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July 13, 2008

Table for one at Ruth's Chris

RCPikesville.jpgFor reasons too complicated to explain, I ended up tonight eating dinner alone in the Ruth's Chris Steak House in Pikesville. No more saturated fat and salt for me until next month. I've used up my allotment.

Anyway, I walked in without a reservation, and the hostess asked me my name. I made up one, let's say Smith, and from then on I was, Smith, party of one, as in "Please show Smith, party of one, to her table." I kind of liked it. It gave the whole evening a kind of gravitas it wouldn't otherwise have had. ...

I do want to mention my waiter, Winston, master of upselling, and yet he made me love every minute of being upsold.

Naturally I had to take three-fourths of my dinner home, and Winston did something no one thought of when we were talking about doggy bags. He brought the leftover containers to the table and ceremoniously transferred the food in front of me, as artfully as he might have filleted a fish.

This is the perfect solution, it seems to me. I didn't have to do any work, it was mildly fun to watch him do it and I didn't have to worry about, well, anything.

Ask for Winston if you eat there.

(View from my table by me) 

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 9:13 PM | | Comments (51)


I think that guy in the blue shirt is making eyes at you.

Well, I guess you just blew your cover.

EL, what did you do to entertain yourself while dining solo? Did you have a book? I know you wouldn't talk on your cell. Was there something interesting to look at? Did you talk to yourself in your head? Did you think about us here in the sandbox, wondering what we were up to?

Someone at Ruth's is going to splice your photo from the security tape and sell it to restaurants all over town. They will have your photo behind the hostess stand and bar, just like mine when I was in college. Although that was to keep me out, not kiss my butt.

Your topic could not be more timely, as I am considering dining alone this coming Friday night at The Prime Rib. I routinely dine out alone, but never at a special-occasion place. I'm wondering how weird it would be for me, the staff, and other patrons.

Skin beat me to it. Now that you have announced your visit, aren't you a bit afraid that they will, in fact, look at tape or question the wait staff about your appearance? I would think that restaurants would like to out you to their staff.
Or, at this point, do you not really
care :-)
Inquiring minds want to know...

Not to worry. I can't think of any circumstances under which I'd review it again. And remember, I always announce my visit every time I write a review by writing the review. EL

Although EL is feeling sorry for Safeway, I'm starting to feel sorry for Donna Beth. Can't someone get her a date? I frequently dine alone on business trips, and the Prime Rib is the kind of place I would avoid.

For what its worth, I've eaten at the Prime Rib, with friends and with Book. I didn't notice any difference in how I was treated. I will say the table was a bit small for my plate and Book, but I have no hope of a 4-top when its just me and Book.

I guess since I dine alone (except for Book) more than with friends, I don't understand why eating alone should have any impact on the staff or other patrons, special-occasion place or not. Bon Appétit

Good pick up Bourbon Girl. EL, did Mr. Blue Shirt toast you with that coffee cup right after you snapped the photo?

BG -- by the way, I was thinking about you last night while on my deck enjoying Booker's and an Ashton. Of course I slept till noon.

I've dined solo for lunch on many occasions at Linwoods. It is so convienent for the starving after doctor's appointments. They seem to always seat me at this tiny table for 2 that is next to a cement pillar. I really can't be seen by anyone nearby but I can hear all the near by conversations. Evesdropping on strangers - the perfect accompaniment to dining alone!

EL: it's obvious that you announce your visit by your reviews :-)
I just meant that it would be hard for the staff to remember you after a week or so, but after one day they still may remember your appearance. And even though you are finished reviewing that particular restaurant, you will still be visiting other restaurants.
I guess I always wondered if a restaurant owner tries to find out what the reviewer looks like, so that they can be on the lookout for the reviewer. Or if they band together to share that information.
But then maybe I am just too paranoid...

Maybe, but on the other hand, why help your competition? EL

OK, if you must know about the dining alone thing, just google "dining alone" (I'm curious in general about activities perceived as odd to pursue alone). And at this moment, I've got a serious jones for a plate of cow; although I am an accomplished cook, it's impossible to duplicate this meal at home, as I've never found a kosher butcher who could supply the same grade of beef as that at The Prime Rib. What other restaurant meals are worth the $$$ because the food is not easily cloned at home?

