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Where to book a ‘steak-ation’

By SHARWIN TEE, The Philippine STAR Published Feb 09, 2023 5:00 am

When I was young, nothing made me feel more grown up than having steak for dinner. Now, as a (much) older person, steak dinners are still magical to me.

It still feels like a special event, almost like a vacation, and so whenever I find something to celebrate, a steak is still top of mind.

Now, more than ever, celebrating with a steak dinner is pretty convenient, with so many choices available.

Old school

Speaking of growing up, I would often see signs of Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse whenever the family took a trip to the US. In the back of my mind, I’d always wanted to try Ruth’s Chris, but I just never seemed to find the time or opportunity to do so. Imagine my excitement when I accidentally discovered that they opened a branch here while walking the streets of BGC.

We’re now at an age where wagyu beef from all corners of the world is available, so it’s quite refreshing to see a steakhouse that serves “non-wagyu” Omaha steaks.

I find them to be less fatty yet equally tender, and it gives the beef a meatier mouth feel and a less-rich flavor, which means you can enjoy more of it without it being too much.

Their rib-eye steak was cooked perfectly medium-rare and they slice it tableside, serving you slices on plates with garlic butter and salt, which enhances the steak’s natural flavor.

Alternating with bites of the delicious steaks are some awesome sides like potato gratin, where tender potatoes are covered in cream and cheese, plus roasted mushrooms, simple yet wonderfully seasoned.

The Omaha Ribeye at Ruth's Chris has a beautifully deep beef taste.

For appetizers, I got to try their crab cakes, served on a sizzling plate so you can get that lovely, slightly crisp bottom crust, and a chopped salad—crisp and refreshing.

As you may surmise from my account, Ruth’s Chris isn’t going to win any awards for modern creativity, and that is on purpose. They are an old-school American steakhouse, complete with white tablecloths, dark-wood interiors and waiters in white shirts and black vests.

Very few themes stand the test of decades in the restaurant industry, and old-school steakhouses are one of them for a reason. Ruth’s Chris leans into that theme, and they lean into it well.

Ruth's Chris is your classic steakhouse, including well-loved sides like Potato Gratin and Roasted Mushrooms.
New school

It’s almost automatic for a Manila resident to head “South” for a fancy meal, especially a steakhouse, so it wouldn’t be surprising if people had no idea a great steak dinner can be had in the “North.” In Quezon City, there’s a place called Xi by Cafe Guilt.

Xi by Cafe Guilt's Reef and Beef is an update on the classic Surf ‘n’ Turf.

They bill themselves as a fine-dining location in the North, and while I have not tried their tasting menu yet (which needs to be reserved two days in advance), they would be remiss if they also didn’t bill themselves as a place to get great steaks. Their version of one of the world’s oldest combinations, Surf and Turf, is called the Reef and Beef.

Upon ordering, I found a perfectly executed lobster tail sitting atop a juicy Black Angus steak cooked medium-rare. Underneath are some silky truffle mashed potatoes while a surprisingly pleasant cranberry sauce awaits at the side. The cranberries add sweetness and just a hint of tang in the normally one-note Espagnole or brown sauce that the steaks come with and that is most welcome.

Pulpo a la Gallega from Xi byCafe Guilt is a must-order.

Meanwhile, non-steak lovers will also get a kick out of their Pulpo a la Gallega, tender octopus whose chargrilled aroma is intoxicating.

I always know a place is on point when they treat their sides as well as their meats, and the vegetables and potatoes that come with the octopus? Magnificent.

If you’re still hesitating about heading North, X by Cafe Guilt is all the reason you need.

Home school

As big of a steakhouse fan as I am, even I have to admit the white tablecloths and formal settings may be a bit too much sometimes. A chill steak night is the order of the day when that happens and Kobe Jones in Le Grand Tower in Makati fits the bill. Their Angus rib-eye was beautifully cooked medium-rare, with a handful of condiments available to enhance it.

The Jones' Seafood Platter from Kobe Jones is a showstopper.

Their steak was good enough on its own, but I love horseradish and chimichurri and I was so happy they provided it at the table.

For the serious steak lover, they do have the A5 Matsuzaka beef as well. Kobe Jones’ best quality, though, is it doesn’t take itself too seriously, with its chill interiors and vibes feeling like home. Music is turned down low, and so are the lights, providing the perfect atmosphere for warm and intimate conversations among friends.

As their name suggests, this isn’t a pure or traditional steakhouse. Sushi rolls and sashimi platters are available. I suggest getting the Jones Seafood Platter, to enjoy a variety of cold seafood, from sashimi to sushi rolls to fresh oysters. It’s wonderfully presented, too, over ice, complete with smoke and light, making it a pretty good conversation starter.

Kobe Jones does their Angus rib-eye excellently.

Dessert was surprisingly great as well. I’m not a big cheesecake fan, but their yuzu cheesecake was wonderfully creamy, with just the right amount of sweetness. I could have used more yuzu flavor, but that’s just me and my preference for sour things.

School trip

Just like a field trip, we all need to reward ourselves from time to time. I would love to make that a regular thing this 2023. The past few years have shown us how life can turn so quickly, so why not celebrate when there’s an occasion to? Whether it’s at a traditional place or a cozy one, isn’t it time to book your own “steak-ation?”