Food & Drink

Review: The Ruxton Brings Serious Swagger to Harbor East

Baltimore’s trendiest, spendiest new steakhouse offers a kind of theatricality rarely seen around town.
The tomahawk steak. —Photography by Scott Suchman

As you follow the hostess to your table at The Ruxton, Baltimore’s trendiest, spendiest new steakhouse, you’ll likely see diners digging into Fred Flintstone-sized tomahawk steaks or mammoth pieces of porterhouse aged in a meat locker for some 70 days.

While the market for plant-based meat might be booming, our carnivorous cravings have not dimmed, if this Harbor East steakhouse is any indication.

The Ruxton comes courtesy of the Atlas Restaurant Group, the culinary conglomerate that’s given rise to the swankiest spots in Charm City. It’s their 26th restaurant in Maryland and the 18th project Patrick Sutton has designed for the restaurant group. While Atlas founder Alex Smith won’t say exactly how much he spent, he will say it’s their priciest project yet. From the looks of the place, that’s not surprising.

Here Sutton imagines a world that feels far away from the borders of Baltimore, with its luxe leathers, illuminated onyx columns, forest-green velvets, ribbons of glass that sway from the ceiling, gleaming brass, and tiny table lamps that cast a sultry glow and evoke the Jazz Age. When you dine here, you’re not sitting in the space—you’re enveloped by it.

The opulent dining room.
Chef-partner Aaron Taylor.

And while The Ruxton, whose name was inspired by a 1920 car company (not the north Baltimore neighborhood), checks all the boxes for an extravagant steakhouse experience, the real appeal is less about the food and more about the place itself, which offers a kind of theatricality rarely seen in Baltimore restaurants. This is how a steakhouse might look if it was designed by filmmaker Baz Luhrmann.

This stagecraft is brought to life by the highly dedicated servers who arrive with the lengthy cocktail menu within seconds of your seating, then continue to dote and decrumb throughout the meal; the parade of white-coated runners who march in lockstep as they balance sky-high seafood towers and platters of raw oysters; and, of course, the diners themselves, bedecked in sparkles and sequins (or sportscoats and Italian loafers), who serve as their own decoration in the dining room.

The Ruxton manages to be both a throwback and thoroughly modern at the same time—a place with old-school martinis, but one that also features non-alcoholic offerings. It’s a steakhouse with red meat—from a mineral-tinged, dry-aged bison rib-eye to a gorgeously marbled Japanese Wagyu—but the vegetarian at the table can enjoy a butternut squash steak and the seafood lover has a wide wealth of options, too.

Regardless of what you order, you’re here to indulge in the notion that for at least one night, you’re as rich as the food. Waste no time in splurging on an order of tater tots as soon as you sit down. Peeking out of a caviar tin, the oversized spuds are crowned with crème fraîche and a heap of Russian caviar. Pair your tots with the Grand Ruxton martini, which comes complete with a sidecar, then contemplate the other enticing offerings.

Be sure to order at least one wedge salad—a half-sphere of baby iceberg doused with blue cheese dressing and dotted with roasted tomatoes, candied bacon, burnt onions, and walnuts scattered across the surface. And don’t miss the shellfish salad—a generous portion of shrimp and jumbo lump crab resting in a pool of citrus vinaigrette. The whole affair includes an avalanche of greens, providing more opportunities to enjoy that vinaigrette.

As for the entrees, the main event is those steaks—a whopping 720 pounds of meat are sold on any given night. Seasoned with salt, pepper, and a hit of butter, the meat (sourced from a premium purveyor in Chicago) is seared on the surface of a molten hot charbroiler to create a crust, then rested for optimal succulence.

Housemade tater tots with caviar and the Grand Ruxton martini.
The butter cake.

Over a couple of Saturday nights in March, I demolished a gorgeously seared six-ounce filet, and the Australian Wagyu, which was served sliced and as easy to cut through as butter. For an additional fee, steaks can be embellished with ingredients like truffle butter or a blue cheese crust or a variety of lovely side sauces, including an herbaceous chimichurri, though no additional seasoning is necessary. The steaks taste expensive—and they are. But then again, no one ever went to a luxe steakhouse to bank on a bargain.

If you prefer surf to turf, there are a host of noteworthy options, including a Maryland-style crab cake served with waffle fries and a refreshing corn salad. There’s also a branzino filet resting on a bed of sunchoke purée, plus some fried sunchokes on the side. The tubers provide a nutty counterpoint to the sweet flesh of the fish.

Like most steak houses, side dishes are a highlight. My favorites include the jalapeño grits—they’re an appealing chartreuse hue that’s achieved by puréeing peppers and spinach—and a lavish lobster mac and cheese that pair perfectly with any steak on the menu.

If you’ve saved room for dessert, consider the butter cake coated in turbinado sugar, served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and showered with strawberry crumble and macerated berries.

Sometimes it can be hard to get away from it all, but thanks to a fusion of fun, good food, and fantasy, The Ruxton will truly transport you.


THE RUXTON 720 Aliceanna St. HOURS: Mon.-Fri. 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 4-10 p.m., Sat.-Sun. 4-11 p.m. PRICES: Appetizers, salads: $12-26; entrees: $29-62; steaks: $46-220. AMBIANCE: Posh.