(From our archives) I was scheduled to have a business lunch in Baton Rouge today, but the restaurant that I was told to go to was closed for lunch. So I off-handedly suggested “Ruth’s Chris,” really because I don’t know B.R. at all, but had seen an outlet of this New Orleans founded chain along the Interstate.
I guess I have been going to Ruth’s for about ten years, tho I am not a habitual patron like some people I know – certainly not like the loyalists here in Ruth’s home town of N’awlins.
But I’ve been to them in Chicago, Minneapolis, San Francisco, LA, Hong Kong, Detroit, and perhaps a few other cities.
They are always the same. And that, in itself, is enough of a reason for me to keep returning.
Among “national” competitors, I would say Ruth’s has more than a few: Smith and Wollensky’s, The Palm, Morton’s; and of course there are one-offs which are equal in quality. Of the three I mentioned, I like the Palm the best (even better than Ruth’s), I’m not really sure why – “better service” would be my initial impression. In Los Angeles, the Palm is one of the prime “deal making” restaurants. I’ve been to their outlets there, Dallas, Vegas, and Chicago. Always consistent, as well.
But I have a fondness for Ruth’s. Maybe that’s present because I had the pleasure of meeting some of the founding family members here in N’awlins, tho Ms. Ruth passed away a year or so ago, and the chain has not been owned by the family for some years.
While it’s a steakhouse, in the pure sense of the word, they often have a few non-beef entrees, which is nice for accompanying guests that are eschewing (as opposed to chewing) beef.
Curiously, after the “mad cow” scare last fall, steakhouse revenue numbers in the U.S. were dramatically up during the 4th quarter. And I don’t think those numbers came from chicken.
A steak snob would order something other than a petite filet, which is always my choice, as rare as they can make it, which is somewhat of a challenge at Ruth’s, since they cook at 1500 degrees. Still they accomplish it, and their beef is always flavorful and very tender, tho I have been told by some chefs that Ruth’s “secret ingredient” is copious amounts of salt.
Their BBQ shrimp appetizer isn’t half-bad, and a way I can “stay in touch” with my New Orleans cuisine preferences when I am traveling.
Starch-wise, I’d prefer if they would offer “Potatoes Brabant” which you find at many local steakhouses here – but they don’t, so I “suffer” through their onion rings (which are just marvy) and usually a side of creamed spinach.
They don’t offer Chateaubriand, though they do have a “Porterhouse for Two” (which I have witnessed a single diner polish off on more than one occasion).
Dessert wise, they offer the New Orleans traditional favorites – crème brulee, and bread pudding, as well as a few other ‘traditional’ treats to suit the national (now international) palate that they cater too.
Ruth would be proud – the empire (my theme of the day, I guess) has grown to include outlets in a couple dozen states, Canada, Mexico, Hong Kong, Taiwan (yes, they are different places!) and Puerto Rico. I’m especially delighted they have opened in Cabo San Lucas, one of my favorite places to visit, but not a dining mecca.
Anyway, today, in Baton Rouge, Ruth’s was absolutely fine. What else would one expect? Pass the salt, please.