink This!

If you’re going to Ruth’s Chris, you’re going for the steak.  I’m always a big fan of filet mignon, but if you want a challenge, go for the Porterhouse for 2.  Like most steakhouses, they serve this behemoth expecting their guests not to finish, so don’t eat lunch and come prepared!  Also,  if you’re a shrimp lover, you’ll be thrilled – though maybe not with the presentation – with the taste of the barbecued shrimp scampi dish.

Skip It

I was very upset with the beverage menu.  For such a well-known, established steakhouse, I would imagine the wine list to be phenomenal, there to be a selection of beers that pair well with their dishes, and a cocktail menu worth even mentioning.  They had none of that.  I was shocked to see Relax Riesling offered by the glass – one of my favorite, cheap rieslings to buy at my local wine shop for a Friday night at home with friends, but certainly not what I would expect at Ruth’s Chris.

Where To Sit & When To Go

I have been to this location quite a few times and have always sat in the main dining room.  I was never a fan of the main dining room because it was carpeted and open and too living-room-esque.  Today we sat adjacent to the bar in a secluded booth for two.  Great place to bring a date, have a business meeting, or even have a great steak with a friend or family member.   The booths were very versatile and could be a good setting for many types of occasions, so if you’re a party of two, I would certainly recommend checking it out.  In terms of when to go, Sunday night at 6:30pm was fairly crowded, so unless you have a reservation, I would recommend going on a week night.  If you’re an OpenTable user, book a 1,000 Point table on Sunday-Wednesday.

Special Events

I didn’t dive too far into this, but on my way to the bathroom I did see that they have a fairly large private dining room which would be excellent for corporate events, holiday parties, or even upscale, large family gatherings.

Overall

Both my Dad and I enjoyed myself at Ruth’s Chris.  The food and wine were very tasty.  The main bone of contention that I have is that the restaurant felt ‘corporate’ to me.  It was present in our interaction with the server, with the maitre d’, and with the manager.  About 3/4 of the way through our entrees the manager came to ask if we had enjoyed our meal.  Her coming to our table felt very forced, very unnatural.  It was by no means smooth, and she too did not smile at us.  It was as if she was trained at corporate HQ that she had to touch tables – as well she should – but her execution and intent seemed to lack a genuine, personal touch.

Rating

An overall very good experience.  37 points.  2 Stars.


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One Response to “Restaurant Review: Ruth’s Chris Garden City”

  1. Father October 27, 2010 at 4:31 pm #

    Excellent review. I enjoyed reading it. It’s almost like I was there, dipping my perfectly-done Tbone into the sweet, vinegar based non-tomato BBQ sauce.

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