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September 2015 marks this prestigious journal's sixth anniversary! Nearly three hundred highly
researched, sane and articulate posts, highlighting and occasionally skewering eateries in our limited universe.
Once again, I feel obligated to regale you, the fans, with the story of the birth of Eat and Critique.
By September, 2009, we'd lived in Jefferson County for a little over three years. We continued a tradition, an appointment of going out to eat on Saturday evenings. It was a way to interrupt our very busy lifestyles and spend some quality 'us' time.
Choosing a place to go was always a chore. Three years in, we'd pretty much settled into a rut of a handful of places. One of those places was Ruby Tuesday.
If we were celebrating something, a new job, a new client,, etc. This is where we would go, since it was the pricier of the rut-places. I usually got the same thing, yeah the rut was that deep. Steak, mashed potatoes and sauteed green beans. This particular meal, everything went wrong. The steak was overcooked, the tea was bitter, the potatoes over salted, the service was lousy, the courses were terribly timed, the check took forever, our waiter disappeared, twice. . .
I was livid. I complained about it for hours, maybe days. I was threatening to write a terse letter to the corporation. Somewhere in all that righteous indignation, I declared that we would absolutely, positively, drag ourselves out of that rut and find new places.
That's is how all of this started. My frustration with a lousy meal at Ruby Tuesday.
So, in honor of that bad meal, we decided to go there on this, our sixth anniversary.
It's a Ruby Tuesday, one of the many mid-level chains of 'sports bars' like TGI Friday, Chili's, Outback, etc. Like the one parodied in the movie 'Office Space'. I can't usually tell them apart on the inside. They used to have more sports junk on the walls, but that went away in a small, infrequent, but refreshing display of good taste.
As you step in, you come face to face for the only real reason we ever go there, the salad bar.
We were greeted and seated in an area to the left of the bar, pretty much the same place we always get seated. Katy introduced herself and handed out menus. Not that we really needed menus, traditionally we always get pretty much the same thing.
The main thing at RT is the salad bar. We pick our meals based on how hungry we will be after we have our big salads.
Due to fairly recent conversations, punctuated with a lot of finger wagging, with my doctor, I have drastically altered my lifestyle. I won't bore you with details, but the alterations have worked, all my 'numbers' are back where they should be. Bottom line, I can't eat as much at a single sitting as I used to. That terrible meal I had six years ago has even been paired back. Instead of the salad bar and a full sized steak, potatoes and beans, sometimes followed by dessert, I order the Petite Sirloin and mashed potatoes to supplement the salad. I don't often even finish that.
This is what I went with again. Angel surprised us by going off script and getting the crab cakes. Adam put us back on course, choosing the chicken tenders. He doesn't do the salad bar. No appetizer this day.
What did I pick for my salad this time? Well, 'everything' is probably the best way to sum it up. I topped it with two dressings, blue cheese and Italian. I should point out that the photo makes it look massive, but that is not a full sized plate. Besides, this was the main course, the meat and potatoes were just side dishes.
We finished off our salads as well as the complimentary cheesy biscuits. Had we stopped then and
there this would be a completely positive review.
Katy brought the main courses a few minutes after we were finishing the salads, perfect timing. The plates looked rather sparse, nothing on them other than precisely what we ordered.
Right away I wished I had stopped with the salad. The steak was overcooked. I don't send things back, it takes too long. I ate about half of it, but was fortunately already sated by the voluptuous salad. I didn't finish the potatoes either, they were too salty. The steak also seemed too salty, something I was hard pressed to explain. It's a steak, you don't need more than a pinch of anything added to it. To over-salt steak is nothing short of criminal.
No dear, it wasn't. The chef was heavy handed, we've seen it before. Jilly's has been serving food laden with an oceans' worth of the mineral for several years.
Adam said his meal was "good". That's all. He doesn't talk a lot.
Adam and Angel decided to order some dessert to take home. RT was pushing a Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake. That's what they both went with. To me, pumpkin is an Autumn decoration, not a flavor. I don't eat or drink anything with the word 'pumpkin' in it. Besides, my tolerance for sugar is way down, so I rarely have a full dessert anymore.
We were not really disappointed, the salad bar was great and our expectations for the other stuff was not very high. It is a shame that they managed to ruin a perfectly good cut of meat though, again. Katy did a spectacular job, her timing and attentiveness were excellent, no complaints there. Since we lived in Maryland for five years, our expectations for a crab cake anywhere else are considerably lowered. Nobody out here gets them right.
The real sore point with Ruby Tuesday is that we only occasionally get it all right, yet it still costs more than most other places we go, the tab this time was over sixty dollars. That's a lot to pay for a salad and small, incorrectly cooked sides.
Yeah, we'll go back, for the salad, but maybe only the salad.