Archive | December, 2009

Monday Night Was Magical 3- Enough of Ruby Tuesday

28 Dec

December 28, 2009

In order to spare you the pain and discomfort usually caused by reading my previous blogs, I’m providing you with a handy QUICK RECAP of the previous two blogs in this series. Of course, there is little I can do to spare you the pain and discomfort of reading this new blog, but hey, we all take our chances in life.

QUICK RECAP: The Earth cooled and life began. Plants flourished on land, while in the seas the oceans teemed with life. Eventually life got a foothold on land, the dinosaurs rose and fell, extreme weather conditions totally unrelated to man-made carbon emissions caused catastrophic Earth changes in a scientifically proven cyclical nature, and millions of years later my brother and I went into the city. (Brooklyn people always call Manhattan “The City,” as if we live in bucolic wonderland this side of the Battery Tunnel. But I digress.) We were on our way to a Rangers game, but first we shopped at Mid-Town Comics (their motto: “If you can make it up our stairs, why not spend $200 on graphic novels?”)

As our story today opens, Curtis is still recovering from his car accident, Rhonda and Janine are reading Blake’s diary, and my brother and I have made our way to the second floor of an oddly dark brown Ruby Tuesday restaurant, have been seated, and are perusing the menu while our black-clad Dark Jedi, er, waiter, hovers nearby….

The menu was-
“Let me tell you about our menu.” The waiter buzzed right in over and around my right shoulder and hovered over us. He had perfect diction, the kind you only hear when someone is trying to make a bus driver understand English in a non-English speaking country. I only wish I could enunciate like him. Not only did you hear each individual syllable, but you could hear the perfect echo off of each of his perfect teeth. Like every other server in the place, he seemed to be an (I assume) out-of work actor. I must say, he had memorized this script well.

“Our menu has changed recently. Have you been to a Ruby Tuesday before?”
“Well, I-“
“That’s wonderful. We now offer a greatly expanded salad bar, with new and fresh sides. Our salad bar used to have only one type of lettuce, but as you may have seen as you passed through to your table, we now have three.”
“Uh, I noticed.”
“That’s wonderful. You may see if you open your menu that we now have a selection of steaks that covers nearly half the page. Our old steak section only went down about a quarter of the page.”
“Ah.”
“That’s wonderful. Below the steak you’ll find out selection of mini-burgers. These are fresh ground beef and come in a variety of types, each with a selection of special sides. If you prefer soup…?”
“Soup? I don’t know-“
“That’s wonderful. Do you have any food allergies I should be aware of? Because I can alert you to various potentially dangerous items on our menu that may cause a hazard to you wellbeing.”
“I’m allergic to penicillin. Do you have antibiotics on your menu?”
“Ha, ha, no.”
“That’s wonderful. Give us a couple of minutes to decide.”

I know what you’re thinking. And no, I’m not making this up. In fact, I have considerably edited his speech. To me, the menu looked like the menu at any other franchise, except the food was pictured on square plates instead of round. Truthfully, despite the fact that I had, in reality, not noticed the three kinds of lettuce in the salad bar, I did notice the square plates. They were nice.

Our server buzzed away, nearly ten whole feet, and buzzed around another table. They already had their food but he buzzed about them just in case.

When he flew back, I made the mistake of ordering a lemonade.
“Ohh, wonderful choice. Our lemonade comes in three flavors, and you have three choices of fruit to mix on the bottom.”
Ugh! After wondering if I could just get a Pepsi, I got a regular lemonade with peaches on the bottom. It may be tart, I was warned.

 It was. It was so tart as to be undrinkable and I asked for a Pepsi instead.
“That’s wonderful.”

We finally got around to actually ordering actual, “wonderful,” food. I had two mini burgers with the salad bar on the side. My brother ordered some sort of bacon cheeseburger (well done) with a silly pseudo-French name. (“Le Bacon Burger Avec Fromage, or something like that.) His appetizer (boneless buffalo wings like you could get anywhere, even Wendy’s, but only be charged a fraction of the Ruby Tuesday price) came and I went to the salad bar.

True, the salad bar did feature three types of lettuce and square plates. What it did not feature were croutons. In place of croutons was a jar of small pieces of soft white bread. Had to be a mistake, I figured, and looked for the croutons. The soft white bread was the croutons. So I took one kind of lettuce, some broccoli, carrots, cheese, onions, and Thousand Island dressing. I passed on the cherry tomatoes, the cauliflower, the strange raisins and carrots in hot cream sauce concoction, and totally pretended I never saw the German potato salad with the green hue and things that may or may not have been pimentos mixed in. There was also a large urn of soup. I couldn’t see into it but the sign on the urn said that the urn contained SOUP-HOT. I remembered that my server said something about soup, but he also said something about every single item on the menu, including items no longer found on the menu.

I skipped the soup.

