We do not normally review chain restaurants, but we make an exception for Ruth’s Chris, because 1.) The service is excellent and 2.) A good steak dinner is a wonderful way to celebrate any occasion.
Ruth’s Chris does steak great honor and features lovely locations in Wailea (dark-paneled, intimate), and Lahaina (same paneling, same half-round booths, with a lovely view of the ocean thrown in).
Beef is one of our favorite ways to get protein, iron, B vitamins, and zinc into our diet. We’re not sure that we need the sizzling butter sauce that dances around the steaks — which are served on exceedingly hot plates dotted with parsley — but we don’t mind it. Seared at 1800˚F, the filet is tender enough to cut with a butter knife, and the rib eye is our favorite cut. The sustainable foodies in us wish the beef were local, but we admit, grudgingly, that local beef is not yet as beautifully textured or consistently high quality as the beef from the Midwest.
Ruth’s Chris does use local ingredients in their side dishes — and the flavor results are excellent. The salads are crisp and colorful Kula greens and other vegetables grown on Haleakala (not in California). The well-balanced dressings are homemade. The steakhouse salad — iceberg, micro greens, carrots, tomatoes — is generous and delicious with the traditional blue cheese dressing. The Caesar is garlicky and has an excellent anchovy flavor without the chunks of fish that can distress some diners.
Sides are typical of steakhouse menus and plenty big enough to split. We can’t help but love the simplest: potatoes whipped with butter until pillow-y and seasoned with a sure hand, and spinach so perfectly integrated with cream that it becomes almost spinach butter.
The wine list is very good, and we like that they have several half bottles and glasses available.
The service, however, sets Ruth’s Chris apart. Servers show up on time, check back often without interrupting, and clear and clean without being intrusive. They know the menu, can offer good advice, and exude genuine hospitality. They also handle that crucial skill, upselling, with poise. This is so universally true in our experience that we once asked a server in Wailea what the restaurant’s secret is.
“We all ‘hui it up,’” he said, “and work as a team.”
“Everyone, back and front of the house, understands that the success of the restaurant rides on our shoulders, and that everyone must be fully committed, trained well, and working hard all the time.”
We commented that this level of service isn’t always found on Maui.
“Well, we all have mortgages and families,” he replied, “and we know that diners are the ones who pay us. So we stay focused on you and make sure you’re happy, even if you’re not at ‘our’ table.”
“If someone gets off track, we all make sure that they get back on, in a hurry.”
Might we humbly suggest that this attitude be adopted by other Maui restaurants?
Address: 3750 Wailea Alanui Dr., Wailea, South Maui
Location: in the Shops at Wailea
Hours: Nightly 5pm-10pm
Address: 900 Front St., Lahaina, West Maui
Location: at the very end of the seawall, near the Hard Rock Cafe
Hours: Nightly 5pm-10pm
Parking: Lot (validated), Street