Susan WNJA...paranoid people have real enemies, too, so I don't think we CAN be "too paranoid."

At least you're not trolling for free kabobs like some Sun writers.


Why would Donna Beth Joy Shapiro need a table for one? I think they're my law firm.

Oh ... there you are Bucky! I will get you! Whooooooooooooossshh.....

Dining alone on Sunday night Large-style versus Friday night could be a big difference. Plus Fearless Leader got upsold. I wouldn't attempt it. But then again, I'm married with two kids so my alone time is rare and spent mostly alone in the garage staring in a cracked mirror doing positive affirmations. And coming up with interior comic monologues that go like this: What did you do tonight while I was working late? I hired a babysitter and went to the Prime Rib alone. Hilarious! But enough about you.

Hey Owl - you never told us about this:

Must be from your days of innocence long ago...

You know that DBJ&S are not our lawyers.

Zoinks LJ, that's scary. I seem to see owls everywhere since I accidentally adopted this persona a mere six months ago. Good catch.


Glurp! That's me eating my friend Wormy.

Joe Escalante is my lawyer. He knows my auntie.

DBJS, not to derail your date with yourself at the Prime Rib, but have you ever tried Roseda Beef? It's from a local farm up in Monkton or somewhere, and it's easily Prime Rib quality (or better). Out of this world, even the steak burgers. You can order it online, but we buy it at Graul's -- and it is kosher.

Anyway, back to dining alone: I'm still no good at it without a book, and I'd hate to take a book to an upscale restaurant on a weekend night. I guess I'd better spend some time in front of that cracked mirror doing my own affirmations.... ;)

I'd hate to take a book to an upscale restaurant on a weekend night ... Why? Do you view eating alone, anywhere, so pathetic? By this standard I would never go out. Is being part of a couple the only way one (well two) is allowed to eat out?

Linda, I've seen the Roseda beef at Graul's (I reside in the Zone) and I just thought it was over priced beef. But I will try it based on your recommendation. And I concur -- I could not read a book while dining alone at a decent place. You can correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think you were stating that dining alone is pathetic. It just doesn't work for some folk. Me thinks Robert is a tad sensitive about the issue.

"Do you view eating alone, anywhere, so pathetic?" RtSO, I see it as anything but pathetic. I see it as being confident, brave and self assured. It's also cheaper than being stuck with splitting the bill with someone who eats everything on the menu, has cocktails and dessert!

I dine alone quite often, a habit I picked up on business trips and took back home with me. I enjoy it most of the time.

Though if you don't sit at the bar you have to be able to entertain yourself (i.e., have lots of imaginary friends to play with in your head, a la Owlie), or a blackberry, or a good book (but I wouldn't do that at a fine dining place).

The upside is you can go where you want, when you want, have as many cocktails as you want, order what you want, and leave when you want.

Most people I know can't stomach it, but it's actually a really peaceful experience.

Hey Skin - from the looks of Mr. Blue Shirt, he toasted our EL with the coffee mug, And then *winked* at her.

Hot stuff going on at the Pikesville steakhouse. ;)

This poor man is clearly talking to his wife in mid-sip of coffee. EL

Another insightful pick-up, Bourbon Girl. I guess I'm not used to having gray-haired men wink at me so I didn't pick up that subtlety. Or any man for that matter.

And EL, please. Like they say, the camera doesn't lie. And now we know why you allowed yourself to be upsold -- you were clearly distracted.

I never dine alone, I always have Harvey with me.!!!

Skin - btw, I won't ask what you were thinking, but it sounds like a perfect night and a perfect morning.

Hey Bourbon G -- at the risk of being accused of instigating (which I will readily concede), the ball is in your court. See the still alive sandwich thread.

EL: we think you are denying the obvious. That man is definitely making
goo-goo eyes at you.

Bourbon Girl -- tru dat.

