Monday, April 27, 2015

Ruby Tuesday

1120 Shapiro Dr.
Festus, Mo.
On The Net

Earlier in the week I got word from Angel. "We have a Ruby Tuesday coupon."
Hint, taken.
Of all the franchise bar/restaurants, It's about the only one we go to very often. It's never been perfect, but it is only rarely terrible.
It was because of a very bad night at RT that we started looking for other places to eat back in 2009. You could say that Ruby Tuesday is the birthplace of Eat and Critique.
The Place:
It used to have walls lined with junk. Sports junk, iron tools, etc. Much like 'Chotchkies' in the movie 'Office Space'. They got rid of all that 'flair' a few years ago, painted the walls, toned it down a little.
It still has a central bar, but overall it is no longer an open invitation to frat-style rowdiness.
There are booths on the sides, a bar area, and an entry. Separating the bar from the entry is the world's best salad bar. This bar is why Angel likes going here. Meals are chosen to be compatible with a mega-load of salad.
A couple of young ladies greeted at the podium and chatted over charts, finally deciding to put us in pretty much the same booth as we always end up in.
Pretty soon, a young, energetic man stopped by asking for drink orders. We replied with the usual. He skittered away.
The Food:
I scanned the menu, Angel and Adam debated appetizers. I don't usually get involved in appetizer discussions, I only rarely partake. They usually want wings, which I do not care for.
When the young man delivered our drinks and Angel put in the appetizer order. I heard the word 'sampler'. Something must have caught her eye that Adam might not care for. That could be a lot of things.
It didn't take long before the menus were closed. In front of us were some of those luscious cheddar biscuits. I held off, I had a plan.
As we waited I noticed the tea glasses. Or rather mugs, worse, plastic mugs. I don't like drinking out of plastic cups. We have a few at home that I've never had a drink from. I'd rather drink from a Bundt pan than a plastic cup. That is usually not an option at restaurants though. I expect a plastic cup in lower end places. RT is not lower end. Besides, this was a cheaply made, faux beer mug. I'm sure RT has a bunch of actual glass mugs at the bar. . .
Seriously, like the Styrofoam cups at Savannah's Smokehouse last week, this sort of thing is one of those annoying little details that just set up for a 'beneath my price range' mood. I knew going in that this bill would be in the sixty five to seventy five dollar range. Give me an actual glass for Pete's sake!
 No time for that now though. We placed our entree orders:
Me: Top Sirloin, fries, salad bar.
Angel: New Orleans Seafood, Zucchini (blech!) and salad bar.
Adam: Rids and Chicken Tenders, with fries.
The young man almost got trampled in our rush to the salad bar. There's
nothing exotic at the bar, there's just a lot of variety, a whole lot. And lots of types of dressing as well. I loaded my plate up with a few greens, mushrooms, onions, cucumbers, peppers, cheese, bacon bits, egg, etc. Thousand Island dressing this eve'.
The appetizer tray arrived, four selections. Spicy wings as orange as expected. That color of orange is only found in one place in nature, traffic cones and barrels. I've never looked at a construction site and drooled for the flavor of anything that color. In the service, I once painted my office that color. The Inspector General was making the rounds and I'd read a report that said that this color is a people repellent.  It also causes headaches after a day or so.
Also on the tray were some un-spicy wings, miniature cheese logs, or something, and tiny Thai spring rolls.
This is apparently what caught Angel's eye. Adam would never touch one of those. I would though.
So I tried one. Not bad, not bad at all. Pretty darn good as a matter of fact. Angel agreed. That's the only thing I tried. Adam tore into the messy orange wings. They'd asked for the 'mild' version, Angel said it was still too spicy for her. Adam seemed to like it though. Most of the rest of the stuff ended up in a box, bound for Adam's lunch bag. He had to work that night.
I gulped down most of my gloppy salad, too much dressing again. It sure was good though.
Soon, too soon, the entrees arrived. This has been one of my complaints in the past. Badly timed courses. It doesn't happen every time, just often enough to be frustrating, leaving the table with too many plates and having to choose between abandoning or finishing the salad and appetizers while the entrees slid toward room temperature.
I pushed the salad plate aside. Steak trumps all.
I carved a sliver off the left side. The juices started flooding, threatening to drench the fries. I didn't care, the fries were an afterthought. I wanted steak. Besides, the fries weren't all that special anyhow, maybe an afterthought for the kitchen crew as well. Too much salt.
The steak did not cut easily. This worried me. I recalled having a problem like this at RT before. So I sawed through it with the finesse of a hyena. I was right, the steak was perfect, buttery, not tough to chew at all. For some reason, I doubt if it was concern for my safety, the steak knife was better suited for clubbing than slicing.
The steak itself though, was excellent. Not topped or sauced, just bare, naked, charred and bloody meat on my tongue. A little salt, a little pepper, a bit of butter and a flame. All a good cut of beef ever really needs. I saved a little though, to go with the cheddar biscuits. Sunday breakfast with steak, eggs and some of those little red potatoes I'd picked up at a produce stand earlier in the day.
Angel likes seafood. But I repeat myself. Her plate was packed with zucchini (blech!) and a tilapia filet coated in 'Parmesan cream sauce'  and drizzled with some shrimp. Mostly zucchini (blech!) though. Later in the meal I noticed the fish barely looked touched. "The sauce is too salty." She reported. Fortunately, the zucchini was good. I told her I sincerely doubted that. Zucchini, to me, is like Pleather. It's fake food. You use zucchini when there's nothing else available, or if you are trying to replace something on your plate with a more healthy, if not more disgusting, alternative.
"I'll order something less daring next time." She summarized.
I shared a sliver of steak with her. Yeah, it was good.
Adam, not surprisingly, didn't say much about his plate. He inherited a
double dose of introvert. Or is it introvert squared? Anyway, he doesn't say much about anything. For example, when asked if his messy batch of ribs was good, he answered: "It's ribs." He also finally said that he was not impressed with the fries. He struggled mightily and messily breaking down the ribs. He must have had an even duller knife than I did. They did provide extra napkins though, which was good since with him going after those ribs with a blunt instrument there was splatter, not unlike the front row at a Gallagher show, during the trademark sledge hammer  vs. watermelon bit.
I suppose the chicken was fine, he said nothing about that, but it did end up in his takeout box.
No dessert, thanks.
If it sounds like a mixed review, well that's kind of typical for Ruby Tuesday. Some things are great, some, just not quite right. The bill came in under sixty five dollars, after a ten dollar appetizer coupon. I tipped the difference. The young man was most satisfactory, he kept the drinks refilled and was attentive to our desires, such as actually leaving out the ice when Angel asked for more tea 'without ice'. No complaints about Ryan S. (That's what the receipt says.)
Angel pointed out that the busing crew was MIA, a table beside ours hadn't been cleared the whole time we were there.
Details, those annoying little details.
And that's the thing. These issues are 100% laziness or mismanaged priorities. The awful plastic
mugs, the mis-timed serving, the lackluster fries and overly salty fish, nothing that required any actual recipe really popped. The steak was excellent, but that was 90% cut quality and only 10% skill. Details, details . . . at a price I don't really think worthy of such annoying details.
We'll go back, salad bar, and the steak is pretty good. But other offerings? We're still searching for go-to alternatives.

Ruby Tuesday on Urbanspoon

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