Monday, October 28, 2013

Ruth's Chris Steakhouse - Irvine

If you would allow me to analogize OC’s chain steakhouses to department stores: Mastro's is like Nordstroms--expensive but you get what you pay for in quality, execution and service. Capital Grille, which is flashy, a recent add-on to the landscape, is like Bloomingdales--fashionable with its porcini rubs and coffee-dust applied to its hunks of cattle meat.

Ruth’s Chris is then like Macy’s--predictable, ubiquitous, but also dependable. Which brings me to Morton's, which in my opinion and I’m sorry to say, is like today’s Sears--not at all what it used to be, its heyday long passed.

I ate at Morton’s not too long ago, but I didn’t post about it because, well, if you haven’t noticed, this blog is all about recommendations, not pans. But I did revisit Ruth’s Chris recently, and proved my Macy’s analogy is still accurate.

It was as great a meal as I expected. The 6-ounce filet mignon I ordered I ate hungrily like I hadn’t eaten steak in a long time. I drug each dripping forkful of rare, tender cow flesh through the sputtering puddle of melted butter that sat on a plate heated to the temperature of a red hot poker.

And on top of the steak, there was a halo made of fat shrimp. For a side, I ate roasted Brussels sprouts showered with crispy bacon and simmered in what I would guess is balsamic vinegar and more butter. And from my companion’s side dish, I plopped spoonfuls of mashed potato onto my superheated plate. It hissed on contact.

And before all this, I slurped a gigantic bowl of minestrone soup, a really well made one with juice-bursting tomatoes, crisp-tender vegetables, and bits of the grated parmesan slowly melting like snowflakes. And oh the broth! How good is this broth? I could’ve drank it by the gallon if it were possible. And then there was the salad with beets, roasted walnuts, and a flurry of goat cheese.

All of this was part of a $42.95 four-item prix fixe of theirs called “Ruth’s Classics”, which included a starter, an entrée, a side dish, and a dessert of a flourless chocolate cake that ate like an oversized chocolate truffle.

No, I didn’t pay for this meal, but I would’ve done so gladly, because when it comes to steakhouses, I’m better off spending the money on the Macy’s of steakhouses than the TJ Maxx.

Ruth's Chris Steakhouse
2961 Michelson Dr.
Irvine, CA 92612
(949) 252-8848

Taco Maria - Costa Mesa


At 5:28 PM, Blogger Greg Hao said...


How could you review Ruth's Chris and mention Morton's and Mastro's without mentioning Fleming's? (what's with all the possessive case in steakhouses??)

Okay, the gasp might have been a bit overblown but to my mind, the best steakhouse in the area is the aforementioend Fleming's. Definitely agreed though that Morton's is quite meh. Having eaten at quite a lot of Morton's (I've even been to Morton's in Hong Kong), I have to say that the decline in quality seems to be almost a chainwide phenomenon. I wonder why that is, didn't Morton use to be the gold standard of chain steakhouses?

BTW, you ever tried Del Frisco? That's another fantastic steak chain.

At 5:30 PM, Blogger Greg Hao said...

By the way, I guess to continue the department store analogy, I guess Fleming's would be Sak's. Another high end department store.

At 5:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like your analogies, what kind of department store would Fleming's be?

At 9:17 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


Well, darn. I plum forgot about Fleming's. In my defense, I've actually only been to the Fleming's in the 909. But it *WAS* good. Better than Morton's certainly, and right up there in Ruth's Chris's orbit. With all the other cool places in Fashion Island, I always forget there's a Fleming's there.


Thanks! I'd say I'd agree with Greg. Fleming's would be Sak's...if only for the reason that I haven't been there in ages.

At 9:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How hard can it be to get quality prime cut beef?


At 2:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So Fleming's good? I took my gf to Mastros in Costa Mesa and we llloooovvvved it!!!! We're going to Fleming's for her bday next month and I'm planning to get the $100 GC at Costco for just $80. Mastros set the bar sooo high I'm afraid Fleming's won't be as good.

At 4:50 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


I should ask Morton's that...

At 10:46 AM, Anonymous JB said...

I agree completely (no surprise) with your feelings about Ruth's Chris and Morton's.

Mastro's is OK (I had more issues with the atmosphere and the service in the Costa Mesa location than with the food). Fleming's, I did not like really anything -- maybe it didn't help that my steak was overdone?

When considering chain steakhouses here, spend your $$ at Ruth's Chris and Mastro's, folks.

At 11:04 AM, Blogger Greg Hao said...

@JB -

Obviously disagree with you re: Fleming's as compared to the others. But it did occur to me that while yes, the point of a steakhouse is the steaks, the side dishes also are important and that's another area where I feel like Fleming's shine above the others.

Although it's been a long, long time since I have visited Morton's or Ruth's Chris so I can't comment on their current sides offering.

On Mastro's, have you tried the one in Crystal Cove? That one has been better than the Costa Mesa one since its opening.

At 8:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also had a very forgettable experience at Fleming's. The quality of the steak, preparation, and service were all sadly lacking. One steak undercooked, the other one overlooked. First and foremost, a steak house needs to be able to cook the steak as ordered.

I've never had a bad steak at Ruth's Chris.


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