Posts Tagged ‘walnut creek’

Ruth’s Chris Steak House

I’ll begin with the moral of the story: always look for those secret gems!

So everybody knows Ruth’s Chris Steak House. It’s a chain Steak House, not known for it’s presentation, but known for its tasty, though quite expensive, steak. My friend Patrick and I had actually been for steak just weeks before, having bought some coupon online to get $75 for just $50. The steak was delicious, duh, but we’re here to talk about the burger.

Well, let’s do a little tangent, first, and amuse bouche of sorts. A lot of people have asked, why is the name “Ruth‘s Chris”? From my understanding, there was a place called Chris Steak House, and a lady named Ruth bought it. She decided to keep the Chris name there, due to the previous popularity of the restaurant, and hence the somewhat ridiculous name. Ah but yes, the burger.

So Ruth’s Chris has an extensive bar, like many high-end restaurants. And like the steak, the drinks aren’t cheap. But on the back page of the extensive drinks list, there is a small bar food menu, not advertised, and quite easily overlooked. There’s a steak sandwich, onion rings, and, wouldn’t you know it, a burger!

I actually found out about this menu from my cousin, who frequents the establishment for this secret burger. When she told me that it costs just $10, I relayed this information quickly to my friend Patrick, and we now had a great use for the remaining balance on our gift card! Score!

We were seated in the bar in view of the SF Giants game (always a plus), and were even served the warm bread we’d normally be served ordering steak! Sure enough, for $10, there was a burger, with fries, on the bar menu. I had extremely high hopes, since I figure RC uses pretty good quality meat, right?

We also ordered sparkling lemonade. I was shocked to learn that this clearly house-made beverage comes with unlimited refills. This is almost too good to be true. But would the burger hold up?

Let me tell you, the burger was delightful. A gigantic patty, cooked with the same precision, to the same precise doneness as one would expect a $40+ steak. And to be honest, at Ruth’s Chris, I’d expect no less. And the burger just keeps going. It’s every bit of 8 oz. of melt-in-your-mouth burger. I made it through half, and already felt full, but then I came to my gustatory sense[s], and promptly wolfed down the rest of it. I’m going to guess it’s closer to 25/75 fat/lean than the standard 20/80, so expect to go all out if you’re eating this dinner. But bite after bite, the patty just keeps melting in your mouth, and you just remain in burger nirvana. And if/when you finally finish it (I won’t judge you if there’s some left!), you’re ready to sit back in your comfy booth, and bask in the post-burger glow.

The fries were plentiful, and nicely seasoned (yeah I had a few before this picture was taken). A nice bonus, considering the price.

This is one of those times where I almost want to keep this seemingly well-kept secret for myself, but ultimately I must do my sworn duty as a food blogger, and spill the beans…er…beef. So I hope you’ll take my advice and try this super deal out for yourself. With the sparkling lemonade, tax, and tip, we each spent about $18. But for $10 pretax, this burger is a steal.

And I shouldn’t neglect to mention the service. Since Ruth’s Chris is branded as a fine-dining restaurant, the service has to match up. Sometimes this rule isn’t as apparent in the bar area, but in this case, we were treated to top-notch service. Never had to ask for anything refilled, food was served promptly, and we weren’t rushed out when we opted to have another lemonade and watch a bit of the baseball game, having some time to kill before a movie across the street.

While I highly recommend you come here for steak, I even more highly recommend you head for the bar, and try the Ruth’s Chris burger. In my top 5 best burgers, as of mid-2012, for sure.

The Last Bite:

Burger Rating: A

Overall Experience (sides, service, cleanliness, price, etc.): A

Update as of October 2012:

We returned to Ruth’s Chris for another burger, and learned that additions of cheese, bacon, grilled onions and grilled mushrooms are completely free. Highway robbery, I tell you.



Evie’s Hamburgers

This entry is being posted a bit on the late side, trying to get the archives unloaded here!

The Northgate area of Walnut Creek isn’t usually a destination for people who live outside the area. The only reason I ended up at Evie’s was that my dad and I were early for a home inspection, and I’d noticed this place online before.

