Local Dining By BLAKE AUSTYN
WARM INTERIOR: Ruth’s Chris Steak House offers an expansive bar and lounge as well as a dining room and private event rooms. The restaurant faces west, offering views of the resort pool and the Arkansas River from the lounge and dining room.
BLAKE AUSTYN for GTR Newspapers
Ruth’s Chris Steak House opened in January at River Spirit Casino Resort, 8330 Riverside Pkwy.
The restaurant sets its elegant ambiance right from its entrance, which features large stately doors off the hotel and casino corridor that lead to the hostess desk and an expansive bar and lounge. In addition, the restaurant’s dining room sits behind the lounge and juts out west toward the Arkansas River, offering views of both the resort pool, to open in the spring, and the river. The dining room also offers private rooms for events.
Sitting in the lounge with the sun just beginning to set and its rays reflecting on the water behind the life-like palm trees that border the pool, I felt transported to a tropical vacation spot.
My party arrived at the restaurant for an early dinner and to take advantage of the restaurant’s moderately-priced happy hour that runs Monday-Friday, 4 p.m.-6:30.
When we first arrived, the bar and lounge held only a scattering of early diners, but by the time we left, close to 7 p.m., the bar and lounge were packed and had been for the past hour at least.
We started with the Barbecue Shrimp, and I can pretty much promise that it is not the taste of barbecue that you are imagining – it’s better.
The shrimp came in a white wine sauce with butter, garlic and spices. Delicious. We held onto the appetizer plate in order to use the bread brought to the table to fully clean the plate of the generous helping of white wine sauce.
For entrees, my father ordered the steak sandwich, which was on the happy hour menu. The meat was tender with a flavorful sauce. Something he would order again, he said.
My mother and I both chose the seasonal prix fixe four-course meals, for either $44.95 or $55.95, depending on the meat choice.
She opted for the six-ounce Filet and Shrimp for $44.95. I chose the Pan-Roasted Black Grouper with Basil Tomato Sauce as my protein for the higher price point.
Because of an error in the kitchen, however, my mother also received a portion of lobster with her entree, which was an unexpected surprise. All of the meats were tender with none of the seafood tasting fishy. The shrimp and the grouper were, possibly, my favorites. I loved the grouper’s tomato basil sauce.
The filet had a good flavor, but, as my mom had ordered it medium well, it was a bit overcooked for my preference.
In addition to the entree, the meal comes with the choice of a soup or salad, side dish, and dessert.
My mother chose the Farmer’s Market Salad, topped with potatoes, bacon, carrots and squash. The combination of the flavors was truly unique and memorable.
I ordered the Tomato Bisque soup, which was a little less creamy than I prefer, but it had a nice flavor.
For our sides, we ordered Mashed Potatoes and the Lyonnaise Fingerling Potatoes. I was pleasantly surprised by the fingerling potatoes – long strips of potato cooked long enough to be soft but not yet crunchy, paired with sautéed onions and spices.
For our dessert, we received Apple Crisp Cheesecake with a side of dark chocolate bark.
I loved the apple chunks in the cheesecake, and the chocolate bark was an extra treat that mellowed out the sweetness of the cheesecake.
Ruth’s Chris Steak House is open for dinner seven days a week: Monday-Thursday 5 p.m.-10, Friday-Saturday 4:30 p.m.-10:30, and Sunday 4:30 p.m.-9. The restaurant takes reservations online and by telephone at 918-995-8600.