Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Ruby Tuesday's


Festus Mo.

Ruby T’s is in large part responsible for this whole review effort. Three years ago my little family was in a rut. When we went out to eat it was always to the same few places. Ruby T’s hurt me, made me angry. In the span of one month, while celebrating some minor event or another, we treated ourselves to steak dinners there.
The first was simply perfect. Even the tea was crisp and tasty. The mashed potatoes and grilled green beans topped with onion straws complimented the small thick rare steak perfectly. The next time though, same meal, nearly nothing was right. No huge mistakes, just an avalanche of small annoyances, the onion straws had been omitted, the potatoes were too salty, the steak overcooked and rubbery, even the tea was cloudy.
My nit-picking at these screw-ups motivated me to write a letter to the management. As I wrote it, what I read back was very much a restaurant review, not wholly unlike you see in magazines, newspapers and on TV.
Having been disappointed with a favorite place, we decided to see what else was out there, find new places to try and to compare them against our old favorites and each other. Thus, Eat and Critique was born.
Now, three years in, we’ve found several new places, added some to our favorites and discarded some of our old haunts in favor of newer, better places.
The Place:
Below Lowes overlooking the interstate. Right next to the big-box store’s parking lot, which was built atop a family cemetery. The graves were not relocated as no remaining relatives of that family could be located. SO if you are the superstitious type, be aware that the Lowes parking lot may be haunted. Some say that the wandering spirits of those interred there have been know to shove shopping carts into late model luxury SUV’s parked there to spite the intruders. (I just made up that last part )
Ruby T’s is like the other places of that type, Applebees, Chili’s, Outback, a steakhouse/sports bar.
Unlike the other places, Ruby decided to take all that kitschy sports crap off the walls, it recently remodeled itself. The bar remains, but the dining area is nearly sports-free. For that I say 'thank you Ruby T.' There’s too much sports around anyhow. You can barely order a pizza, enjoy a burger or sip a cup of coffee without being inundated with sports.
So the place is now muted dark walls, large, nondescript artwork and bland music, recent covers of 70’s ballads mostly, playing too loudly throughout the non-sports dining area.
The small, friendly hostess made note of our arrival and handed us off to another young lady to find us a seat. We took a large booth by a window. Yet another lady, Kimberly I believe, was to be our caretaker. We were greeted and offered something unintelligible, though it sounded like some sort of mixed drink, I just couldn’t make out exactly what it was called. She handed us menus, mentioned some specials, then took our drink orders. Tea, of course, Adam’s Coke, then Angel threw in a wrench, asking “What kind of lemonades do you offer?”
I only knew of two kinds of lemonade, pink and non-pink. Apparently other options have been invented. Kimberly rattled off a list of fruits, some familiar, some I believe she was just making up. “Raspberry sounds good.” Angel declared declaratively.
Raspberries are fairly common and have been around for the entire six thousand years of the world’s existence. Remnants of the berry can be found in primitive cave dwellings, and recorded ancient history even remarks on them. In Germany, raspberry was used to tame bewitched horses by tying a bit of the cane to the horse's body.* Knowing this, I didn’t see any problem with Angel’s lemonade choice, she can sometimes use a little taming of her own bewitched-ness.
The Food:
I had announced earlier that I wasn’t really in the mood for steak. I would eat those words later since I didn’t really see anything else as good. I’ve tried other things at Ruby T’s, but by far my favorite is the petit sirloin. And here’s why.  It’s the salad bar.
My salad, and a biscuit
in the background.
We like salad. I prefer a multiple component blend, lots of ingredients, piled high. This is tough at home since salad ingredients don’t have a long shelf life. Since there’s so few of us the bulk of produce always goes bad before we get halfway through it. So we have good salads a day or two after grocery day, then that’s about it.
Ruby T’s keeps their salad bar stocked, fresh, and  ample. I told Angel that it was a good thing that they made you order your entire meal before your trip to the salad bar, else you’d really not want much more. Ruby T’s has the best stocked salad bar this side of Potosi.
So the petit sirloin is almost an obvious choice. It’s a thick juicy steak, just not a very big one. I ordered mine with the salad bar and a side of mashed potatoes. I could have ordered a baked potato, but once again, salad bar.
Angel chose my second choice, the shellfish trio. Crab cake, lobster tail and shrimp. Adam went for the Buffalo chicken minis, and fries.
We dived into the luscious salad bar. I remembered to not grab so much lettuce, better to make room for the peppers, cucumbers tomatoes, beans, mushrooms, onions, potato salad and apple salad. Angel and Adam had their own blends, topped with those nasty dark, rubbery croutons they love so much.
Petit Sirloin
While we were acting like drunken pigs at the bar, our table had been served with a platter of small cheesy biscuits. Tasty, warm, no butter required.
We went at our salads like sailors at a discount brothel. The plates were cleaned up pretty quick, unlike sailors at a discount brothel, and then, almost as if on cue, the main courses arrived.
A small, thick, juicy steak, a small dollop of mashed potatoes. Angel asked for more biscuits, Kimberly was happy to comply.
The steak peeled apart easily. Juices swirled out and moistened the potatoes. Excellent, simply excellent. Angel gave me a taste of her crab cake, it was crabby, not bread-y.  As a light side she’d opted for the spaghetti squash, which she didn’t finish because “It was too much like everything at the salad bar, and I’d had enough salad.” I tasted it. I didn’t spit it out, nor did I write home about it.
Shellfish Trio, Spaghetti Squash
Adam made quick time of his minis, which were “Not too spicy.”
I didn’t quite finish my steak, too much salad bar, there were perhaps a couple of bites left. Angel was disappointed that there were only three shrimp, she really liked the spice rub on them. The lobster was overcooked, she said, adding that she’d expected as much. I’ve yet to eat at a Midwestern restaurant that didn’t overcook their lobster.
Kimberly came by, offered us dessert, we laughed. I asked her about whatever it was that she’s originally offered us, “. . . something in honor of the Olympics.” 
Buffalo Chicken Minis
“Oh, the Star Spangled Rita!” She cheerfully recalled. “Can I get you one?”
“No thanks, I’m not a fan of margaritas, I was just trying to figure out what you’d said.”
“Well, there not really like a traditional margarita, more like a ‘bomb-pop margarita’.”
I gagged at the very thought of the hyper-sweetness of such a thing.
“Thanks, but no thanks.” 


Summary:
As I’d said earlier, sometimes, but not all the time, Ruby gets it right. This was definitely one of those nights. The steak, salad, side, biscuits, even the tea were fresh and perfectly served. Kimberly was exceptional, friendly and dutiful, the music was a bit too loud, but other than that the meal was spot-on.
The bill came in at just over fifty dollars, more than a fast food place but absolutely better quality food and service. If Ruby Tuesday’s can remain consistent, I’ll keep them on top of my list of places to eat.

 ____________________________________

*Source:  http://www.thepracticalherbalist.com



Ruby Tuesday on Urbanspoon 

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