Optimistically Cautious

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Fine Dining, American Style: Ruth's Chris Steak House

I first posted about Ruth's Chris Steak House (9990 Jasper Avenue) in November last year when it had just opened in Edmonton. I finally had the opportunity to dine there with a few friends to celebrate a belated birthday.

I'm not sure why steak houses invariably have less lighting sources than other restaurants, but Ruth's Chris is an exemplar of this. Muted spotlights created a hazy darkness that when combined with the rich red carpeting and dark furniture, could be seen as the picture-perfect abode for stereotypical cinematic Asian gangsters. That said, our dining area (one of three) did have a few elegant touches, including a blue-lit wine cabinet and a soothing water wall. Interestingly enough, the conversational volume in the room rose quite a bit over the course of the evening, bordering on loud in such a small room, but was surprisingly refreshing for a dressed-to-the-nines crowd where I was expecting hushed whispers.

I was glad to see a good selection of non-steak options on the menu, but as I'm not a vegetarian, I couldn't very well not sample their beef on my introductory visit. The birthday girl and I both chose the Petite Filet, while my two other friends opted to share the Porterhouse for Two. In addition, we selected three sides to share (ordered a la carte) - sautéed mushrooms, au gratin potatoes, and the sweet potato casserole.

The plates arrived smoking hot (out of a 500 degree oven, our server claimed), and the quality was at it should be for an establishment of this caliber. My steak was grilled to medium perfection, tender and spiced to play up the natural flavour of the meat. One of my friends commented that the corn-fed Midwestern U.S. beef (which, with the exception of one dish, Ruth's Chris proudly serves in ranch-rich Alberta) lacked the "kick" she's used to tasting in grain-fed Alberta beef (I'm afraid my palette isn't refined enough to make that distinction). All of the sides were delicious as well - the sautéed mushrooms were lightly coated with savoury garlic butter; the au gratin potatoes were rich and creamy, topped with melted cheddar; and the caramelized-pecan crusted casserole could have doubled as dessert.

For dessert, I ordered the Creme Brulee served with mixed berries and mint. Beautifully presented in a white ceramic dish on a black plate (accented with the reds and the blues of the berries), it was a satisfyingly velvety custard complemented by the warm, sweet crunch of caramelized sugar.

My fine dining experiences are few and far between, but Ruth's Chris is right on par with other restaurants on the pricey end of the scale. While too expensive for an every day dinner, Ruth's Chris is worth a try if you are a steak connoisseur, or are looking for an intimate venue for that special occasion.

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Anonymous Megan said...

I'm jealous. I totally want to go there.

If you don't mind me asking, how much did you pay for your meal? I know it's pricey, but I'd like to know HOW pricey.

May 15, 2007 at 1:35 PM  
Blogger Gravitas said...

The Petite Filet was $42 (the cheapest steak on the menu), and the Porterhouse that my two friends split was $105. So, yes, quite pricey.

May 17, 2007 at 9:11 PM  

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