The classy Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse
Want to wow your carnivorous lover this Valentine’s Day? Look no further than the luscious steaks of Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, located at the base of the Calgary Tower. The popular North American chain, established by the late Ruth Fertel, originated in New Orleans in 1965.
I had heard many mouth-watering stories about the restaurant’s delectable steaks and sides, but the oddly possessive name had always puzzled me.
As it turns out, Fertel’s first steakhouse was originally The Chris Steak House. As part of her purchase, Fertel was required to keep that name for a period. After that period ended, she didn’t want to lose customers, so kept Chris in the name and began franchising the concept in the ’70s.
Beginning our meal, we started with a featured appetizer of seared jumbo scallops in a parsley pesto ($18). The plate itself was lovely, garnished in sea salt with the slaw-topped scallops accompanied by a lemon wedge wrapped in cheesecloth. Fresh, with a spicy zip, the dish was tasty despite its lacklustre pesto flavour.
While the appetizer was certainly passable, the hype surrounding Ruth’s Chris is focused squarely on its steaks. One of my dining companions mentioned that Ruth’s Chris is the reason why she can’t be a vegetarian, and after visiting, I can see why. With beef seared at 982 C, placed on a 260 C heated plate, and topped with an ounce of butter upon leaving the kitchen, the result is a blissful butter-beef utopia.
Cutting into my petit filet ($42), I noted how perfectly cooked and astonishingly tender the steak was. The butter can be slightly overwhelming at first, but the flavour of the beef definitely comes through.
Let it be known that Ruth’s Chris primarily serves USDA beef, which potentially could be a sore point with some locals. Have no fear, Albertans — to appease, Ruth’s serves a 12-ounce Alberta prime New York strip ($44) that I am proud to say gives that ounce of butter a run for its money. The Alberta cut was slightly less tender than its American counterpart, but the rich flavour of our local beef is in a class of its own.
The restaurant’s menu is à la carte, which makes for a pricey meal, but the sides are definitely worth it. Alongside our steaks, we had the sweet potato casserole ($8), a tasty yam mash-up with a pecan crust. We also had the broccoli au gratin ($8). Not your typical cheese sauce, it was more like a fondue, comprised of Emmenthal, Swiss and cheddar.
There wasn’t much room for dessert after our sumptuous steaks but, like true foodies, we forged ahead and split the caramelized banana crème pie ($12). It was worth the extra work at the gym. Beautifully plated atop a caramelized sugar-coated plate, the small, round pie topped with toasted bananas had a light and flaky crust and a delectably creamy centre.
Ruth’s Chris is not a steakhouse for purists, but it’s worth trying for a delicious twist on steak. The space is appealing, traditionally decorated in dark wood and tan colours with tiered tables and raised banquettes overlooking Ninth Avenue. With an extensive wine list, creative cocktail list and exceptional service, it’s a great spot for a swanky night on the town.
Ruth’s Chris Steak House is located at 115 9 Ave. S.E.; phone, 246-3636.