‘Steak House’ Is A Dream Come TrueCover Story
June 17, 2018
Story By: Caroline Wright | Photos by: ANTHONY CONSILLIO
Ruth Fertel was a petite firecracker of a woman with a brilliant mind and a winning smile. Born and raised in Louisiana, she graduated from high school at age 15 and from college at age 19, with honors in physics and chemistry. But by 1965 the divorced mother was living on a lab technician’s salary, trying to support two college-bound sons.
That year on a whim she purchased a New Orleans restaurant called Chris Steak House, against the advice of her banker and accountant — she had absolutely no restaurant experience.
“For the first few months, I worked to learn everything — I learned to butcher meat, I learned to cook steaks, I learned to mix drinks,” Fertel explained to Nation’s Restaurant News in 1990.
Fertel sold 35 steaks at $5 apiece on her opening day, worked long hours to build her business, and never looked back. Today, there are more than 150 Ruth’s Chris Steak Houses all over the world.
“Ruth’s Chris Steak House was first introduced to Hawaii in 1989,” says Emi Espinda, director of sales and marketing. “We’ll celebrate our 30th anniversary in 2019.”
The restaurant has locations at Waterfront Plaza and Waikiki Beach Walk, as well as on Maui, Hawaii Island and Kauai. And although her business has grown tremendously, Fertel’s signature touches — the pat of butter crowning every sizzling steak, the cherry wood paneling and the 1,800-degree ovens used to cook dishes to perfection — and many of the eatery’s original menu items have not changed. The eatery’s timeless classics include potatoes au gratin, bread pudding, creamed spinach, and the delectable Barbecued Shrimp ($21), sauteed in a reduction of white wine, butter, garlic and spices.
In addition to epic steaks, the menu includes salads and appetizers, local sashimi and seafood, lamb, poultry and desserts. But steaks are the superstars here, and Porterhouse For Two ($125), a 40-ounce USDA Prime cut, which is as rich as a strip steak and as tender as a filet, is a class act all the way.
For ultimate drama, opt for the magnificent Tomahawk Ribeye ($147), 40 ounces of the finest USDA Prime beef, marbled for peak flavor.
A decadent treat worth trying is Oysters Rockefeller ($20) — five plump baked oysters on the half shell topped with bacon, sauteed spinach, caramelized onions and hollandaise sauce.
On a sweet note, few final acts could top the must-try White Chocolate Bread Pudding ($11), with layers of white chocolate and a lovely creme anglaise made with your choice of Chambord, Tia Maria, Grand Marnier or Frangelico liqueurs.
“Ruth Fertel created a great restaurant because she knew in her heart what was right,” says Espinda. “And what is right at Ruth’s Chris is steak — from the generous hand-cut filets to the art of placing them onto sizzling platters so each steak announces its arrival from across the room, to the last soul-satisfying bite.”
The beloved steakhouse serves mouthwatering dishes seven days a week from 5 to 10 p.m. and offers happy hour specials from 5 to 7 p.m.
WINE AND DINE
The wine list at Ruth’s Chris Steak House encompasses the world’s major wine-producing countries with selections from prominent regions. Red wines are listed from least to most complex, and white wines from sweetest to driest, making it easy for everybody to navigate. Here are a few latest favorites of assistant general manager Matt Iannaccio:
• St. Clement Oroppas Cabernet Sauvignon
• Groth Cabernet Sauvignon
• Salvestrin Cabernet Sauvignon
• The Prisoner’s Thorn Merlot
• Stags’ Leap “The Investor” Red Blend
EVERY DAY CAN BE A CELEBRATION
Hawaii’s aloha spirit and New Orleans’ legendary hospitality seamlessly intertwine at Ruth’s Chris Steak House, making it the ideal place to celebrate any occasion.
“And we love celebrations,” says Emi Espinda, director of sales and marketing. “Birthday and anniversary celebrants receive complimentary champagne, special dessert and a gift certificate.”
The Prime Time Dinner ($54.95) — which includes a salad, an entree choice of petite filet, chicken or fish, a side dish and dessert — is a terrific example of delicious hospitality. This special is available daily, 5-6 p.m.