So you're out shopping – running outlet to outlet. You need a quick bite to eat and all you can see on the horizon are chain restaurants. Well, have no fear. Grab a bite at Ruby Tuesday. I think of them as the AVIS of restaurants…”We try harder”! In the last few years, the tiffany lamps have been replaced by more elegant lighting and nice artwork covers the walls. The exteriors have been jazzed up a bit, the “Muzak” is actually quite palatable and the menu is constantly evolving. I love the new, complimentary, made-from-scratch, garlic cheese biscuits that arrive at your table shortly after the drinks. I've never met a carbohydrate I didn't like and these are no exception! They are really good!
And applause for their efforts to feature lower calorie, healthier choices. Dozens of menu items are now marked with the FT symbol which means “Fit & Trim” and under 700 calories. There's also a new menu section called Petite Plates presenting smaller portions. They've even extended this calorie consciousness over to the drink section where they're using Agave syrup to sweeten many of their cocktails.
Their “Shareables” (cute-speak for appetizers) include a Spinach Artichoke Dip which has been very good every time I order it. If the table doesn't demolish it, I take the leftovers home, whip it into scrambled eggs the next morning and Voila!: Instant gourmet breakfast. I've ordered the Fresh Guacamole Dip twice. The first time was amazing, but the second, not so much. Other Shareables include Queso & Chips, Fried Mozzarella and the Fresh Avocado Quesadilla.
My usual here is the salad bar which just keeps getting better and better. On a recent visit they had four different lettuce mixes to choose from and toppings like edamame, five different kinds of cheese, sun dried tomatoes, red peppers, and dozens more. I love to get the soup and salad bar combo with the broccoli cheddar soup. I'm pretty certain the soup is made with chicken stock but it's one time that I just don't mind. (No, dear reader, I am not a perfect vegetarian, but close!)
Writing this column has nudged me away from ordering the usual, so on my latest visit I tried their new Zucchini Cake Minis. I think this is their replacement for the veggie burger which frankly, I'm not going to miss. The minis are made in-house with roasted red peppers and feta cheese along with the grated zucchini. The flavor was actually quite nice, but I think the consistency needs a little work. Mine were a bit mushy for my taste. They come with lettuce, tomato, pickles and mayonnaise on a Wonder bun (or some god-awful white, mushy bread roll – just push it to the side). All that being said, I applaud them for offering something other than the standard veggie burger.
Under the Pasta Classics there is a NEW Spaghetti Squash Marinara (red pepper marinara tossed with roasted spaghetti squash and zucchini) that I haven't tried but sounds very interesting. What I have had is the Chicken and Broccoli Pasta without the chicken. It's penne pasta served with a Parmesan cream sauce. Again, one time it was absolutely divine – pasta done to perfection – wonderful flavor in the cream sauce, not too heavy – and the broccoli seasoned just right. Next visit it was just not as good. They do have a problem with consistency, but when they do it right it's really good, so I keep coming back.
There are tons of great sides to choose from besides the standard French Fries and Onion Rings. Try the Fresh Steamed Broccoli or the White Cheddar Mashed Potatoes. Or maybe the Sugar Snap Peas, Brown Rice Pilaf, Baked Mac & Cheese, or the Fresh Baked Potato. New to the menu is the Roasted Spaghetti Squash (side), Sliced Tomatoes with Balsamic Vinaigrette, Sweet Potato Fries, and Fresh Grilled Asparagus.
I never have room for dessert but sometimes order it anyway. Ruby's has kindly kept this in mind and you can order just a little something sweet like the Blondie for One for $2.99 or two Gourmet Cupcakes for $2.99 (Red Velvet or Carrot Cake). I say go for one of each! Ruby Tuesday on Coastal Highway in Rehoboth Beach across from Chick-fil-A and K-Mart. Check out the menu here.