Sunday, December 2, 2012
My Family's Christmas Dream Meal -- Ruth's Chris Steak House
Oh yes. A nice steak dinner. That would be a dream meal for the family this Christmas.
Some very fine custom-aged USDA Prime beef expertly broiled at 980 degrees C (1800 degrees F) and served on plates heated to 260 degrees C (500 degrees F). See the guys handling the plates carefully with napkins? They're hot! I mean the plates. Those are some mind-boggling temperatures!
For our Christmas feast this year, I'm hunting for a great dining spot that takes American Express because there's a chance to win round-the-world SQ tickets. Among the destinations are San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Houston. All of which also happen to be places where you can find Ruth's Chris Steak Houses. Not surprisingly, because this fine-dining chain has over 130 locations worldwide. Singapore is the 133rd location, but we're the first in South-east Asia.
You may already know the story behind this famous chain. It all began in New Orleans (doncha love the mardi gras beads and squeezable cow?). A single working mom named Ruth Fertel mortgaged her home to take over Chris Steak House, so she could have a business to provide for her children. She named it Ruth's Chris Steak House. That was some forty years ago, and now the business has grown so big, it's part of a publicly listed restaurant group (NASDAQ: RUTH). How cool to have your name as a stock on NASDAQ!
Here's a toast to that inspiring success story. You can have pre-dinner drinks at the adjoining bar at Ruth's Chris. It's small here, as we don't really have that culture of drinking before we eat. But do try some of their cocktails. This apple one is quite refreshing.
But I know my family will zero in on the food, and there's plenty of good stuff here. Ruth's Chris is not just for steaks -- there are some stellar appetisers and desserts too.
Sizzlin' Blue Crab Cakes (S$35 for 2 huge pieces)
Best crab cakes ever? Possibly! Ruth's Chris features jumbo lump crab cakes with sizzling butter and lemon. Jumbo is the operative word, and there's so much crab meat packed in here, it's the most generous crab cake I've seen. The crispy crust holds loads of decadently creamy, well-seasoned crab meat inside.
Barbecued Shrimps (S$35)
That bright-looking Creole butter sauce with white wine, garlic, herbs and spices? Amazing. Don't be shy about mopping it up with bread. The shrimps are just lightly smoky and sweet, but perhaps might seem a little overdone for Asian tastebuds (you know how the Chinese cooks are especially fastidious about seafood cooked just right).
Seafood Gumbo (Soup of the day, market rate prices)
The seafood gumbo is hearty and comforting. The stew is topped with a mound of white rice, which somehow makes it very familiar to us.
Ruth's Chop Salad (S$23)
This is their signature salad, created inhouse. Julienned iceberg lettuce, baby spinach and radicchio are tossed with red onions, mushrooms, green olives, bacon, eggs, hearts of palm, croutons, bleu cheese, lemon basil dressing and then topped with crispy onions.
The blue cheese is really strong in this, so if you're not fond of stinky cheeses, take note.
OK, wonderful as the appetisers are, it's time for the mains!
Ribeye (12 ounce, 340 grams, S$85)
You can hear and smell the steaks even before they appear - sizzling butter on the very hot plates plus the aroma of seared beef. The ribeye is tender and juicy, nicely fatty and smooth. But somehow it's just a wee bit more bland than other ribeye steaks I've had. Sizewise, this is probably good enough for two small eaters to share. Bigger appetites can ask for the 16 ounce, 450 grams at S$120.
Petite Fillet (8 ounce or 230 grams, S$85)
As the name suggests, this is a smaller cut (you can tell from the size of the grill marks). It's much leaner and has that cottony soft texture typical of most tenderloin steaks. It's also quite mild flavourwise.
New York Strip (12 ounce or 340 grams, S$85)
I normally prefer ribeye to the New York Strip, but having tried both here...I find myself preferring the more beefy taste that the New York Strip has. Sure, it's a bit more chewy but in an enjoyable way. Rawr!
Like the ribeye, this is also available in a bigger slab - the 16 ounce or 450 grams at S$120.
The steaks are done just right, with just salt and pepper for seasoning, and finished with just a sprinkling of chopped parsley and dab of melted butter. You can ask for sauces, but with beef this good, you won't need them.
Steak Fries (S$18)
For me, steak and fries go together. These seriously massive wedges are topped with rosemary, roasted garlic and sun-dried tomatoes - rather interesting. If these don't fill the belly, I don't know what will. Oh wait, there's another potato side dish...
Fresh Asparagus with Hollandaise (S$23)
But you should have more greens to balance all that meat. Asparagus spears very simply poached and served with Hollandaise sauce is one choice that seems healthier than creamed or gratin-style vegetables.
Baked Potato (S$20)
Yes, that other quintessential side for steaks, the baked potato. The spuds are massive, so you can easily share this. Sour cream, chives and bacon complete the ensemble.
A good glass of red to go with the meat. This is a fairly young Bordeaux that's a little bit smoky and spicy with hints of berries - the Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red 2006 (S$400/bottle) from Napa Valley, California. I'm not much of a drinker, so I think I'll happily save the calories for more food instead.
Or dessert! The hidden gems at Ruth's Chris...
The Cheesecake (S$25) is divine! Is it worth the price tag? Yes, yes, and one more yes! OK, I'm partial to anything with cheese in it, but this is probably one of the best cheesecakes I've ever had. Gorgeous golden crust and luscious cream cheese topped with a sweetish sour cream. Every bite is buttery heaven.
Chocolate Molten Cake ($25)
Those who like chocolate will adore the moist, warm chocolate cake with melted ganache in the centre, topped with a cold scoop of vanilla ice cream. Plus lashings of sweet caramel? Wow, it's an ending to die for.
There are a few more choices like creme brulee, bread pudding and apple crumble tart which are equally massive in size (you get to "preview" actual samples on a display tray).
The restaurant setting is upmarket without being too intimidating. Cosy ambiance with funky artwork. You can feel just as comfortable here with family or business partners. There is also a private dining room at the back.
Ruth's Chris is at Marina Mandarin Singapore. Yes, dining here calls for a splurge, but the festive season makes it perfect for such memorable indulgences.
RUTH'S CHRIS SINGAPORE
Level 4, Marina Mandarin Hotel
6 Raffles Boulevard
Tel: +65 6336-9093
Open daily: 11.30am-3pm; 5.30pm-11pm
Thanks to MS&L and the Ruth's Chris team for the invitation!
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