Ruth's Chris Steakhouse
In a word: Far flung Fleming's fills.
The specs: #0562
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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.
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.