The filet mignon at Ruth's Chris Steak House (Photo courtesy of Ruth's Chris Steak House)

Forging its first footprint in Suffolk County, the renowned Ruth’s Chris Steak House opened its newest location at Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove on Dec. 6, celebrating the occasion by presenting a $10,000 check to benefit Long Island’s leading hunger relief organization, Island Harvest.

Synonymous in many local steak lovers’ minds with its Manhattan, Brooklyn, New Jersey and Garden City locations, the Lake Grove opening is the latest in a recent expansion to the ever-growing chain of more than 100 steakhouses across North America. Another is scheduled to open in Melville in late January 2022.

Ruth’s Chris prides itself on serving top-quality meats — specializing in the highest-quality, custom-aged Midwestern beef. It remains true to the recipe of its namesake owner Ruth Fertel, who purchased predecessor Chris Steakhouse in New Orleans in 1965: the freshest, prime U.S.D.A. cuts broiled at 1,800 degrees, exactly how customers want them, and served sizzling in butter on a heated plate so they stay hot throughout the meal. Patrons can hear that sizzle before their dishes even reach the table.

Part of that generous charitable donation to Island Harvest was derived from a very special V.I.P. fundraising feast the weekend prior to the grand opening. Joining me for this extraordinary meal previewing the debut was none other than longtime Press food critic Chris Cooke.

Every great steak deserves an equally high-caliber beverage, and so we kicked off with two of the restaurant’s signatures: the raspberry cosmo for myself, and the gambler’s old-fashioned for Cooke. Crafted with Effen Raspberry Vodka, cointreau, and fresh cranberry and lime, the cosmo was a fruity and flavorful breeze that left me refreshed and thirsty for more. Consisting of Knob Creek, Demerara, The Bitter Truth Aromatic Bitters, and of course, two maraschino cherries, the old-fashioned was Ruth’s favorite, and well worth that crown. We clinked to the special blessing that was our invitation here.

Soon, our incredible waiter Aaron brought our appetizers: the sizzling crab cakes and the tuna stack. As the former’s name suggests, these crustaceans were sizzlin’ and a perfect warmup for the entrees awaiting us. Dome-shaped, ever so crispy on the outside yet moist and tender and chock-full of crab on the inside, this jumbo duo slathered in lemon butter was smooth and filling.

The tuna stack was a multitiered tower of bright, colorful (fresh) ahi tuna with a healthy dousing of soy ginger sesame sauce and avocado, topped with English cucumber salad, and accompanied by crunchy, joyous sesame-seed wonton chips. Yes, this dish was as dreamy as all those ingredients imply!

We celebrated with more handcrafted cocktails. Cooke ordered Ruth’s Manhattan — a medley of Woodford Reserve, Southern Comfort, and black cherry. I went with the absolutely breathtaking blueberry mojito. It came with a tiny spear of five blueberries submerged in a gorgeous pool of Bacardi Superior, with so much fresh mint and lime you could smell that relaxing aroma with merely a passing whiff. Needless to say, this became a repeat accompaniment throughout our meal — “For the story,” of course, as Cooke consistently reminded me as we added more and more to our seemingly never-ending smorgasbord.

A special note here for the incredible, incredible lobster bisque. Have you ever been at a restaurant and craved this special soup only to be served some thin, watery broth devoid of any lobster meat at all? Well, this is the exact opposite. Thick, creamy, and served New Orleans-style, this dish was loaded with bountiful chunks of the sought-after crustacean, and oh-so flavorful with a hint of a smoky aftertaste. I could and would have enjoyed another had it not been for our eager anticipation of the main event.

I went with the cowboy ribeye — a 22-ounce, bone-in cut of U.S.D.A. Prime. Cooke ordered himself the ginormous 40-ounce, U.S.D.A. prime porterhouse for two.

“A masterpiece!” declared Aaron as he plopped another two sizzling platters of three-cheese lobster mac and cheese and garlic mashed potatoes alongside the steaks.

One bite in, and the decision was unanimous and resounding: “Heaven.”

The steaks cut like butter and were absolutely delicious. In fact, that word doesn’t even do these cuts justice.

“Heaven,” reiterated Aaron.

Heaven, indeed.

At Cooke’s urging, we ordered dessert: the insane cheesecake, and the super-rich, yet flourless, ganache chocolate sin cake, served with gorgeous gooey stripes of fresh raspberry sauce.

“What’s better than heaven?” we asked.

“Chocolate paradise,” Aaron replied.

Ruth’s Chris Steak House is located at 472 Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove. For more information, visit RuthsChris.com or call 631-973-4230. For more information about Island Harvest, or to make a donation, please visit IslandHarvest.org.

For more food and drink coverage, visit longislandpress.com/category/food-drink.

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