Evie’s screams rural roadside drive-in. Put this place in any small town in Texas or the midwest, and it’d be the go-to hangout. Not that Northgate is by any means the “old” Walnut Creek, but given the never-ending makeover of downtown, the east side of town has begun to feel…older. In a sense, Evie’s fits better here. (Note that Evie’s itself is a restaurant in a generic plaza, there’s no drive in or anything – it’s just the emotion that was evoked once I was inside).

So I’ll have to invite you to picture what the inside of Evie’s looks like, as I didn’t want to be too foodie crazy during a work lunch. But suffice to say it’s a fairly typical diner, with big old menus behind the order-at-the front cash register. The first thing you really notice is the price. On a budget? Hamburger and fries is $4.60. Feeling splurgy? A large order of fries and double cheeseburger will run you…$6.80. In this particular case, I opted for a double hamburger with a small side of fries, for $5.60.

When I visited Evie’s the burger meat was listed as “Kobe beef patties”. You can find my analysis of the “Kobe beef burger” scamĀ here. I’m happy to see that since I ate here, the menu now lists the meat as “our special blend of select beef.” I don’t know what that means, but you’re not getting overcharged here, so I don’t really care (as long as the burger tastes good!)

Food came pretty quickly, about as I expected for a half-full burger place around 1 PM on a weekday.

My first impressions of my meal were what evoked the images of the roadside joint – simple food served in the red-striped boats. Thin broiled patties with sesame seed buns and thick golden fries. Brought back memories of a roadside place near my home in Connecticut in the 90s.

So with all this nostalgia, how good was the actual burger?

My double hamburger had its ups and downs. In hindsight I wish I’d ordered a double cheeseburger, due to the cooking of the patties.

Often, people will press the spatula down on the burger patty while it’s on the grill to cook it faster. The problem with this practice, especially with thin patties, is that all the good stuff is getting pushed out of the burger, and you’re left with a dry, overcooked flimsy thing. Unfortunately, that’s a NEGATIVE memory I associate with roadside drive-ins, so my nostalgia was augmented in this regard. The patties were definitely thin. They had that nice charbroiled taste on the outside, but the inside was pretty clearly overcooked, and quite dry. I can’t help but think a spatula was pushing them up against the grill for too long.

As a result, the burger was quite bland – the nice char on the outside just couldn’t compensate for the grey interior. Unfortunate, really. Some cheese would definitely have mitigated the dryness and blandness, but ultimately I’d just prefer a properly cooked burger. If the patties were cooked properly, with some cheddar cheese melted over them, I could see a huge improvement in my opinion, since I’m a sucker for a bargain, and the prices here are second to nothing but In-n-Out.

Sizewise, I have a big appetite, so the second patty is a must in my book, as a Big One isn’t really very big. A Double Big One, however, is a good size, and I recommend the double side of cheese added to it. You can see for yourself in the above picture that the portions aren’t very big; that said, they’re more than fair for the price.

Not too much to say about the fries. They’re pretty standard thick cut fries. If I had my guess, I’d say they’re frozen, but you can escape with that if they’re fried well. They were fried well, but were quite lacking in salt. Yeah, big deal, so I salted them on my own at the table, but shakin’ them up in a silver bowl with some salt really would’ve elevated all that soft potato inside the fried outside, since they pretty clearly understand how to fry potatoes to perfection!

There’s not much in the way of service, since you order at the counter, and the only real interaction after that is the serving of your food in those iconic red striped boats, but I get the feeling that Evie’s is a family affair, and the staff seemed to enjoy what they were doing.

It was a quick lunch, but I like what Evie’s represents, and I think there’s some potential here. It seems like they have a pretty loyal following, and for people who do live out in the back of Walnut Creek, this is one of a couple good restaurants nearby. I don’t think I’d come back again unless I’m in the area, but if you’re feeling nostalgic for simpler times, I’d definitely recommend Evie’s to you.

The Last Bite:

Burger Rating: C+

Overall Experience (sides, service, cleanliness, price, etc.): A (fantastic fries, memorable service+experience): B-

Keep on nomming!