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Ruth's Chris Steak House, A Florida-Based Chain - Ten Area Locations With Over 120 Outlets Nationwide

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Ruth's Chris Steak House near the convention center. Excellent company. OK food. The person organizing it was known to the house, so we got especially attentive service. I was surprised at how good my ribeye (cooked medium rare as requested) was. I also got a wedge salad. Not the best I have ever had but worlds better than the one I had not long ago at M&S. I had only bits of other foods, so I can't comment much. Crab stuffed mushrooms were okay. Au gratin potatoes tasted too strongly of something but I'm not sure what. Couldn't manage any creamed spinach because I was too full, but the dessert offering of berries and cream and raspberry sorbet was way too sweet.

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Their 2008 Annual Report is available online here.

Here is a highlight:

For the year ended December 28, 2008, total revenues grew 27.1% to $405.8 million from $319.2 million, while restaurant sales grew 28.5% to $390.4 million from $303.7 million. The increase was due primarily to an additional $74.5 million contributed from the 22 Mitchell’s restaurants which we acquired in February 2008. We

also generated $40.8 million from Ruth’s Chris Steak House restaurants opened during 2007 and 2008, offset by a comparable sales decrease at Ruth’s Chris Steak House of 10.3%. Based on the upscale steakhouse Knapp-Track Index, our comparable sales performance was relatively in line with our peers, and during the second half

of 2008, we gained market share even as the overall category has contracted. The Company’s net loss was $53.9 million for 2008, including $81.3 million in pre-tax loss on impairment and $8.9 million in pre-tax restructuring costs, compared to net income of $18.1 million for 2007.



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Second Restaurant Week foray was dinner Monday night at Ruth's Chris in Bethesda.  Their website indicates they have complimentary valet parking, but I didn't see anyone in front of the restaurant when I drove up and blocked traffic for a few moments on Wisconsin.  A call to the hostess stand informed me that the valet are on a side street (quite a ways down) that requires one to go past the restaurant and double back through a neighborhood to get to.  I'm sure they field those calls regularly, and I was a put off by how snippy the hostess was with me on the phone.

The service was classic RC.  Which I always find a bit overbearing.  Our server spent a lot of time trying to up-sell us to items that were either not part of the Restaurant Week promotion or carried an additional charge.  As it was, we did order a side of their lobster mac & cheese (not a very large side, and it was $17!).  I was glad I had ordered it though, if I hadn't, my husband would have left the restaurant hungry.

Their promotion includes a choice of either a Cesar or tossed salad, one of three entree options and ice cream or sorbet for dessert.  While the entree's were typical of their menu, I felt they didn't really try to do anything special with either their appetizers or desserts.   I ordered the mixed grill which came with a small crabcake, chicken breast and a very small piece of filet (4oz, pre-cooked weight).  My husband ordered the 6 oz filet, and I gave him my 4 oz portion.  We both ordered our steaks medium, but mine came closer to well done.  The entrees included a small side item, but the choices were limited to garlic mashed potatoes (almost no garlic flavor), spinach or sauteed mushrooms.  We each ordered chocolate ice cream for dessert and it was literally just ice cream in a glass dish with a mint sprig on top.

I think RC was really just phoning it in for Restaurant Week.  Since I don't eat beef, it's not generally a place we go, but I thought it would be a nice treat for my husband during Restaurant Week.  Next time we'll choose a restaurant that is more enthusiastic about participating in the promotion.

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My office had our holiday party at the Bethesda location last night.  I thought it was pretty mediocre.  We ordered off a pre set menu.  I ordered the Ruth Chris Salad, rib eye, and chocolate cake for desert.  I asked for a medium rare steak with no butter.  I was not impressed with the steak.  For what I assume is prime, it was pretty tough, and not cooked to temperature.  The steak did not have much flavor.  The salad also wasn't anything special, just some mesculun greens, a couple grape tomatoes and maybe 2 slices of red onion.  If I was paying for the meal myself, I would have been upset, but sometimes the company you are with is what makes a meal memorable.

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