I've been to a LOT of Mortons....and I have to say that I really love the place. For a chain restaurant, it's about as good as it gets.
I'd never been to a Ruth's Chris, so on our trip to the CMA in Nashville last week I thought I'd try both Morton's and RC for a direct comparison.
First Ruth's Chris:
My first impression came from the fact that there was a little plastic sign on the table with a picture of a steak. What the F&*% is *that* all about. Is this Denny's....or an upscale steak house? I'm pretty sure that everyone willing to spend $200++ on dinner knows what a steak looks like without having a cheap plastic sign reminder on the table. A small thing, but it was an early warning of things to come. I'm not a huge fan of the "show and tell" presentation at Morton's...but at least it's a live demo. A plastic picture of the food on the table? Please. Taco Bell puts up plastic pictures of it's food.
For first courses......I got the Lobster Bisque, which was actually pretty good....without a doubt the best dish of the meal. It's not NEARLY the quality that you'd get in a good French restaurant, but it was perfectly edible.
My wife got "Barbequed Shrimp" for a first course. Now, we've had this fantastic dish at a number of places in New Orleans and LOVE it... but I'm sorry to say that Ruth's Chis' version is a borderline disaster. If Emeril's BBQ Shrimp are a 9...and K-Paul's are a 10 (which they are)...I'd make RC's a 2. Not good.
The bread that comes out pre-meal is another area where Morton's blows RC off the map. Morton's absolutely DELICIOUS onion loaf is one of my favorite breads anywhere...and in-and-of itself would be enough to get me into Mortons. At RC we got a borrrrring white stick of bread. Ok, for what it was, but not even *remotely* interesting.
Haha...it must sound like I'm somebody who has some sort of personal grudge against Ruth's Chris...but the fact is that I was looking forward to it and very much wanted it to be good.
The worst of the meal was yet to come....
I got Lamb Chops...which were actually quite good...although VERY underdone....I ordred medium rare, and they came out almost alive. I ended up carving off the outside edges...which were very good, and leaving the centers. My wife's filet came out raw, despite her having ordred it Medium Rare. She sent it back without having tasted it. When it returned it was Medium Well, I'd guess. In any case, and I swear I am not exagerating one bit...it was the worst tasting steak I've ever eaten. I'd HAPPILY take the $8 sirloin at the Sizzler over RC's steak. I can't describe the horid taste of this piece of shoeleather on a family forum....but suffice it to say that there can't be a worse steak in the Western world. They took it off the bill (it goes without saying)...but our long-anticipated meal was pretty much a disaster.
We also ordred a few sides.....the Creamed Spinach was pretty good (try to ruin it...spinach, cream, butter...you're done), but the gratin potatoes were VERY weak. Just a bunch of cheddar cheese melted over some sliced potatoes....not even a shadow of a proper dauphanoise/Au Gratin...which would NEVER use Cheddar. The baked potato came out wrapped in foil. Maybe it's just me....but I think of this as something you'd find at Denny's or the Sizzler...not a place with pretentions of being a "Classy" joint.
The Bread Pudding was not at all good...and drowning in butter (like almost every other dish served at RC). The apple crumble was ok.
Overall...I'd rate Ruth's Chris a 3 out of ten...and only because of the pretty-good Lobster Bisque and Lamb Chops is it *that* high.
Morton's isn't perfect....their "Caesar" salad *isn't*....it's a mayo-based...overly anchovied concoction...that's edible...but should NOT be called a Caesar any more than it should be called a lawnmower. The "Morton's Salad" is great...one of the best Blue Cheese dressings I've had.
First courses at Morton's are a little spotty....the Shrimp Alexander is sensational....but the one time I tried the scallops in bacon I wasn't wowed...but I know others who like them. Mostly, I'd like a few more choices....and almost always end up getting the Shrimp Alexander because there aren't many appetizers to pick from(which ain't exactly a hardship:)
The steaks at Morton's are excellent...not the best I've had....but very, very good. Their filet with Bernaise sauce is about perfect. The porterhouse is also a standout.....and the Cajun Ribeye is delicious (though it's no match for the "Bone-in Ribeye" at Delmonico in Las Vegas...which also has Cajun seasoning, even though the menu doesn't advise you of this. I'll nominate Delmonico's Bone-in Ribeye as the best single steak on the planet.
The side dishes at Mortons are fine...the baked potatoes are nice(and no foil)...and the hashbrowns are kind of a love-em or hate-em affair. I love 'em...the wife thought that McDonald's hash browns were better (having said that, McDonald's hash browns are great).
On the desert front.....there is NO comparison between Morton's and RC. The Chocolate Godiva cake at Morton's is *light years* better than anything we had at Ruth's Chris.
And last but not least....the bastards at Ruth's Chris ripped us off on the wine. They had one bottle of Champagne that was identified as being from California........then a few French ones at MUCH higher prices....one of which was Tattinger...which we ordered. What should appear at our table.....the *California* Tattinger.....which isn't nearly as good (or expensive)...although it was $80 on the RC wine list. This was, I admit, a *little* cheap for the French version....but a real outrage for the California plonk that they brought out. What really pissed me off was the deception involved. How many restaurants would say "Mumms" champagne on the wine list......price it at, say, £80, and then bring out the *Napa* Mumms....instead of the real one (I must say, however, that the Napa Mumms is great stuff, I merely use it as an example).
At Morton's we brought along a very special bottle of Bordeaux...a 1985 Cheval Blanc...which would be at least $800 on a wine list. We'd been saving it for a special meal...and to me, a meal at Morton's *is* special. They kindly waved any corkage fee, which I thought was a nice gesture (or course we *did* order a $130 bottle of champagne with our first courses).
Anyway....I've seen a lot of debates back and forth over the years as to whether Ruth's Chris or Morton's is the best.
To me......it's a joke to even bring up the comparison, Morton's wins by 500 miles.
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