Joining the list of local eateries focusing on quality food and low costs is none other than Ruth Chris’ Steak House. In May, Ruth Chris’, known for it’s executive stylings and platinum prices, rolled out Ruth Chris’ Prime Lounge: a cocktail-hour style menu offering small and large courses with a peak price of $16. The Prime Lounge is currently only available in Maryland and the Triangle.
The menu is casual and recognizable, based on American Classics and comfort dishes. My meal, narrated by Director of Marketing Heather Renz and executive chef Matt Bowling, was a collection of the menu’s best sellers like buffalo shrimp and meatloaf.
Twisted Buffalo Shrimp, the lightest of the offerings this evening, were prepared creatively and simply. By cutting the shrimp down the center lengthwise (a favorite practice of my own) and lightly battering in a spicy cornmeal crust the shrimp are almost guaranteed to be cooked perfectly once golden brown. I prefer these sweet, zippy morsels with just a little lemon, but they’re also served along side a fiery aioli for heavier dunking.
Tenderloin Capri Sliders, marinated strips of beef tenderloin flash-grilled and topped with buffalo mozzarella, tomato, and fried basil was an interesting, all be it one note, interpretaion of the White Castle staple. The bun, a buttery brioche, along with the tender top-grade beef, milky mozzarella, and ripe tomato lacked any explosive texture but the flavors were spot on. With 3 sliders per plate I see myself sharing this with friends while munching on some of RC’s homemade chips next time.
While it’s the Prime Lounge’s best selling item, I found the Lobster Mac n Cheese awkwardly fishy. I a man who loves his sardines, anchovies, you name it, but there’s nothing exciting about the odd flavor/aroma of past-due maritime products. Lobster is sweet and rich but it’s flavor and texture are easily lost in a pool of cheese and cream. I’m willing to dive back in just incase I caught a rough batch but I will forever prefer my seafood and cheese separate at birth and death.
Lastly, one of the largest items on the Prime Lounge menu, was the Roasted Wild Mushroom Meatloaf. I, like you I suspect, grew up eating my grandmothers meatloaf and eye others in caution (especially restaurants) but Chef Matt’s lucious loaf of meaty goodness smothered in a creamy jus of roasted mixed mushrooms is worth lowering my guard. The slices are huge, 2” thick, and 4 per plate is enough to feed 1.5 of Me’s but the large slices are surprisingly light, well balanced and seasoned with an umami-laden gravy to die for. Bravo Chef.
The new Prime Lounge menu is a smart choice by the Ruth Chris’ family, one that I’m sure will bring them new and lasting patrons. If the menu were not enough, the Prime Lounge’s Tuesday and Thursday specials ($8.99 for everything on the menu) is a steal considering how much food you get per plate. And don’t worry, you don’t have to wear a suit or plan to discuss world trading markets and business plans, the dress code is almost as casual as the food.
Rating: 3.5 Stars