First I want to say, for those that may be reading this post as the first of mine ever, I do not typically write anything negative about anything.
Negative words attract more of the same type of energy and I am hoping to get as far away from this disappointing experience as quickly as possible.
However, it is also important to let people know when they should consider spending their hard earned money more wisely. And that is what this post is about.
Many people have heard of Ruth’s Chris…best steak you have ever had…EVER. When they came to town 20+ years ago, my husband and I went in, not knowing that it would be at least $100 for each of us to eat. So we had an ice tea and left that night, because we were not prepared to spend that much.
We have always wanted to go back and try it again. Lucky us, for Christmas this year we got a $50 gift card to Ruth’s Chris. Not enough for the whole meal, but a good start. And, For the last two weeks of January, 30 downtown restaurants were offering special menus to give people a chance to sample to best of what there is to eat downtown. Devour Downtown.
Last year we went to an Italian restaurant we had never been to before called Iozzo’s and it was fabulous. Did not even need a reservation. So this year, we decided to try Ruth’s Chris to be sure we use the gift card and got the most for our money. When I tried to make reservations for Saturday Feb. 1, 2014, they were booked until 10:30 p.m. Like who could eat steak that late and then sleep…heck, who is awake to eat that late? I asked about a cancellation list and was informed they do not do that.
Luckily, because the weather has been so bad in Indianapolis this winter, the Devour event was extended for one week. The news reported all restaurants were extending the dates. This is something I should have double checked….
I made our reservation for 5:15 p.m. 2-8-2014.
We were really excited and had talked with friends who had been the previous weekend who raved about it. We dressed up, ready for our first dinner out of 2014. (We both had the flu in January and with 3-10″ of snow falling every week, going out has not happened, not even for breakfast.)
We parked around the corner. The sidewalk was cleared in a one-person width. When we walked up to the doors of the restaurant, no one was there to greet us. No one opened the door. We were not acknowledged until we walked up to the hostess stand. I found it strange, considering Chili’s and Applebee’s ALWAYS have a greeter, and let’s face it, we could feed 8 people there for the price of one steak dinner here.
They check our coats and we were seated. By the kitchen entrance, go figure. The way the booth was set up made it not so noisy, but we did get to watch the wait staff all evening.
We looked at the drink menu, then the food menu. I noticed there was no special “Devour Downtown” menu included. I asked to waiter, and he said it was up to the individual restaurant if they wanted to extend the offer and Ruth’s Chris decided not to do that.
Okay…now we know we are at minimum looking at about an additional $50 for the meal. Not a big deal, we had the money to cover it. I also knew from looking at the web site that they had a menu special that included salad, entree, side and dessert. Before I could ask, the waiter brought us the “Pre-Fixe” menu, since I had asked about the Devour menu. That was nice, since I was going to ask anyway.
At this point, I am trying to figure out if my husband is going to be able to calm down enough to even enjoy eating a meal, much less one this expensive. We decide yes, we will try to relax and enjoy ourselves. At this time, I am noticing the waiter seems a bit condescending. We order off of the “buy here, pay here” menu, as Gregg termed it. We both got salads and fillets, which also came with a side and dessert. It was the Devour Downtown menu, only $50, instead of $30 per person. Gregg asked for well done, I got medium rare.
The salads both had been prepared and kept in the cooler, you can tell when the greens have been still open in the refrigerator, as opposed to being freshly tossed and put on the plate. We did not mention that.
Now mind you, we are prepared for THE BEST steak we have ever eaten. We have been hearing that from lots of people and of course the reviews. Melt-in-your-mouth, cut it with a fork…blah, blah. The steaks were sizzling when they came out, and the server made sure we held our napkins up over our clothes to protect them.
At this point, the manager stops at the table. We have not even cut our steaks yet. He wants to know how things are. I replied with a nice, good but disappointed about the Devour menu not being offered even though they were still listed on the site. He apologizes and then proceed to do something no restaurant manager should EVER EVER EVER do: He said “We just could not afford to absorb the financial impact of one more week of those menu prices”. Yes, he really said that. Marchelino was his name. I politely nodded my understanding and he left. That set Gregg off again. I mean COME ON…What customer is going to be sympathetic to the financial impact of a dinner special of a place that is a minimum $100 per plate? Even with the $50 special, you are adding at least $5 to $15 for a drink plus gratuity, so let’s call it what it is. (Our server has become more scarce as the evening progressed.)
We cut into this “legendary” steak, with a knife. NO, my fork did not work. And yes I had to chew it. More than the filet we get from our local Marsh supermarket that we cook on our own grill. And the flavor (not the seasoning) of the meat was, well bland. Not flavorful, not tasting of the grass the cow ate, just blah. Meanwhile, Gregg’s well done steak, that looks more like a sirloin patty than a filet, also has some fatty spots in it. It is not melt-in-your-mouth tender either. Which must have been written all over Gregg’s face, because Marchelino returned to the table. He asked how the steaks were. I said mine was good. I did not say the best, just good. Then he asked Gregg. At which point, Gregg took the opportunity to tell him it was not even close to the best steak he has ever eaten. He even went as far to say we had better steaks on our grill at home. That did not make Marchelino happy at all, so he did not charge us for Gregg’s dinner at all. And again, he made a very greedy remark. He said the waiter had told him we were looking for the Devour menu, but because we ordered from the “Pre-Fixe” menu, he could not comp our appetizer. I got the distinct impression that if you ask for and order off that menu, you are not going to get the best food the restaurant has to offer. And you are considered a bit “lower class” than the other clientele. That is the attitude we got from our server and the manager.
After we finished our steaks, the waiter brought is the best part of the meal, the dessert. It was fresh, not the “sat over night” leftover from Friday.
We paid, tipped 20%, got our coats then Gregg went to get the car while I waited. As I waited I noticed that women who were dressed up were having to climb over two foot tall ice/snow drifts that were in front of the restaurant at the valet/pick up area. To be fair we have had LOTS of snow here in Indy this past month. But it did not snow two feet on Friday. I was thinking to myself, for a nice and high-line as they want to portray, the lack of greeters at the door and the fact there was not ever a two foot path to get into the car, that was a poor show. Yes I understand it is difficult to get rid of all that snow, but for he money they charge, they should have put it in buckets and carried it around back or something. At least two cars could comfortably pick up passengers without people ruining their dress shoes out front.
The restaurant was nicely decorated, but all in all, the facility, staff and food fell far short of what we expected. And yes, we have been to other equally nice (actually better) steak places. Harry Cary’s in Chicago, Moe’s A Place for Steaks, Harry and Izzy’s, even Iozzo’s filet was more tender and flavorful.
Perhaps we had heard too much for too many years. Like the mythological creature or the person you admire but do not know, the reality was not close to the dream. Sometimes it is better to leave things to your imagination. My advice, if you want a steak sizzling in butter, make it at home, grill it then put it under the broiler with some butter and enjoy saving $100 or more.