Monday, September 16, 2013

Ruby Tuesday

1120 Shapiro Dr.
Festus, Mo.

Updated:   See the note from Ruby Tuesday Corporate at the bottom of this post! * * * * 

That's right loyal fans, this is our 200th review.
Four years.
It was no contest, we had to go back to where it all started, Ruby Tuesday. Our first review was not at this place, it was instead because of a truly disappointing meal at Ruby T's that we decided to start going other places. Thus, eatandcritique was born.
Ruby T's has proven to be able to pull off exceptional meals. Even their worst effort is better than many places, but they set the bar for themselves very high.
The Place:
Above the interstate and below Lowe's. Not as kitschy as some chains like them, not anymore anyhow. A big bar, lots of seating, a couple of TV's playing sports.The music was safe, from the 70's and 80's a little too loud. Loud enough that it was hard to ignore the lousy songs.
Fortunately there weren't very many of those. One song, U2's "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" from the album "Joshua Tree" is still about the only thing worth listening to to ever come out of Bono's mouth.
Elton John's iconic 'Rocket Man' tossed me back to my high school years, when I was introduced to the John/Taupin sound, the early stuff, back when it was good. Bernie Taupin wrote the lyrics, including 'Candle in the Wind' as well as the rewrite of that song customized for Princess Di's untimely death. Good stuff. Still a little too loud though.
We were greeted and seated. Brittany would be our server. Young, but not too young, she seemed polished and confident.
She took our drink orders, tea, sweet tea and coke. We sat back and looked through the menus, the drinks arrived in a couple of minutes. That was all the time we needed.
The Food:
Remember the salad bar, remember the salad bar. You have to do that when deciding on what to order here. The salad bar is routinely the better bar around, anywhere. You're going to pile it on, so pick a less than heavy meal. Fortunately they offer that

The tea arrived. It was beautiful. Look at it. It almost sparkles, no cloudiness, bright, crisp, fresh. Note to other restaurateurs: If your tea doesn't look like this, it is not going to be very good. Not all sparkling tea is great, but if it isn't this clear, I guarantee that it will not be very good.
We placed our orders.
Me: Petite Sirloin. The recommended sides for that were grilled zucchini and spaghetti squash. I laughed. I gagged, I insisted on a substitution, mashed potatoes and green beans. Seriously folks, zucchini and squash? Nobody actually eats that crap. Brittany assured me, with a smile, that it was no problem.
Angel asked for the tilapia and lobster. She sided it with squash and zucchini.....just kidding, mashed potatoes. Adam took the Asiago peppercorn sirloin.  He added mashed potatoes as well.
Brittany had barely enough time to safely clear the area before the three of us charged the salad bar like sea-weary sailors hitting the docks for a lusty weekend liberty.
My salad
Angel's (blech) salad
They've got everything for a monster salad that you could want, it's all fresh, and most of it is plentiful. This time the crouton supply was a little low, but that didn't concern me. I piled on a little lettuce, a little spinach, bell peppers, red onions, mushrooms, beans, a little cheese, egg and bacon bits and a teaspoon of potato salad. I drizzled a small amount of blue cheese dressing and then a a larger amount of thousand island. During the week I would call this, by itself, a meal. Thus the reason for the 'petite' sirloin steak. Angel and Adam created their own salad versions. The lovely wife poisoned hers with broccoli, Adam punched the lights out on his with French dressing. Then came the biscuits. Mmmmm, cheesy and garlic-y biscuits, soft, fluffy. Those things are dangerously good.

