Classic steakhouse comfort meets refined modernism at Ruby Jack’s.
The thing about simplicity is that it can be a lot tougher than it looks. Take a martini, for example. You’ve got your gin or vodka, some vermouth, and a twist of lemon, right? Wrong: any good bartender will tell you that it’s not simply a matter of the ingredients—which still need to be of the highest quality if the drink is going to taste like it should—it comes down to preparation.
As Matthew Crabbe, executive chef and co-owner at Ruby Jack’s steakhouse explains, the bartenders at his restaurant must clear a high standard before they’re given free rein behind the counter. In order to make a “simple” martini, bartenders have to learn how, after they’ve mixed the drink, to delicately twist the lemon peel over the glass, misting it with the essence of the citrus aroma that lingers on the palate. However, it’s no easy thing to pick up quickly, and bartenders who are learning how to get it right have to practice it over and over, drink after drink, until it becomes second nature and is done to perfection.
This attention to detail is something that you can feel as soon as you walk into the lofty, open space of the restaurant, which combines the classic look of an American steakhouse—rows of tables draped in long white linen, vintage wood floors, and classic jazz vocals from the 40s and 50s—with the striking minimal lines of modern design, like the leather-belted walls and floor-to-ceiling glass windows that face onto a terrace used as an outdoor dining and bar area during warmer months. A private room with seating for up to 10 can be found at the end of the hall, along with a massive, dynamic painting of a bull (Masashi Ozawa’s “ANGUS”), which is one of the restaurant’s visual calling cards.
An open kitchen area gives diners the opportunity to see preparation as it unfolds, and the glass meat locker gives them a clear view of the restaurant’s hallmark cuts of meat—juicy, marbled ribeyes, T-bone steaks, massive Tomahawks, and the pièce de résistance, the 45 day aged Wagyu. Crabbe explains that standards for his Australian and American meat suppliers, as well as his kitchen staff, are exacting: “If we feel something is not up to standard or in too short supply, we follow up with the suppliers until the highest standards are achieved. For us, quality is key: quite simply, we only deliver quality to the table.”
Crabbe is the Australian member of the trio—rounded out by Ghanaian Edward (Eddie) Baffoe, who manages the bar team, and New Zealander Nathan Smith, who is in charge of the floor and food and beverage management—that opened Ruby Jack’s last year, following on the success of the group’s wildly popular Two Rooms and R2 SupperClub. The team’s winning combination—innovative twists on classic dishes, impeccable service, and high-quality cocktails—is being followed to a T at their latest creation.
For example, Ruby’s Caesar Salad offers a clever take on the American steakhouse staple: the butter lettuce leaves are dusted with a blanket of toasted panko and their original bacon dust to accompany the dressing, making for a unique presentation but a familiar taste. Other starter standouts include a Steak Tartare with Free Range Yolk & Parmesan Crumbs; the “Crabbe Cake” Donut, served with a Jalapeño Tartar sauce; the impressive Seafood on Ice for Two; and oysters from Japan and seasonal overseas varieties. For the mains, along with the international selection of steaks, Ruby Jack’s serves a succulent rack of lamb as well as a grilled fish chosen daily from Tsukiji Fish Market.
And for drinks, diners are spoiled for choice. The voluminous wine list carries more than 200 different varieties, drawn from around the world, and an impressive list of spirits can be found behind the bar.
While the standards for quality at Ruby Jack’s are exacting, the atmosphere at the restaurant makes it a great spot for formal occasions and family meals alike—children are particularly welcome. One of the restaurant’s best options for the family is its Saturday and Sunday brunch, featuring an unforgettable Black Angus Ribeye Roast Beef, served with mashed potatoes and a Yorkshire Pudding.
As the restaurant gets ready to celebrate its first anniversary next month, one thing is simple enough to say about Ruby Jack’s: it is a neighborhood restaurant you’ll be wanting to come back to, whatever neighborhood you come from.
Ruby Jack’s Steakhouse & Bar
Address: 2F Ark Hills South Tower 1-4-5, Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo, 106-0032
Tel: 03-5544-8222 | Web: rubyjacks.jp/en/