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Ruth's Chris Steakhouse

In a word: Far flung Fleming's fills.

The specs: #0562 
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Latest Ruth's Chris Steakhouse news and reviews

JM ate the crab cakes with a side of mashed potatoes.
John ate Ruth's Dinner with steak, mushrooms, Caesar salad, and a house Riesling.
Nichole ate Ruth's Dinner with the petite filet and shrimp, creamed spinach, corn bisque, and a side of sweet and hot peppers.
Rose ate the BBQ shrimp with garlic potatoes and a harvest salad.
The bill was $160, or $40/person, plus tip.
John and Rose gave Ruth's Chris Steakhouse an A+; JM gave Ruth's Chris Steakhouse an A-; Nichole gave Ruth's Chris Steakhouse a B (see our grading rubric).

Ruth's Chris has an interesting history as a woman-owned chain that started in New Orleans. The Middleton location is Wisconsin's only one; our preconceived notion of the place as shorthand for pre-cut luxury was only confirmed on our visit.

A few of us opted for the prix fixe "Ruth's dinners," which simplify ordering quite a bit. Each is nearly perfectly portioned for enjoying on the spot without the hassle of leftovers, perfect for a date.

Nichole got the steak and shrimp combination that featured three nicely sauteed and peppered spicy shrimp, interlocked in a tight spiral on top of a pedestal of steak. A side of creamed spinach was loaded with dairy goodness and spiked with nutmeg. The side of hot and sweet pickled peppers was piquant, vinegary, and crisp, and was very useful in cleansing the palate, but of all the sides we could have chosen was probably the most like a relish and thus a little too much for one person to fress all by herself.

Rose's BBQ shrimp was served on a bed of garlic mashed potatoes with lots of buttery gravy. After a pleasing Harvest salad of mixed lettuce, roasted corn, cherries, bacon and tomatoes, topped with shoestring fried onions, all Rose could say was "OMG IT WAS SO GOOD!" (emphasis in original).

John was likewise enthused, calling his steak the best steak he has had in five years in Madison. The side of sauteed mushrooms was excellent and the Caesar salad had nice flakes of strong Parmesan.

Chocolate symphony

JM dug his crab cakes, which were not packed down, but instead were light and colorful with red and green flecks of finely diced peppers. They were nice, though he recognized the difference between the steak dinners and his - which is to say, the focus here is on the steak, not the seafood. The side of potatoes were excellent and telegraphed potatoness without being too lumpy.

Each of our set dinners came with a dessert, one of which was a "chocolate symphony." This included a small slice of light chocolate cake and a ramekin of fresh fruit awash in a buttery vanilla creme.

Throughout dinner, service was relaxed. The host came to introduce himself and chat for a bit, which added a nice touch of hospitality.

We know where to take John and Rose for our next celebration, but as for us, we may not make it a point to be back. The steaks were fine but the chain nature of the place doesn't do it for us. In other words, it's no Johnny Delmonico's, and who knows what we'll say once we've been to Smoky's Club and Tornado.

Comments

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Crab Cakes with peppers in them are anathema. Ugh. I always have to ask the server before I order any, and usually get weird looks.

I was pretty underwhelmed with this place. For one thing, it's really expensive for what you get - so I'm glad I went during Restaurant Week (last year). I would have been seriously ticked if I'd have spent full price (c. $40) for that meal. I thought the food was good, but certainly not great....and sorry, but at that price point, I expect great. I'd definitely agree with Nichole's "B" grade. For the price, the Tornado Room is a *much* better option. And actually, the Tornado Room may even be a little cheaper...

I haven't tried the one in Middleton but Ruth's is always a great option when you want a good steak in a strange city and don't have the time or connections to locate a local favorite. Consistent quality from city to city, which is a nice feature of chains.

I didn't make it to the Tornado Room for years but finally tried it a couple months ago and was disappointed. Everything except the spinach salad was just kind of bland. Service and drinks were great, and the atmosphere was very steakhousey, but the steak and sides were blah. If you're not going to season steaks then you have to let the fire give them some character, and that didn't seem to happen. I'll give them another try because I always hear good things and I think their kitchen was in a little bit of a flux during that time, but I'll be hitting Delmonico's before that.

Ruth's Chris is my favorite place for steak. I think their steak filets are amazing. I rarely eat steak, but I make an except for our yearly anniversary dinner at Ruth's Chris. Their creme brulee is also a decadent treat! Yum!

That's quite the steakhouse review. The only comment about steak was "the best steak he has had in five years". One mention of a filet, but otherwise nothing on the cuts or how they were prepared.

Doug, that's true. Thank you for the feedback. I didn't have anything insightful to say about this steak.

To me the trimmings of a steakhouse dinner are more interesting, so I spent more time on that aspect. Which is not to say I had any deep insights there, either, as I am not a critic and this is a dining log, not a restaurant review site.

If I had an obligation to explain any lack of detail about our companions' meals, I'd say we thought it rude to wring commentary out of them while they were trying to eat a nice supper.

Other than the interesting history of the franchise and its unharmonious name, my favorite aspect of Ruth's Chris is that strip club The Outer Limits uses it in their radio ads as a geographical touchstone.

"Two miles past Ruth's Chris on University!"

I'm sure they appreciate the free publicity every time it airs.

"...we want you to come!!... to Outer Limits!" Ugh.

I had a dinner here about a year and a half ago for business purposes. I have to admit that it exceeded my expectations (which I don't think were low, just not high (chain, steakhouse. Middleton)). The meal was was pretty tasty, the interior seemed pretty nice, and we had good service. They also didn't seem to mind that I stuffed about 10 books of matches into my pocket when I left.

That being said, because I was there for work I did not have to absorb the cost of the meal. And I have not been back since...not because I have some sort of issue with the place but if I am going to be spending that kind of $ on a dinner a whole slew of places come to mind long before Ruth's Chris.

tis true, nichole, that you gave a B and said nothing about your steak. i wonder about it. is the B because of the chain factor or the not-mentioned steak? i see nothing actually negative about your food... i know a B is 'pretty good', but can you give us more? this restaurant really divides the general public, it seems.

Sure, Liz. "A B means it was pretty good at being what it set out to be, and we'd return if our dining companions wanted to go" - and in the case of Ruth's Chris, I'd add "if someone else were buying." If I had my druthers I'd go elsewhere but I have no real complaints or praise about the food.

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