I’m not usually a big fan of chain restaurants; however, once you have children, you may one day—all of a sudden—find yourself regularly chowing down on bread sticks in a restaurant located in close proximity to a mall or shopping center. In this case it was Ruby Tuesday, and instead of bread sticks it was garlic and cheddar scones…thank goodness I didn’t need to be in close proximity to anyone after that.
Ruby Tuesday has become a sleeper favorite of my kids, and you’ll never guess why. The Salad Bar. A plastic shielded runway of vegetables can really turn kids on, apparently. Hey, I’m not complaining—better that than another delicious restaurant Kid’s Meal of Fried Everything.
It’s got leather booths. It’s got big windows on all sides and the lighting is good, but I couldn’t describe the “décor theme” of this place if I tried, and I am trying. It’s definitely nice, don’t get me wrong. And it’s certainly calmer and quieter than say a Chili’s or Friday’s, which can be good or bad depending on your little ones’ temperament. The friendly hostess seats us without delay and our attentive waiter shows up moments later to hand over two large menus for Grandpa and me. My son gets a folded up activity mat with a package of two crayons. He’s psyched, I’m hungry. What’s for lunch?
The adult menu has a large selection of typical American fare including salads ($7.99-$13.99), seafood ($11.99-$14.99), steaks and chicken ($11.99-$15.99), pasta dishes ($9.99-$12.99), ribs and platters ($9.99-$12.99) and burgers and sandwiches ($7.49-$10.99). In addition to this menu, you can also get lunchtime specials which are smaller versions of regular menu items. Also, if you’re trying to eat healthy or stay on a calorie budget, they offer Fit & Trim menu items and include calorie counts (all under 700 calories, although most hover around 500) for each dish which I think is responsible and helpful. And the dishes actually sound really good! Score one for Ruby Tuesday.
The children’s menu offers pasta, mac-n-cheese, mini burgers, chicken strips, grilled chicken, fried shrimp, chop steak and salad bar ranging from $3.99-$4.99 (all kids meals include a soft drink, milk or juice box) and those entrees that come with a side include mashed potatoes, apples, broccoli or fries. My son, of course, wants the salad bar. Great! We head over to heap his plate with cucumbers, peas, matchstick carrots, cottage cheese, grapes and more ham cubes than you ever seen a 3’6” child consume. I’m thrilled he’s able and willing to get such a healthy meal out at a restaurant. Score two for Ruby Tuesday.
Grandpa’s on a burger kick and because I’m looking for something a bit “lighter”, I opt for the Petite Grilled Salmon Salad (again, a smaller version of their dinner salad entree which is also on the Fit & Trim menu). Healthy and delicious.
My dad says his hamburger has “too much bread”, but I’m thinking it’s not really the depth of the bun he’s upset about, it’s that it’s a wheat bun. “Healthy” as he’d call it. My salad is the perfect size and has a nice piece of grilled salmon atop fresh mixed greens, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, peas and grated parmesan. They even had Light Ranch dressing, which I liked because a girl can get really sick of the only option for a “light” salad dressing being a vinaigrette.
What’s The Damage
For two adult lunches and one children’s salad bar, the bill came to around $25. I like the pricing of the kid’s meals and although the lunch options are a few dollars on the high side, I like that Ruby Tuesday offers healthy dishes and side alternatives for both kids and adults. That being said, Ruby’s also has fresh baked chocolate chip cookies on their children’s dessert menu for $1.99. Maybe chain restaurants aren’t so bad after all.
The Bottom Line (based on a five-star rating):
Distraction Offering: ??? (they provide two crayons and an activity mat—oh, and a salad bar.)
Atmosphere: ??? (the dark colors and cozy lighting make you feel right at home)
Food: ???¾ (some dishes are winners, some are so-so, but I love the healthier options they offer)
Affordability: ???½ (the kids’ menu is a pretty good deal)
Service: ???? (everyone from the hostess to the manager was warm and friendly)
1574 Woodbury Avenue, Portsmouth NH (603) 559-9740