This post is going to be brief for two reasons: 1) This casual encounter was right before the holidays kicked into high gear so people were less motivated to report their comments and 2) Our entire dining experience was relatively unremarkable. There were some high points, a few low points, but overall things hewed pretty close to normal. Hey, they can’t all be a wild and crazy ride, right?
For this Casual Encounter with #14 on our list, we ventured to one of the remaining Ruby Tuesday locations in Minnesota, in Roseville (arguably the best suburb, though some debate that accolade (Jenna)).
Ruby Tuesday’s signature feature is their Garden Bar, a small but relatively well-curated salad bar that is available as an add-on with most entrees. Jenna bemoaned the lack of chickpeas, for some reason. She may be in the pocket of some kind of legume cartel, for all we know. But what we know for sure is that the journalistic integrity of Casual Encounters will never be compromised by any individual member’s relationship to Big Garbanzo.
Aaron says: Despite the several chicken sandwich options, I went with a similarly boring and probably disappointing pasta dish. The California primavera, with grilled vegetables and a basil/olive oil sauce. Shockingly, nothing to write home about, but I did leave full and reasonably satisfied.
John says: I went back to the old staple: Chicken. Specifically the Smoky Mountain Chicken. The chicken was cooked perfectly and the sauce that accompanied it was great. Had a bit of cheese in it too. Which is always nice.
Rachel says: Two words: Garden Bar. Because of this, I am a ride-or-die fan of Ruby Tuesday. There were some mild shortcomings in my experience this time around (some of the fixings were running low when I was there; the cucumbers were inexplicably diced instead of sliced into coins), but overall it’s a highlight to get both an entree (chicken) and a few trips to the salad bar. I barely touched my entree and instead made several trips to the G-Bar, leaving my entree to take home for lunch the next day. That’s called value.
We were seated at a table near the bar, which means we were left in the
capable 19-year-old(?) hands of a man-bun named Sevyron (pronunciation: man-bun). Sevyron knew how to pour giant beers. Sevyron did not know what a hot toddy was.
John says: Ordered a hot toddy. They server (also the bartender) didn’t know how to make it. We all found this to be odd since he’s, ya know, a bartender. And a hot toddy is just about the easiest drink to make. We told him how to make it and he did. It was fine.
Aaron says: Sort of like “Supersize Me,” I had (didn’t really have to) to order the mega beer after the server asked if I wanted the regular or large sized beer. Maybe I should make a documentary about our casual encounters (of the food kind) and always get the biggest beer [Ed. note: Sure, why not, you sad lush.]? Regardless, the 32oz pilsner sufficiently numbed any inhibitions I had about Ruby Tuesday. I was disappointed I couldn’t peer pressure Jenna into also getting a mega-beer.
Rachel says: My Diet Coke was served in a mug. Maybe they didn’t want me feeling left out from all the large beers. That’s nice.
John says: Started out a bit rough but Sevyron (yes that was his name) eventually upped his game. He was attentive but not overly so. Only slip up was the hot toddy issue.
Aaron says: Todd the server, who’s real name was something with an S, was good, not great. Minus points for not knowing what a hot toddy was, but bonus points for figuring it out and making one! [Ed. note: Great attitude, Aaron. This is like reading a high five.]
Rachel says: I agree with John. Sevyrude started out weak but grew on me. He asked if my entree was ok (since I’d barely touched it), but when I explained to him my strategy of filling up on the Garden Bar and taking it home, he seemed confused but not annoyed. Many other servers would be annoyed, but not Stuyvusant.
John says: Totally casual. The Roseville Ruby Tuesday is tucked into the mall. You could shop to your heart’s delight and then eat. If you want. Or whatever, it’s your shopping trip. Stop hassling me.
Aaron says: Pretty high on the casualosity scale. I didn’t break out the flip flops on account of the December-in-Minnesota tundra that had settled in for the holidays. I wonder if there wasn’t the influx of tired shoppers if it would have given off a classier vibe? My sources point to no.
Rachel says: I don’t think any restaurant with a salad bar can rank below, like, a 3 on the casualosity scale.
Ambiance:Some mall restaurants transport the diner away from the hustle and bustle of the shopping experience (see: Our #1 ranking, The Cheesecake Factory). Some don’t. This falls into the latter category.
John says: Fairly bland. Not much in the way of cool stuff on the wall. However, it’s clear that Ruby Tuesday is probably on its way out of business. They’ve already closed a bunch of locations nationwide. The mats on the table clearly hadn’t been cleaned in a while. There was chipped drywall and paint. So, not that awesome. 1.5 cheesecakes.
Aaron says: If you like run-down, family restaurants at the mall, with peeling, grungy wall paper, this place is for you. Just don’t look under the table cloth. There’s no way they clean or sanitize under there.
Rachel says: I didn’t really notice the ambiance one way or another. That’s on me. But that doesn’t reflect well on it, does it?
John says: we ordered 2 desserts to share between 5 people. Which is good because I was feeling bloated AF. The cheesecake was good but not up to the standards of the OCB cheesecake. We tried their featured dessert, a blueberry lemon cake, which was exceptional. I am usually not a huge lemon person, unless it’s a lemon party (I dare the editor to link lemon party [Ed. note: No way, our coworkers read this.]).
Aaron says: Lemon confectioneries are my favorite (see discussion on lemon pledge flavored frozen custard). I made sure to order the Blueberry Lemon Cake, and Rachel let me because when I actually get excited about something, it must be a big deal. If warm lemon cake with ice cream on top covered in blueberries is wrong, I don’t want to be right.
Rachel says: Aaron rarely displays emotion beyond a shrug, so when he voiced his strong preference for this lemon bundt cake, I knew we had to make his dream come true. Luckily for the rest of us, it was a warm and delicious treat. I would have never ordered it myself, but the beauty of our group is trying new things. The cheesecake was fine, but didn’t stand out.
John says: teaching a bartender to make a hot toddy.
Aaron says: Holiday cheer with friends! And the lemon cake, obvi.
Rachel says: Multiple trips to the salad bar. And the exchange during which John ordered a hot toddy and confusion ensued. Our group learned a lesson about assumptions (i.e. assuming a bartender knew how to make a drink), and Sevyron learned how to make a hot toddy. Everyone won.
Least favorite part:
John says: Not singing the Rolling Stones song together.
Aaron says: Gross table cloths, grandma’s old wall paper reincarnated at a mall restaurant.
Rachel says: Parking in the wrong part of the mall and having to sprint through the JC Penney to get to the restaurant. I was still late.
Our next outing: We’re heading to (gulp) the Mall of America to eat at (double gulp) Hooter’s. Yep.