We had time to finish our salads, I finished early since I'd accidentally over-dressed mine. I'll have to start paying more attention to that.
Brittany stopped by with drink refills, I fell in love with her. I simply said "You know this is the best restaurant tea around don't you?" She smiled then looked toward Angel, as people often do when I make bold and brilliant statements.
"He is highly critical about tea." Angel responded, somewhat dismissively. Brittany slammed her back.
"I get that!" she said. She picked up one of the glasses and said "This is what tea is supposed to look like, you don't see that very often!"
She went on to say that she too was critical of sub-par tea and would often not order it in places that she knew to do the job badly. We then started discussing brands. Tea nerds....
"I have one more question. " I said.
"Sure." She smiled.
"Are you, by any chance, married?"
Seriously, I said that. Angel went all old-school wife-furious. Not really though, she knows that I value a good glass of tea and that I take it very seriously, much more so than her. Brittany laughed it off, or pretended to out of respect for my family. On the newly instituted PJTea scale though, I'd easily rate Ruby T's offering a +4.
Petite Sirloin
The meals arrived, exactly as ordered.
The first thing I noticed was the brightness of the beans. As was covered in last week's review of Tanglefoot, it is indeed possible to ruin something as basic as green beans. This small pile was proof they can indeed be prepared simply, yet properly. They still had 'tooth' but were sauteed perfectly. The potatoes were garlic-y but not too much so. The steak... Oh, the steak.
Tilapia and Lobster.
 A great cut of meat, properly tended to, lightly seasoned, grilled to the exact point of being beautiful. Juicy, a little char, tender, smoky. As planned, I was able to finish it all and was not disappointed with a single bite.
Angel gave me a fork full of her lobster topping. It was simply to die for. The first thing I tasted was the lobster, the chunks absolutely melting in my mouth. She managed to finish most of it, but there was a certain richness and a heaviness to it. The fish, she said, was moist and flaky . Tilapia is a very mild fish, it accepts accompaniment just fine, in fact it begs for it. This lobster and cheese concoction took it up quite a few notches.
Asiago Peppercorn Sirloin
Adam didn't say much about his, but it was obvious that he was pleased. The corners of his mouth were in the slightly-up position. "Very good." was his final evaluation. He manages to say things succinctly with a lot fewer words than I can.

Most of the time Ruby gets it right. Occasionally they don't, but on this occasion they hit it out of the park. Brittany was outstanding. The meals were all exactly as ordered, timely and our drinks stayed refilled. She was pleasantly chatty when engaged, but otherwise left us to enjoy the meal. I noticed her at other tables as well, very consistent and professional. Ruby Tuesday's is lucky to have someone as professional and competent as her. She really should be paid more though.
The bill came to a few cents under sixty dollars. Remarkably, a couple of bucks less than we spent at Tanglefoot, but at Ruby's we got a much, much better meal.
The salad bar at Ruby T's is simply outstanding. How often do you order a slightly smaller entree just so you can accommodate a bigger salad? We do this regularly here, nowhere else that I can recall.
Once again, the tea. It's a simple thing, or at least it is generally treated that way. Most restaurants treat iced tea as an afterthought, or with no thought whatsoever. In my mind that's a shame. All I ask is that the tea served be given as much consideration as a frosty beer, a mixed drink, or a cup of coffee. If it is old, cloudy, or bitter, pour it out and make some fresh.
As we were leaving, Brittany said that she was glad to meet someone on the same page with her about the tea. Well Brittany, we are indeed on the same page now, this one. Thanks for making the 200th review a pleasant and memorable one.

Fans: I haven't forgotten you. Thanks to all of you for making this silly little blog so successful. You've apparently been spreading the word, I come across new readers quite often.
And please, don't be shy, let me know what you think. Or at least tap one of the ads that show up on the page. I get a couple of cents each time someone does that, just think of it as a 'tip'.
Thanks again!

***** The email from Corporate:

First - congratulations on your 200th post! We are proud and humbled to be the recipients of your fine review.
Also we are always happy to hear that our guests appreciate our team members as much as we do! Guest satisfaction is our number one priority, and we are committed to ensuring gracious hospitality and incomparable service. We will proudly recognize Brittany for providing you with such fine service.
Thanks again for your words of praise. We look forward to serving you again soon!

Valerie Dee
Manager of Guest Services
Ruby Tuesday

Ruby Tuesday on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations on number 200! Glad you had a good meal and a great memory.