Ruth's Chris Steak House
96th and Keystone gets my vote as the most annoying intersection in greater Indianapolis. The lights are long, the quarry trucks are intimidating and dusty, the traffic cop on the west side of 96th confuses everything, the running middle turn lane on the east side of 96th Street promises imminent fender benders, the signage is poor, and the traffic gets worse as they keep building businesses to entice the ever-expanding neighborhoods of northeast Indianapolis. I avoid this intersection at all costs. This is where the northside Ruth’s Chris is. I’d probably like it better if it were located somewhere else.
Ruth’s Chris is the quintessential expense account steak house. It’s rich and clubby, and the waiters are well trained to read the customers and attend to them accordingly. You’ll get a fine meal whether you’re there for an anniversary, a business dinner, or to pick up a young Republican Carmelite in the bar.
With a party of four men and one woman we were clearly there on business (otherwise, I was the luckiest girl in town). We were seated at a round table, which I prefer for chatting. Unfortunately, this one was a little too big for us, making it difficult to talk. My other quibble is that the room was pretty dim, to the point where it was difficult to read the menus. The brightest light came from the PowerPoint presentation glowing through the interior windows of the meeting room nearby.
[A note about the temperature of the room: A friend told me that he and his wife stopped coming here because it was always uncomfortably cold (no doubt to cater to the overweight businessmen who were a mere porterhouse away from a full-on myocardial infarction). This night I was perfectly comfortable, so perhaps they’ve adjusted their thermostats.]
After a well made manhattan at the bar, I had shucked the cares of the day and was ready for a hearty steak house meal. I started with the tomato and onion salad, sprinkled liberally with bleu cheese. The tomatoes, sadly, were light pink and hothouse tasteless. (I don’t even know why I bother to order them outside the months of July and August. They aren’t good anywhere.) The vinaigrette was tremendous – tangy with a touch of sweet -- and almost made up for the wan tomatoes. Next time I would order a different salad but make sure they used this dressing.
I also tried the crab cakes, which were impeccably put together and hot -- that’s temperature-hot, not spicy-hot. Ruth’s Chris likes to make a big deal about how hot everything is, and at what temperature they keep their ovens. The server mentioned it several times. I can’t remember the precise number; it was something ridiculous like 1800 degrees. The crab cakes (or at least the metal plate they were on) came with the hot treatment. I was admonished not to touch the platter lest my hand become fused to it.
The “don’t look directly at it” hot rule was created mainly for the steaks, of course. I ordered the strip steak and was not disappointed. The steak arrived sizzling and bathed in a coating of melted butter. It was rich with juice and fat, seasoned perfectly, and cooked medium rare, to order. Everyone gave high marks to their steaks.
The side dishes are well made steak house standards. The simply prepared whole mushrooms sautéed in butter were as addictive as tomacco. The asparagus spears in hollandaise sauce were the big fat ones, which I don’t like as well as the more delicate skinny spears. The mashed potatoes with garlic were hot, fluffy, and perfect.
Desserts here are gilding the lily, but we soldiered on. I tried the apple tart, which was a monster with Granny Smith apples baked in a flaky round pastry. The apples were tart and tasty, but the pastry was flabby and mealy. The caramelized banana cream pie was made of a dense, rich banana custard in a pretty good pie crust with a caramelized top. (Rule: caramelized almost always makes it better.)
Before dinner, the bossman sought the server’s suggestions for ordering a cabernet sauvignon. This is where the serious upsell really took place. Bossman picked a wine, and the server suggested that for “only $30 more” we could be drinking a vastly superior wine. This led us to the 2001 Von Strasser Cabernet, which was indeed good, although well above (let me reiterate that point: well above) what I would pay for a bottle of wine in a restaurant, if it were coming out of my own pocket.
And our charismatic (and – ahem – good looking) server was a master at it. We had salads, appetizers, fine wine, plenty of sides and desserts all around, with the server laughing and cracking jokes and making helpful suggestions along the way. And there was nothing sleazy about it. The guy was good at his job, even if it did lighten pockets substantially.
Bottom line: the meal is very good, the atmosphere is standard high-end steak place, and the service is excellent. If you’re there to impress a date or a client, you probably will. Just don’t touch the plates. They’re really hot.
9445 Threel Road
96th & Keystone
Indianapolis, IN 46240
Circle Centre Mall
45 S. Illinois Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204
TrackBack URL for this entry:
- About Us
- Board and Video Games
- Day Trips
- Events & Festivals
- Film & TV
- Geek Bling
- Hoosier Oddities
- Indianapolis In the News
- Indianapolis Living
- Kids' Stuff
- Local Attractions
- Local Celebrities
- Museums and Visual Arts
- Night Life