I returned to the table to eat my salad, which turned out to be quite good. While I was gone, the server had switched my lemonade for a Pepsi. I’m good. I can tell a dark brown fizzy drink from a light yellow drink with fruit on the bottom, especially when the brown fizzy drink is in a glass labeled “Pepsi.” I may not know the capital of New Jersey, but thanks to my NYC public school education I can tell a Pepsi from a lemonade.

Swoosh! It was my server. Before I had both cheeks settled on my seat, there he was. “I made that change you wanted.”
“Thank you.”
“The Pepsi for the lemonade. It was too tart. I told you it may be. We use fresh lemons, not powder and some find it too tart.”
“Umphrgrub.” (I had a mouthful of salad.)
“That’s wonderful. I’ll tell the kitchen to get moving on your entrees.”

At around this point we started worrying about what kind of tip we’d have to leave this guy. My brother suggested we tip him now so he’d leave us alone.

A different server brought out our main course so we were saved from Hamlet’s soliloquy. This server, a cute young girl, had a perky smile, perky hair, and other perky anatomical parts that I appreciated but I’ll leave to your imagination. I would have much preferred she stayed awhile because as soon as she left, and the plates were still settling down on the table and getting comfortable, our server swooped in and asked “did you get your meals?” Jeez, THEY WERE RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIM. This guy NEVER deviated from the script. I merely pointed to the plates.
“That’s wonderful,” he smiled.

My two mini-burgers were tasty, not too unlike White Castle’s truth be told, but even with the salad bar, were not worth the $21 dollars I was charged. My brother’s “Le Bacon Burger Avec Fromage,“ well done, was only well done until the first bite, when we realized that the burger was light pink inside. Rather than deal with the waiter he ate it anyway. He decided it was preferable to risk the parasites.

We signaled for the waiter, who was reciting the dessert menu even before he reached us.
“…..in both sundae and float varieties-“
“Sorry, sorry, we just want the check.”
“No time for dessert?”
“No, we have to get to the Ranger game.”
“That’s wonderful.” He turned to look straight at me. “I like your shirt,” and he walked away.

I looked down, suddenly curious to see if my Fantastic Four t-shirt had spontaneously morphed into a nicer shirt. It had not.

The check came and, annoyingly, it had an 18% tip already included. Larry David did this shtick far better than I can, so I’ll let you find it on youtube. Suffice it to say that after some calculations on my phone’s tip calculator, we figured the server was entitled to another $4.58, which we rounded down to $4.

Now it was time to go. We were going to jump on the subway one stop to the Garden and had time to get there early if only the waiter would take our check. For the first time all night he was nowhere to be seen. I was just fed up with the place and we left the money on the table, something I never do. I always imagine that as soon as I walk away somebody from a nearby table will reach over and steal the money, and I’ll get grabbed by security on the way out. But at this point I didn’t care, and no, we weren’t stopped.

The Ruby Tuesday restrooms were harder to find than the elevators but I managed. (The trick was to look behind the benches. Yes, they had benches blocking the entrances to the restrooms.)

We took the crowded spiral staircase down, and made our way to MSG. Despite the fact that the Rangers lost on an overtime shoot-out, Madison Square Garden and the Broadway Blues always put on a good show. We sat in the next to top row, and I have always maintained that there is no bad seat in the Garden.

Well I was wrong. Section 401 is one of the only places in the building with obstructed view seats. Believe me, the way the Rangers played, I was glad not to be able to see some of it.

Later on, the evening over, as we took the train back to Brooklyn, I just had one question still bothering me; what kind of soup was in the urn? I knew I should have listened to the waiter.

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Monday Night Was Magical 2- Ruby Tuesday

23 Dec

December 23, 2009

So after we left the comic store we still had an hour and half before the game so we decided to go get something to eat. Diagonally across the street was Ruby Tuesday. (BTW- although I think the Rolling Stones are very overrated, that’s a good song. You don’t think the Stones are overrated? Feel free to visit the Mr. Blog Home Office in Damascus to file a complaint.) Anyway, as far as I knew, Ruby Tuesday was another Bennigan’s/Applebee’s/TGI Fridays/Doctor Throat-Tickler’s Foodery or some sort of generic place with WACKY STREETSIGNS WHOOO-HOOOO on the wall and out of state college football on the TV’s.

“They had a lot of complaints awhile ago. I think they redid them all,” my brother remarked.

Complaints? In the name of not doing too much original writing (that’s just work) I went online to www.complaintsboard.com and helpfully (and quickly too) copied and pasted some of the complaints into this blog.

When we went up to the salad bar all of the plates were dirty. We are not going to make a big deal we said. Then our food comes out. My sister’s boyfriend cuts open his chicken sandwich and it was pure pink. The restaurant didn’t compensate us at all for the terrible service and uncooked food. We will never eat at Ruby Tuesday’s again.

Did they compensate them for the hospital bill is what I want to know.

