Entering the steakhouse felt like a proper, classy affair - like an important dinner at some dignitary's mansion. The interior was fairly warm and inviting, but also a little impersonal, although I've been told that they are in the process of acquiring some artwork to be displayed on the walls soon. Service was thoroughly professional with personality, which is good considering the fact that most establishments nowadays seem to have their staff respond to you robotically as if they have memorised stuff out of some customer service phrase book.
According to our host, Stanley, Ruth's Chris is big on the Southern Hospitality thing, staying true to their New Orleans' heritage as a company. So yes, the service does evoke some sort of an impression that the whole affair dining here is like attending a big upscale dinner party.
Sizzling Blue Crab Cakes ($35)
Served with a lemon wrap to squeeze on the crab cake, and served on a searing hot sizzling plate, the sweet taste of crab meat had a fine texture and full-bodied flavour. The savoury tanginess of the accompanying herbs, such as okra, was a pleasant finish to the whole taste of the dish. Xinli did feel that the lemon juice should be used sparingly as a flavour accent to the cake which he felt was "good enough on its own" though.
Barbecue Shrimps with Creole Butter ($35)
The butter opened the dish very well, smooth but not too overwhelmingly salted or full in body that it overwhelms the natural sweetness of the shrimp. The shrimp was wonderfully fresh, supple and springy in texture. The tanginess of the butter from the cayenne pepper provided an excellent accent to the savoury smoothness of the butter as well.
Seafood Gumbo Soup ($ Market Price)
This one was a killer. A complex medley of flavours soon came dancing and sloshing around in my mouth in a tangy swirl of savoury earthiness. This Gumbo was a little less thick than the ones I've tried, but most probably due to the fact that I was told that they used file powder (dried/ground sassafras leaves, which taste like root beer), along with shrimp juice, with what seemed to be celery, bell peppers, onions, chorizo. A lot was a going on here, but it came out right. Just like momma's mysterious bowl of delicious stew, you just couldn't put a finger to what made it taste so right. Or at least, you didn't bother anyway. But that being said, this was more of a soup then gumbo per se, because what I had previously was Gumbo on rice rather than rice on Gumbo… haha.
US Prime New York Strip ($85)
The Prime New York Strip is a impressive masterpiece. In size, taste and demeanour. Served sizzling hot on a 260 degree plate, it stands alone, with an excellent absence of the overwhelming sauces that we are sometimes too used to seeing. I've been told this is one fine example of the top 2% of all US Beef, custom-aged (wet-aged, I must add), which explains the beautiful marbling in the fat and the very rich flavour (not too gamey, because of the wet-aging). Lightly garnished with fried parsley flakes, the beef was tender and evenly seared throughout the entire steak, which is bloody impressive. I would recommend, as with most good steaks, for it to be served medium rare, as you can taste the tenderness and rich savoury juices of the steak. Mine turned up medium though. Pretty amazing stuff.
The sides were almost a sideshow next to the massive portion (340grams) of the steak. The sautéed mushrooms ($20) were fairly decent, sufficiently springy and tender at the same time, mellowed with a nice saltiness of butter. The fresh asparagus ($23) was pretty much ho-hum though, I couldn't complain much because it was simply blanched and served with hollandaise sauce.
Lamb Chops ($105)
The unexpected star of the show was the Lamb Chop, strangely. I have never tasted any lamb so tender and soft and flavourful in my life. Cooked to a delightful pink perfection, the layer of smooth, white fat thinly laying the meat just seared one to the culinary heavens, and back. Lightly seasoned with pepper and herbs, the crispness of the outer-crust really enhance the textures of this dish, along with the savoury onslaught on gamey flavours (not too gamey thankfully) in my mouth. Love this!
Warm Apple Crumb Tart ($25)
What can I say! This was served with a huge dose of Southern hospita ity, with that generous portion (considering you have just finished a 340gm steak) topped off with the smoothest vanilla ice-cream on the market, from Haagen Dazs. The crust pastry was wonderfully crisp and buttery, and the consistency was commendable. I also like the fact that the apple filling inside wasn't too overly sweet, giving that 'gelak' flavour, yet still pleasant enough to pack a nice rounded punch of flavour to the whole dessert. It was excellent - felt like something home-made and not mass produced, baked with care and love.
Well, I was told by my dinner companion Chi that this was a "life-changing" cheesecake. Although Xinli says that he would have preferred the crust to be a little more biscuit-like, the cream cheese filling was light and not too heavy, and had a nice smooth sweetness throughout that wasn't too overwhelming. It was, balanced quite nicely with the creative addition of sour cream (which had a fairly sweet twang and heavy dose of vanilla to it) to act as a very good topping for this. And Xinli points out it seems to be based on the exact same recipe of the "Three Cities of Spain" cheesecake… Nevertheless, a real impressive rendition.
With it's upmarket offerings to the intensely competitive F&B scene in Singapore, Ruth's Chris brings its famed franchise right here for discerning Singaporean diners. While prices maybe on the steeper end of the spectrum, I believe that there is a market for such a niche area of fine dining especially when it comes to interpreting the sometimes crass impression Asians have of American cuisine. There's a certain homely Southern charm in the big portions, rich and homely flavours, in this upmarket ambience that really does give Ruth's Chris an air of authority in establishing itself to be a new, serious player in Singapore's steakhouse scene.
You have been warned.
Special thanks to Chi Tran from MSLGroup Singapore and Stanley and his team for hosting this invited session.
6 Raffles Boulevard
Marina Mandarin Hotel
Tel: 6336 9093
Lunch: 11.30am – 3.00pm
Dinner: 5.30pm – 11.00pm