Friday, August 12, 2011

Ruby Revisited

It’s easy to get spoiled living in a region with a top notch, thriving food scene—before you know it you’ve become one of those food snobs who used to make your eyes roll. You start seeking out the unique spots and locally grown dishes and suddenly you’ve written off your old fast food habit, readily forgetting the existence of the chain restaurants that gratify herds of Americans.

But is it possible to strike a balance—enjoy and support the local scene while still indulging in the collective food culture that many of us grew up on? We were recently given the opportunity to try out a new selection of cocktails served at Ruby Tuesday, and found ourselves surveying a familiar place from a more discriminating point of view. Inspiration flows freely when you are writing about new, hip places with unique personality, but could we find that in our visit to Ruby Tuesday?
Our main purpose was to try the summery line of VeeV cocktails now on the menu at Ruby’s. VeeV is a liquor made from the Açaí (ah-SIGH-ee) fruit grown and harvested in the Brazilian Rainforest and according to the website, is the world’s first Açaí Spirit. Sporting a tagline of “a better way to drink,” this beverage comes packed with nutrients that you probably aren’t thinking about while it’s going down. It is also marketed as an all natural, sustainable product.

We each tried two of the cocktails at happy hour as well as a couple of appetizers and desserts that ended up being quite a meal. Below is a description of the drinks and thoughts on each:
  • The Watermelon Martini—made with VeeV Açaí Spirit, Grey Goose Vodka, fresh watermelon, cranberry and watermelon juices. Some martinis are sinfully sweet but this one was well-balanced with a natural watermelon flavor; martinis aren’t our beverage of choice, but we didn’t leave a drop.
  • Açaí Mojito—made with VeeV Açaí Spirit, freshly muddled mintfresh, squeezed lime, agave nectar, and pomegranate served with a stick of sugar cane. Absolutely refreshing—a nice, fruity take on a classic.
  • Pomegranate Margarita—made with premium Cuervo Gold, POM Wonderful, VeeV Acai Spirit and organic agave nectar. A sweet and effective drink.
  • Superfruit Cooler—made with Veev Acai Spirit, Aboslut Berri Acai Vodka, Elderflower Liqueur, fresh cucumber, and organic agave nectar. Made with slices of cucumber, this was the top pick for the beer and whiskey drinker among us.
We admit that before this visit, our impression of Ruby Tuesday stopped shortly after the signature salad bar. So, when we tried a few of their menu items, we were pleasantly surprised.
Informed that the jumbo lump crab cake is a recipe from the founder’s wife, it came well seasoned with generous bites of crab and a tangy dipping sauce. The fresh guacamole dip was sizeable and made with jalapenos giving it a touch of heat—served with pico, salsa, and chips. We believe it includes unlimited chips, but we ate too fast to find out. Finally, to accompany our final sips we went for the dessert menu—Double Chocolate Cake and Blondie for Two. Pretty self-explanatory and fairly standard offerings, they both served their purpose well.

So what is the final verdict from two burgeoning foodies who acknowledge that they will eat almost anything? Coming from the marketing industry we can be a bit skeptical of the sales pitch, but from our experience we think the product stands up. In light of the restaurant’s image overhaul with a focus on fresh, higher end ingredients, we enjoyed giving it another try. While it’s a polished presentation with mostly predictable results, that doesn’t have to be a bad thing if you do it well. And of course there is always that salad bar.

P.S. We found it kind of cool that a big company found our little blog and reached out to let us try their product. Thanks to Ruby Tuesday and VeeV as well as Zuri Hadi and Seth Baker for the experience!

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