Gut reaction for July 26, 2012

For Weekly SurgeJuly 27, 2012 

Setting the Table

Romantic date nights, family dinners, private parties and business meetings all get the luxury treatment at Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Myrtle Beach.

Part of a chain of more than 120 U.S. locations, the restaurant founded by the late Ruth Fertel in 1965 continues the standards she established for excellent steaks and other upscale dishes served in upscale-yet-comfortable surroundings with impeccable and friendly service.

At the Myrtle Beach location beside the Intracoastal Waterway, a roomy and sun-filled bar is to the right of the front door. Behind the hostess stand is the main dining room with booths and tables, another dining room with a water view and a patio. Much wood is used in the decor, creating that distinctive clubby steak house ambiance.

Behind the main dining room are private rooms that can be closed off for parties and meetings, and they come with electronic hookups for presentations.

Mike Marques has been the executive chef for several years, and he has an esteemed local reputation for running a green kitchen and maintaining a kitchen garden.

Down the Hatch

This is fine dining, with fine dining prices and amenities, starting with a valet parking option. Something to remember about most of the dishes is they are portioned big enough to share, which our professional and friendly server kindly pointed out.

Appetizers and soups are $8.50 to $18, with choices including Crabtini where Colossal Lump crab meat is bathed in house-made vinaigrette and served with a side of Creole remoulade; and saffron-infused Veal Osso Buco Ravioli. We enjoyed three-bite Barbecue Shrimp, which are made New Orleans-style in a reduction of white wine, butter and garlic.

Salads are $7.50-$14, and of course there is a classic steak house Lettuce Wedge with bacon and blue cheese. We opted to share the fabulously delicious Ruth’s Chop Salad, where a tower of julienne iceberg, spinach, radicchio, red onions, mushrooms, green olives, bacon, eggs, hearts of palm, croutons and blue cheese is coated with lemon basil dressing and capped with fried onions.

Steaks are $35-$87. The New York Strips, Ribeyes, T-Bones and Porterhouses are all U.S.D.A. Prime, while Filets are U.S.D.A. Choice or above.

The Mr. and I enjoyed a U.S.D.A. Prime Cowboy Ribeye and a Filet, and we both opted to have them topped with a decadent blue cheese crust. Another steak topping is Oscar style with crab meat, asparagus and Bearnaise. If you want surf and turf, a steamed or fried lobster tail can be added for $32, or six jumbo shrimp for $12.

Neither one of us could finish our juicy and succulent medium-rare steaks; we should have shared the ribeye.

Other entrees ($21-$39) include a center-cut Pork Chop with cinnamon apples; Lamb Chops; Salmon Filet; Shrimp and Grits over jalapeno cheese grits; Stuffed Chicken Breast (the stuffing is garlic-herb cheese); and a vegetarian entree where the diner chooses three side dishes.

Those side dishes could each feed three or four people, and include mashed, Lyonnaise, baked, shoestring, au gratin or julienne potatoes; sweet potato casserole with a pecan crust; sauteed, creamed or au gratin spinach; sauteed mushrooms; fresh or au gratin broccoli; onion rings; broiled tomatoes; or fresh asparagus with Hollandaise.

Check, please

Desserts can be decadent, such as Chocolate Sin Cake, Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake or Creme Brulee; comforting with Warm Apple Crumb Tart (we had that, and it’s outstanding) or Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce; or simple and seasonal with Berries in Sweet Cream Sauce.

If you dine before 6:30 p.m., there are $42 and $52 Prime Time specials that come with soup or salad, entree, one side and dessert. Many locals take advantage of the Prime Bites Menu with starters, sandwiches and small plates priced $8-$18, and several of them (including Kobe Sliders and Calamari) are half-price from 5-6:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays in the bar/lounge.

Ruth’s Chris recently received an Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator Magazine, and until 6:30 p.m., featured wines by the glass are $8.

Ruth’s Chris Steak House is at 8761 Marina Parkway in Myrtle Beach, and the number is (800) 544-0808. It opens daily at 5 p.m.

Savory Swank at Ruth’s Chris Steak House

Becky Billingsley serves up fresh news daily at MyrtleBeachRestaurantNews.com.

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