I never dine alone, I always have Harvey with me.!!!>/i>
Hue - does that mean that you give everyone you meet your card and invite them to your house for dinner? And how does your sister fell about that?

No offense to the photog (I assume it's EL), but to infer much from that picture is a little crazy. I'm pretty sure I can make out Lee Harvey Oswald in a busboy uniform in the background.

I can't decide whether to be offended or grateful. :-) EL

Thanks, RevEd. I was just wondering if I needed to get my eyes checked, as I don't see what others seem to in that photo.

EL wrote: Naturally I had to take three-fourths of my dinner home, and Winston did something no one thought of when we were talking about doggy bags. He brought the leftover containers to the table and ceremoniously transferred the food in front of me, as artfully as he might have filleted a fish.

Hey, I mentioned on the doggy bag thread that PF Chang's does that! No respect. Or too many posts to keep track of? That's probably it - right? Right?

Anyway a friend & I ate at the Chang's in Columbia tonight, and as the waiter boxed our leftovers he asked if we'd like him to give us each half of the remaining appetizer. I liked that.

Sorry about that. We're up to 15,852 comments now, and when I'm going to be out of touch for awhile, I ask my editors to post for me. EL

Carol in Hampden: there are 135+ posts on the sandwich thread from what seems like a freakin month ago. Poor EL is probably wishing she never learned how to access the internet, so I'm sure it was an oversight. EL, I'm sorry but you really created a monster here.

Interesting photoof a ceiling, EL.

At least it's in focus. EL

You should go to Dan Rodricks blog. He is now reviewing restaurants too and he LOVES comments.

Sheesh! I guess I should get into the use of emoticons, or abbreviations like LOL.... My post about getting no respect was intended in a joking/ironic way (as in What? With 15,000 posts you don't remember mine???).

Reprimanded by Skin. Ouch. Maybe a 2 martini lunch will make me feel all better...... Ooooh, I should have put this under the Lunch/Shallow Thought post!

Carol -- look at the time of my reprimand. Let's just say I wasn't in the proper frame of mine to notice a subtle irony. OK, I was drunk, stop badgering me.

Skin: all is forgiven. I didn't get to have my 2 martini lunch to shore me up from being busted on at D@L, because I remembered I'm expected to be a contributing (non-drunk) employee. I waited until I got home to have the 2 martinis. Or maybe 3 ...

So, yeah, I get you.

Thanks to all whose comments egged me on to experience dining alone at The Prime Rib. I have posted a brief account on one of my blogs at

Nice blog, DBJS! And happy birthday!!

Here's a question for EL and the Sandbox - a "filet Mignon" is pronounced "fill-ay." When it's spelled "fillet" and for fish, is it pronounced "fill-it?" In other words, one "l" or two?

For some reason, The Sun's policy is to spell it with one "l" when talking about the cut of beef, and with two all other times. But it's pronounced the same. EL

Wow...there is style book for cuts of meat? I would have never imagined.

For some reason, The Sun's policy is to spell it with one "l" when talking about the cut of beef, and with two all other times

That's probably because filet mignon is French.

Amazing, the sky has not fallen. Well done Ms. Shapiro, and happy belated birthday.

Dear Ms. Large, I used to value your opinion. I'm extremely disappointed that you would encourage your readers to ask for a particular server when planning their dinner at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse in Pikesville. While I agree with your opinion about Winston's meticulous service, I must add that he is not the only server who is a master of his game. There are plenty of wonderful servers at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse in Pikesville. Instead of encouraging your readers to single out Winston, perhaps you should recommend the restaurant for its impeccable service in general.

NB -- may I gently suggest that your disappointment is misplaced. You seem to have attached to EL's innocent comments the implied message, "Ask only for Winston because all the other servers at the Pikesville Ruth's Chris are incompetent." I didn't read it that way. EL enjoyed the service that was provided to her by Winston, and her comments reflect her satisfaction with Winston's service. While, no doubt, there are other wonderful servers at the Pikesville Ruth's Chris, I certainly wouldn't expect EL to comment on the other servers, as they didn't provide service to her on that occasion.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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