Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, the world’s largest fine dining company, finally opens in Manila

Where to go when you want to dress up for a ribeye that’s sizzling on a 500-degree Fahrenheit plate

WELL DONE! Steaks done to perfection

If you want to feel like Manila dining is back in full force, go to Ruth’s Chris.

When I did, as soon as I set foot inside the spanking new restaurant on the second floor of ORE Central on 31st Street in BGC, I regretted not bringing along a dinner jacket.

Ruth’s Chris Steak House opened in Manila only recently, just as the Philippines’ National Capital Region was going one step forward and then two steps backward, two steps forward and then three steps backward in its fight against COVID-19.

MEAT THE OWNER Ruth Fertel cooking her famous corn-fed steaks at the North Broad restaurant

It was a bold statement, and a loud expression of faith in the Philippines, even in its state of arrested development, not entirely the fault of anyone in charge of dealing directly with this unprecedented crisis, but if anything, the rest of the world, just as we are, is realizing that we can’t wait for kingdom come to give the economy what it needs to keep going. I mean, hey, the pub scene in London is alive again. Kudos to Luigi Vera and Richie Yang, and their other friends, for bringing this New Orleans institution to Manila!

So I went to Ruth’s Chris, mask and face shield strapped to my face, though even the government has decided that a face shield is no longer necessary, if it ever was, with everything I need, including my vaccination card and a pocket size hand sanitizer with vitamin E and glycerine. My only regret was I didn’t bring a dinner jacket.

SAVOR ELEGANCE Clockwise from top left: The facade, interior, and private room of the new steak house

From the entrance, you walk through a narrow hall not unlike the dining room of a luxury train, like the Orient Express back when it conveyed passengers like Princess Natalia Dragomiroff and the Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot from Istanbul to London. There’s a sense of being away, with an Art Deco touch to the interiors, replete with gleaming fixtures, dark woods, white linen, and designer lighting. After all, Ruth’s Chris is in some 21 countries, serving in over 100 locations in the US, Canada, and Mexico alone, but there about 50 more locations elsewhere in the world, like Taipei, Jakarta, and Singapore.

The story of Ruth’s Chris Steak House began in 1965 when, against everyone’s advice, a 38-year-old divorcée, New Orleans-born Ruth Fertel, née Udstad, once a top student with a degree she earned at 19 in Chemistry and Physics from the Louisiana State University to her name, bought Chris Steak House, a 60-seat steakhouse in New Orleans, to help herself raise two teenaged sons. A fire gutted the restaurant 10 years later, forcing its owner to relocate to Baton Rouge to keep the business going, only to realize that it was stipulated in the contract that she could not move the restaurant elsewhere. It sure was a big headache back then, but it was just a matter of making the steakhouse even more her own, by adding her name to the brand nomenclature. Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse opened in Baton Rouge in 1976 and the rest, now that it is all over the world, is history.

BIG MEAL, BIGGER MEAT Appetizers mushroom stuffed with crab meat, shrimp remoulade, and seared ahi-tuna

Perhaps more crucial to the brand history was Ruth Fertel’s discovery in 1967 that a 500 degree Fahrenheit plate, on which to serve the steak with a dab of butter, created what is now referred to as the iconic sizzle. What’s more, serving it this way kept the steak hot to the last bite to the satisfaction of the customer. Now, as Ruth put her chemistry background to good use, it is a tradition at Ruth’s Chris, whether in Cancún or in Tokyo. Whatever meat it is you wish for, the New York Strip or the T-bone or the ribeye, it goes from as hot as 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit in the steakhouse’s proprietary broiler to a plate sizzling at 500 degrees, as if to finish its obligatory “rest” in front of you.

The original recipe of success is perfect steak, warm hospitality, and good times that never stop rolling. —Ruth Fertel

This is what has made Ruth’s Chris a leader among upscale steak houses in the world over the years. It is also the world’s largest fine dining company. “Our perfected broiling method and seasoning techniques ensures that each cut of USDA prime beef will arrive cooked to perfection and sizzling on a 500° plate that will make your last bite as good as your first,” says the team behind the restaurant, and—to me—it’s more than a marketing platitude. I wiped the ribeye that was nearly as big as my face off the sizzling-hot plate.

STEAK-CATION The first guests of the opening night at Ruth's Chris Steak House Manila are (from left) Dong Ronquillo, Ria Prieto, Isabel Francisco, Angelo Comsti, AA Patawaran, Shiela Romero, Tim Yap, Luigi Vera, Ces Drilon, and Javi Martinez

Lest I give you the wrong impression, let me make it clear that while a good steak—for which they only use the best beef, such as Angus, Herefords, or Shorthorn beef—is at the core of Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, it gives as much care to the other highlights on its menu, such as the crowd favorite Sizzling Crab Cakes drizzled in lemon butter and the famous Jumbo Chop Salad with red onions, bacon, basil, olives, mushrooms, and crumbled bleu cheese in the mix. On the international menu, there’s also the Chilled Seafood Tower with king crab, lump crab, lobster, and shrimp and the Veal Osso Buco Ravioli. Each item on the desserts menu is handcrafted, house-prepared. I had the Chocolate Sin Cake and the fresh berries Cheesecake with coffee on my visit, but I neglected to check if Manila carried the Crème Brûlée or the Jack Daniels Whiskey-infused Bread Pudding.

The restaurant in many locations around the world is known to cater even to specialty diets, meaning it has something equally good for diners who are on keto, who want no gluten, or who want to keep it light. I’m sure there are more surprises on the menu even for me, a certified carnivore, so I have every reason to return. But right now, I’m raring to go because I can’t wait to get dressed for dinner again.

Ruth’s Chris Steak House is at 2F ORE Central, 31st Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, 1630 Metro Manila. Email or follow @ruthschrisph on Facebook and Instagram.