Shake + Stir: Ruth's Chris Steak House
CVLUX invited a group of Valley women to an invitation-only, afternoon Shake + Stir, which for this issue, was held in a private dining room at Ruth’s Chris Steak House in the River Park Shopping Center in Fresno. The group, which included Karen McCaffrey, Carol DeFendis, Rema Koligian, Cortney Snapp, Kathy Stypula, Linda Penner and Donna Kaczmarski, sampled a delicious variety of appetizers, cocktails and desserts, personally selected and presented by the Ruth’s Chris Steak House sales and marketing manager, Haley Wagner.
Donna greeted each of the invitees in the bar, which is just steps from the front door of Ruth’s Chris Steak House. As each member of the group arrived, bartender, Brandon Cobarrubias, was busily hand-squeezing dozens of lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruit, in preparation for creating the fresh-squeezed juices for the afternoon’s cocktails, filling the air with a delicate citrus aroma.
Haley ushered the women into a private dining room and refilled their glasses of champagne. The room was quietly elegant with a warm, cozy feel, perfect for the Shake + Stir group. Everyone remarked on the exquisite floral centerpiece created by Mariah Walton of Simply Flowers. Tangerine orchids, blood red tulips and cabbage-hued hydrangea were artfully arranged in a round mercury glass bowl.
Fittingly, the first Ruth’s Chris appetizer the group tasted was the mouth-watering Steak Sandwich, a sliced filet prepared with Béarnaise sauce, served with lettuce, tomato and onion on freshly- toasted garlic bread. Haley explained that though Ruth’s Chris Steak House is known for their “perfect steak,” their menu is bursting with something to please every palate; they serve everything from chicken to seafood and even offer lighter vegetarian options.
The first cocktail the group sampled was the Ruby Red Greyhound, a concoction consisting of a Belvedere pink grapefruit vodka, St- Germain elderflower-flavored liqueur and (literally!) just-squeezed ruby red grapefruit and lime juices (Donna’s favorite of the cocktails offered that afternoon!).
The next appetizer, Crab Beignet, is a brand-new menu item, and proved to be more than one of the women’s favorite. It consisted of Jumbo Lump crab meat, fresh jalapeño, cream cheese and herbs, and was fried to a golden brown and drizzled with spicy cream sauce, topped with green onion and served on a bed of cucumber salad.
The crab had a smooth flavor with a pop of spice, and paired perfectly with my buttery Chardonnay,” said Carol about the Crab Beignet, and Rema added that that fresh jalapeño was what made the dish stand out. Linda said that if she had to pick a favorite, it would be the crab.
Donna asked the women to introduce themselves and tell the group a little bit about who they each are while they enjoyed Ruth’s Chris’ offerings.
Introductions led naturally into conversation about everything from careers to motherhood, but no one could help noticing that both Carol and Karen’s eyes lit up when they talked about their grandchildren.
As the group continued to talk, Haley presented the next cocktail and appetizer, a Blueberry Mojito, followed closely by the Spicy Shrimp. Cruzan aged light rum, fresh lime juice, simple syrup, muddled blueberries and fresh mint leaves were combined to make the slightly tart but refreshing Blueberry Mojito, which was beautifully garnished with fresh blueberries. The succulent shrimp, lightly fried and tossed in a spicy cream sauce, and served with a tangy cucumber salad, was Cortney’s favorite.
“The pairing of the zestiness of the shrimp with the drinks helps you forget the woes of the day,” she said, “and after a long day of work, this is a great place to meet in a centralized location.” Linda agreed, calling Ruth’s Chris Steak House “the best happy hour in Fresno.”
The last appetizer, Seared Ahi-Tuna (Kathy’s favorite), was seasoned with blackening spice, seared, sliced and perfectly complemented by a spirited sauce. “I loved the spicy mustard sauce. It made my taste buds dance!” Kathy raved.
The Blackberry Sidecar, a combination of Rémy Martin VSOP cognac, Cointreau, fresh lemon juice, Fee Brothers plum bitters and muddled blackberries was the perfect final cocktail and an excellent transition into the unexpected dessert variety that Haley offered the group.
The group sampled a decadent crème brûlée topped with fresh berries, a rich cheesecake and the “Chocolate Duo,” which consisted of a molten chocolate lava cake with a Belgian chocolate center and a cup of chocolate mousse topped with fresh whipped cream on the side. All the guests agreed that every one of the desserts they sampled was incredible, though Rema called the cheesecake “divine.” Donna said, “It's the best cheesecake in Fresno.”
While the women exchanged business cards and prepared to leave, Donna put each woman’s name on a slip of paper in a bowl; Karen’s name was drawn as the lucky recipient of the autumn-themed floral arrangement.
Hosted At Ruth's Chris Steak House
Managing Editor Cheryl Ensom Dack
Photographer Theresa Jebian
Florals Simply Flowers