I did it. After all it was our anniversary. I finally broke down and took my wife to Ruth’s Chris.
For those of you who are uninformed, it’s a steak restaurant. What “Red Robin” is to McDonalds, Ruth’s Chris is to Outback. It’s a fancy place.
But not so fancy I had to wear a suit and tie… Which was very important. I hate dressing up. I have a suit I wear to weddings and funerals and to my wife’s school’s prom. I don’t go to church, so I don’t need a suit for that (I found Jesus already. We had a talk, and we agreed to leave each other alone). I feel out of place in a suit. They say “dress to impress”, but I don’t want to try and impress by “faking it”. I am who I am, putting on a suit doesn’t change that, and only makes me uncomfortable. So, with a nice polo shirt and slacks, I was okay. And no tie! Ties suck and serve no purpose. I think women invented the tie to punish men. We got them back when we invented the thong…
I’m used to Outback, Longhorn, and other steak places: long wooden tables with a napkin roll and a menu. I’ve eaten at fancy places before, with tablecloths and several glasses and a bunch of forks, but only once before at a steak place (that was a mistake – we were at the beach and wandered in). So sitting down to a table for four with plates and knives and glasses everywhere, I was thinking: where the heck is my food going to fit? They quickly whisked away the extras, leaving us with two glasses, knives and forks each. That I could handle…
Then they brought the menu and asked if we had ever been there before. No…
First we were told that the best choice was steak (duh) and then that they cook everything in an 1800 degree broiler. WTF? 1800 degrees? Where do you even get temperatures of 1800 degrees? I don’t think FIRE burns at 1800 degrees. Are they using a carbon arc heating element in there? (I went to a steel mill once with an arc furnace – imagine a stick of carbon the size of a phone pole with a 30 megawatt arc coming off the bottom into the pool of steel. That was hot…) Screw the steak, I just want to see this broiler.
Then we were told the steak is brought out on a 500 degree plate so it “stays hot while you eat it”. Stays hot? The damn thing is still cooking. Order your steak one notch below what you usually get, because a medium steak will be well done before you can put the thing in your mouth. I still can’t get over the broiler.
So they take our order and bring out the salad. The whole time I feel like a bull in a China shop. I’m trying my best not to embarrass my wife. The salads come, and I have this Caesar salad on a long rectangular plate. The salad is sort of sitting inside these two long leaves of Romaine lettuce. I had to ask my wife if I can eat the big leaves or is that considered “decoration”. I’m told I can eat them. I’m thinking, “Cool, this is like I’m part of the kitchen staff – I’m cutting up my own big pieces of lettuce.” I’m trying not to get any crumbs on the table cloth, but I keep having to pick them up because I don’t want the staff talking about the “baboon at table six messing up our nice table”
A side note here: Chefs, stop being assholes. Do NOT put anything edible on my plate that I’m not supposed to eat. Sprigs of parsley, mint, chives or whatever. I’m really tired of hearing, “You ATE that? It’s just for decoration!” I don’t want decoration on my plate. Decorations are for X-Ma$$ trees, parade floats, and other festive events. Stop making my food into some sort of artistic display with parts that I can’t eat.
Before my wife finishes her salad, a troupe of people come out and surround us like we’re about to be arrested or something. Our plates are whisked away. Then one of the staff runs this ice scraper thing around on the table in front of each of us us. I quickly figure out she is getting any errant crumbs up, and can barely contain laughter. Once the dirty plates and crumbs (God Forbid!) are removed, the 500 degree sizzling steaks are set out before us. They look tasty enough, we just can’t touch them. Our side choices were mashed potatoes (her) and sautéed mushrooms (me), which were tasty, but a warning: When you put your mushroom or potatoes on your 500 degree plate, eat fast, because they quickly heat up, and while the first piece is nice and warm, the last bite is hot as Hell and you wind up swallowing a mix of half-chewed mushrooms and hastily acquired ice water.
Our steaks cooled to eating temperature within a few minutes (I don’t care how good the steak is, when you have to wash it down with a cold blast of tea to keep from setting your tongue on fire, they all sort of taste the same), and we can finally enjoy them. I dripped mushroom juice on the tablecloth, which I thought might be a death penalty offense there, so I made an effort to hide it with strategically placed flatware.
After finishing, our plates are again whisked away (no ice-scraper crumb girl this time), and ice cream and sorbet are brought out. There were three HUGE scoops in a big glass. There is a sprig of mint on top (which I’m told I can’t eat, damn you chef!) so I move it aside and try to eat some. I get about a scoop and a half in me, and I’m DONE.
Of course, when we arrived, we “checked in” on Facebook. One of my friends told me “Just wait until you get the bill!” The bill was no surprise (why would you go somewhere these days where the price was an unknown? A restaurant bill should never really surprise you), and was about equal to what the Melting Pot runs, so I pronounced the evening a success. We tried something new, and had a good time at it. We’ll definitely go back… for a special event, of course. And I’ll go without a tie.