Good buy, Ruby Tuesday

OK, so I had a buy-one-get-one-free coupon for Ruby Tuesday, and it was expiring in a few days.

Now I had been there twice before. The first, on the day they opened, went OK, considering the circumstances.

The second, a couple of weeks later, didn’t go as well. We had problems from the time we sat down to the time we left after getting our entire meal comped.

Since I had the coupon, I thought I’d give them one more chance. I decided not to get my hopes up, though.

I called a friend and had him meet me at the restaurant, which is on Hospitality Lane in San Bernardino.

For those who haven’t been to Ruby Tuesday yet, the phrase that keeps coming to mind is “Upscale Coco’s.”

I mean that in a good way.

The restaurant itself is very cozy. My friend described it as a “date restaurant.”

To me, it’s like you’re dining in someone’s living room.

It’s a little bit of a throwback, with its dark wood and table lamp dcor.

Their menu focuses on burgers, steak and ribs, with pastas, seafood and salads rounding out the selections. My friend thought the menu was very “mid-Western.”

They’ve currently got a special seafood menu as well.

I decided on the Parmesan Shrimp Pasta ($13.99), a dish my Dad had the first time we visited Ruby Tuesday. My friend ordered the New Orleans Seafood ($14.99), spicy tilapia and shrimp topped with a Parmesan cream sauce.

We both ordered the all-you-can-eat “garden bar,” which was an extra $3.50.

The “garden bar” has been impressive each time I’ve been to Ruby Tuesday. It’s a smallish salad bar, but everything seems clean and fresh. It’s also all well-chilled. Everything is in metal bowls, and the bowls are placed on a cold tray. I’m surprised more places don’t operate their salad bars this way.

They’ve got a variety of lettuces, three kinds of cheese (Parmesan, Cheddar and blue) and delicious brown-bread croutons.

After I finished my salad, I noticed I was feeling full already.

But then the main courses showed up.

My pasta was, well, it was macaroni and cheese (with shrimp). But it was very good macaroni and cheese (with shrimp).

The shrimps had a nice bit of spice to them. The cheese sauce on the pasta was very creamy, but had a perfectly tangy aftertaste. I also appreciated that they added fresh diced tomatoes to the pasta.

Just don’t look at the calorie count.

My friend raved about his seafood dinner.

The tilapia and shrimp had the same spicy flavor as my shrimp and everything seemed perfectly done.

The portions are generous, but not over the top.

The service was also very good. I had a soda with dinner and not once did I have to ask for a refill.

With the coupon, our total came out to a little over $30, including tip. What a bargain!

So, after I thought I’d have to write off Ruby Tuesday’s, they redeemed themselves. They appear to have worked out all the problems that I’d experienced in my first two visits.

It seems the third time’s a charm, after all.