Posted by: smirkdirk | July 4, 2009

Ruth’s Chris or Morton’s?

VS.

Bing, Bing! (the opening bell)

Last night we finally went to Ruth’s Chris after three years of thinking about going to Ruth’s Chris.

You see, the lady and I, for the last ten years have been exclusively Morton’s, not because we’re being closed minded, but because its just so damn good and when you’re spending that kind of money on a single meal, something we do only 3 or 4 times a year, why take chances? Morton’s has always been a sure thing for us.

Our Morton’s tradition began a month or so after we met, and was handed down to her from a previous boyfriend (a bastard, but a bastard with impeccable taste in restaurants) who had introduced her to the place.

Many of our special occasions have been spent in the warm embrace of Morton’s booths in uptown Charlotte, from anniversaries to birthdays – and a couple years ago we even began taking the kids with us on occasion and they have also become fans. From the future lucky girlfriends of the boy, I will expect a thank you someday as he probably will wine and dine you there depending on how much money he has in his pocket and how much he likes you, and for the future boyfriends of the girl – save your money because sooner or later she will expect you to take her there; my apologies in advance for your lightened wallet.

So, yesterday, we went to Ruth’s Chris because we’ve been meaning to try it. Our waiter, who was obviously and earnestly a very big fan of his establishment gave us a brief history of the place, (along with a sample of wine and beer) and called it the best steakhouse in the world.

So, down to brass tacks, is it better than Morton’s of Chicago?
I hate to say it because it is very, very good, but the answer is no. Now, if there were no Morton’s in our area, Ruth’s Chris would no doubt be an excellent substitute, but given a choice, Morton’s, for me anyway, beats them out by just a hair.

It is almost not fair to set up a versus dichotomy though. In some ways they are neither better nor worse than the other – just different. Ruth’s Chris serves their steak on a 500 degree plate – an aspect I really liked. As you put your sides (we ordered sauteed mushrooms and mashed potatoes) from your serving dish onto your plate, they cook just a little more. So then as you take them from your plate to your palate, the sensation is one of just out of the pan. Each bite is fresh.

But overall I think Morton’s steaks are just a tad bit more flavorful, their sides just a tad bit larger. (And dude, Mac and Cheese – they just started that, like, a year ago and it left me speechless.)

At either place, even taking advantage of the specials they are running in our down economy (Morton’s is running a steak and seafood for two for $99 special, and Ruth’s is offering a 3-course meal at $40 to $50 per person,) with drinks and tip, you are not going to escape for less than $175.

Morton’s offers you their rather famous molten chocolate cake as part of their special:

Whereas Ruth’s settles for a fruit concoction served with a cup of smooth sorbet, that while good, is not nearly as mind-blowing as Morton’s cake.

The last thing I will mention is the mood and ambiance of each place. Going into Morton’s in Charlotte (the only Morton’s I’ve ever been to) is like stepping into the rat-pack era, with matching music, Frank Sinatra playing audibly in the background, black and white photos of various celebs and their autographs line the walls. It feels old-school classy, cool but not stuffy. Ruth’s, on the other hand, goes for a more contemporary vibe – smooth jazz plays, flat-screens play silently above the bar, and, no joke, above the urinals.

Great places, both of them, and I’m sure we will return to Ruth’s again, but there is just no getting the monkey that is Morton’s off my back.

Happy 4th! Here’s 100,000 bottle rockets in 15 seconds.

(yeah, I know, kinda underwhelming…. guess you had to be there.)

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