For our first Do Downtown Restaurant Week visit, Caroline, my parents my grandmother and I all headed downtown to Jeff Ruby’s on Wednesday night around 7 p.m. None of us had been to Jeff Ruby’s before, so we didn’t really know what to expect.
Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse
700 Walnut St
Cincinnati, OH 45202
|Hours:||Mon. – Thu.: 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Fri. & Sat.: 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
|Price Range:||$25 and up|
We had reservations, so the five us were seated immediately. The noise level was a little startling. It gave the impression that the place was packed, with all the clamor and din of lots of people trying to talk over one another, although we did notice there were still a fair share of empty tables.
Our drink orders were taken (water for everyone) and a basket of bread was brought along with plates containing squares of half butter and half mushroom spread. The basket contained both slices of a general soft, white bread and of a tougher, salted bread that tasted like a rye but didn’t entirely look like one.
Opinions differed somewhat on what was good and what wasn’t – I preferred the salted bread with the mushroom spread, Dad preferred it with the butter, Caroline preferred the other bread with the butter, etc. – overall though everyone had a combination they really liked.
For the first course Caroline, my mom and I all chose the Blue Crab Bisque while my grandma and dad went with the Freddie Salad. The Bisque was a pretty standard crab soup garnished with chunks of crab meat, and the Freddie Salad was a romaine salad with Roma tomatoes, bacon and ranch dressing. There was also a Caesar Salad, but no one chose it.
Caroline and I both thought that the bisque was really great. Normally neither of us are very big seafood people, but it was nice and creamy and, even though it had chunks of crab in it, had an excellent flavor that wasn’t the least bit ‘fishy’. Dad and Grandma both said they really enjoyed their salads too, though Dad picked all his tomatoes off to give to Mom like usual.
Something interesting I noticed about the waitstaff is that the waiters always did everything, from taking orders to refilling glasses to serving & collecting the dishes, in order from oldest female to youngest male. We were seated at a round table going clockwise from Grandma to me to Caroline to Dad to Mom and back to Grandma and every time the servers went in order from Grandma to Mom, past Dad to Caroline, back to Dad and the past Caroline again to me.
Now some people might say that’s the proper, polite way to do it, others may see it as inefficient – personally I’m indifferent to it. I just thought it was interesting to note.
For the entrees everyone had their choice of either a 6oz Steak Collinsworth, Grilled Atlantic Salmon or Pan-Roasted Amish Chicken. Everyone in the group went with the 6oz Steak (it is Jeff Ruby’s steakhouse after all), a filet with steamed asparagas, king crab bearnaise and demi-glace. Caroline and I had ours prepared rare, with everyone else requesting medium-rare.
I was really impressed by the steak. It was cooked (or perhaps rather uncooked) just the way I like it. The flavor of the meat was superb, I assume as a result of the dry aging, and the sauce that accompanied everything was fantastic. If I had to pick out something that wasn’t that great it’d have to be the asparagus. Not that it was bad, it was actually cooked really well for asparagus, it’s just that without the sauce it would have been really plain. Caroline did find her steak cooked past rare, but still liked the flavor of the meat and everything that came with it.
Everyone else had really high opinions of the steaks as well. Mom mentioned that she thought hers was so tender she wouldn’t have actually needed the knife. Grandma actually thought it was a lot of food, and asked me to finish the last little bit of hers, but then she doesn’t eat all that much.
For dessert we had our choice between a Classic NY Style Cheesecake with choice of raspberry-pineapple or caramel sauces, an XL Chocolate Sticky Bun with chocolate ganache or homemade cookies and cream ice cream. By the time the ordering had gotten around to me everyone had ordered the cheesecake so I decided to be different and get the sticky bun. Mom and Grandma got their cheesecakes with no sauce, Dad chose the raspberry-pineapple and Caroline went with the caramel sauce.
The chocolate sticky bun, while not what I would call ‘XL’, was actually really good. I’m glad I did choose it over the cheesecake since it was something a little different. It was a rolled, dense chocolate cake covered in a chocolate ganache served nice and warm with vaniall ice cream on the side. That perfect combination of warm, gooey chocolate cake and cold creamy vanialla ice cream made me exceedingly sad at how quickly it was gone.
The bite I had of Caroline’s cheesecake and accompanying caramel sauce was good, althouh nothing made it really special. It was certainly a very high quality cheesecake, but you can get high quality cheesecake at a lot of places and I can’t say I would go out of my way to get cheesecake there. Caroline agreed that is was good, but a little dry for her taste and nothing all that special.
Verdict: Excellent But Pricey
The impression I got from our Restaurant Week visit to Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse was that it is everything it tries to be. The interior was classy and elegant, the waitstaff were as equally well trained as they were dressed, and the food was excellent. All of that comes at a price though, and given the cost of most of the menu items this is definitely a special occasion kind of place. The noise level when we went may have been atypical, but if it wasn’t I would recommend going as a group as opposed to as a couple – having to shout over the table to be heard by your dining partner doesn’t often make for the most romantic dinner.