We recently ate at Ruth's Chris in Philadelphia and had an amazing experience, so decided to drive an hour plus for date night in Annapolis. We arrived for our 8 p.m. reservation to an empty host stand, where we waiting for 10 minutes before someone appeared. That should have been our first clue.
Our waiter was friendly, and we ordered the ($59) seafood tower to start, and then salads plus filets. Our lives are extremely hectic and we hoped for a relaxing dinner. The tower arrived, shortly followed with our salads (mine was overdressed) - this was fine as our waiter asked if we wanted to wait or not. The problems, however, soon started.
We hadn't finished the tower and were halfway through salads when our waiter told us our entrees were ready and would we like to wait. Yes. We wanted to wait. He left and we continued eating.
Less than 5 minutes later our food arrived. The waitress actually made me move the salad I was eating so she could set down my filet. Irritation immediately set in. My guess is the waiter either fired our food too early, or the chef forced it out. Either way - unacceptable.
I went to the bathroom (which I couldn't find - three employees standing in the hall and I had to ask for guidance) and when I came back our filets were gone. My husband had sent his back - it was cold. The waiter took both, which is appropriate.
We waited and waited and my husband continued eating his lobster, then realized his lobster cracker had been cleared in the servers' haste. I had to flag down a busboy, who was changing the tablecloth at the table next to us. He told me to wait. Once he finished, he brought the cracker so my husband could finish his lobster.
After a wait that stretched too long our new filets arrived. We both ordered medium rare - my husband's was nearly inedible - blue. He lacked the energy at that point to say anything, so he ate what he could.
The waiter brought us 'new, fresh' bread. We soon realized our knives, aside from our steak knives, had been cleared. A minute thing if isolated, but at this price point I'd expect a server to notice the details, like missing utensils.
About halfway through the steak what we assume is a manager visited and asked how things were. My husband explained about the cold steaks. The manager did not apologize and instead countered, 'How were the second ones?"
His solution was to let us pick any dessert off the menu rather than have the one offered with the $59.95 classic option that we had selected. That classic dessert, by the way, was the saddest apple galette I've encountered.
To sum, here is how the restaurant could improve with better management:
Properly trained waitstaff. Simple things like attentiveness, noticing missing utensils, directing guests to the bathroom, etc. are expected at this level of dining.
Train the staff not to rush guests. Don't let them place a $50 piece of meat down at a table when someone is still eating, especially after they've asked you to wait.
Don't let your host/hostess leave the stand unattended for 10 minutes. First impressions set the tone and it isn't a good look.
Get the kitchen staff up to par. If you promote 500 degree, sizzling plates make darn sure you send them out like that. There is never an excuse for letting cuts of meat that cost that much sit under a heat lamp. Get the timing down and do justice to the Ruth's Chris name and reputation.
Find a manager who better knows how to deal with issues. Apologies are not underrated.
In summary, we left irritated and disappointed. We have no problem spending money on good food and eat out regularly. We are Lewnes people and only came here for the seafood tower. We will not return, and will ensure our friends that unlike most, this Ruth's Chris is best avoided.
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