One major complaint and a bill for my lost time is in order. We ordered meal at 8:15 pm Sunday night. There were two adults and one child (3 yr old) in my party. Child’s meal delivered in 10 minutes. No silverware. Had to ask for silverware. Next we discovered that we needed a straw for child’s beverage, and ketchup. It took no less than 3 other servers (other than our waitress) before we finally had the child eating. Here’s the real issue the two adult meals never arrived. We went to complain and were informed by Manager (also cook (?)) at 8:55 PM that our meals were given to other customers. Told that meal would be put on now and we could wait another 20 minutes (ordered New Orleans Seafood and Burgers). We told manager/cook we couldn’t wait. Manager offered to comp meal, offered us cheesecake, offered us a gift certificate, even offered a complaint number. We agreed to accept a gift card – we had waited an hour for our dinner and were still hungry. Manager left to retrieve complaint telephone number and gift certificate. We wait a few more minutes -about 5 minutes- and our waitress shows up with our bill to pay. We walk out. Ruby Tuesday Inc. has lost my business.

Ruby Tuesday Inc? Is that how the NASDAQ lists them? Are these diners selling their stock?

My wife and I visited this store two weeks in a row and ordered a steak and was told they were out of this steak, we would have to order something else.

This is a STEAK PLACE. They RAN OUT OF STEAK in a STEAK PLACE? That’s like Burger King running out of processed meat-type byproduct.

I left out the entry about the worms. Don’t say Mr. Blog doesn’t love his readers.

However, to be fair, I found this on Wikipedia, the lazy blogger’s best friend:

In 2007, the Company began re-branding itself, moving out of the “bar-and-grill” segment of the industry, with changes including higher-quality menu items and handcrafted beverages.

As a part of re-branding, the company began remodeling its restaurants as a part of “a three-year plan to reposition, reinvent and reinvigorate the Ruby Tuesday brand”.Ruby Tuesday CEO and Chairman Sandy Beall explains the re-branding in his letter to shareholders, found in the company’s FY2007 Annual Report:

Elevating Ruby Tuesday above the crowd to a memorable, high-quality dining experience is critical to our growth and success. … We began by bringing our guests fresh, exciting new menu choices, then raised our standards of service, and are now creating an innovative new look and style for each and every restaurant. This revitalization will appeal to our loyal core guests while attracting a new generation of consumers.

HA ha ha, corporate bullshit. See how much space I took up without writing a thing? That’s blogging the lazy way.

OK, now that I was fair, a rare thing, let me now proceed to complain.

We walked into the place and went to the hostess counter. She asked us if we’d like to eat downstairs or upstairs. We looked around. Downstairs was dark brown. Very dark brown. Dark brown seats around black tables, dark brown walls with black accents. Dark brown menus. There were only eight tables and a bar, around which was a group of hipster types with spiked hair and interchangeable clothes.

“We’ll go upstairs.”
“Ohh, nice choice. There’s a salad bar upstairs.”
I wanted to punch her but I was curious about what else she didn’t tell us.
“You can take the stairs or the elevator,” she informed us.
I had enough of stairs at the comic store (see part 1). “We’ll take the elevator.”
“Ohh, nice choice.”
I wanted to punch her again.

Not wanting to dare ask, we turned to find the elevator ourselves. There were three doors nearby, all of which looked nothing at all like elevator doors. They were lined up and partly hidden by potted plants. I assumed that I was looking in the wrong place because there were no buttons on the wall. On my right was a glass wall looking to the street. Behind me was another wall looking out on the street (we were on a corner) and to my left was the hostess, still smiling at me as if her face was botoxed that way. Just before I could ask, one of the can’t-be-the-elevator doors opened with a clank and a groan and the middle door opened to reveal three people crammed into an elevator the size of a typical NYC janitor’s closet.

My brother said “I’m taking the stairs” and went up. I watched the three folks fight their way out and I got on. I never did see the outside buttons but the inside buttons were labeled, helpfully, “basement,” “floor,” and “roof.” I took a leap of faith and pressed “floor.” (“Ohh, nice choice,” I could hear in my head.)

Believe it or not, it was the right choice. And more unbelievably, I beat my brother upstairs as the staircase had more twists and turns than your average small intestine and every landing had people lounging on chairs and simply blocking the way.

We now walked up to the second floor hostess’s podium and she informed us that we’d be seated in a minute (*giggle*) because her server (*giggle*) was seating another customer (*giggle giggle*). Why was she giggling? I DON’T KNOW.

While I waited I looked around. Upstairs was as boring to look at as downstairs was. Dark brown, more dark brown, and black. Nothing on the walls. There was a full length window that should have looked out on a great mid-town vista but instead offered a full view of a dark office building.

The server wandered back and we were brought to our table, which I must admit looked very nice in a very dark brown kind of way. We were given our menus and told that our server (so this server was actually just a seater) is on his way.

I’d like now to point out that every single employee was dressed in total black, not a name tag, not a badge, not a single piece of flair breaking it up. I’m a New Yorker, though, so I’m used to that sort of thing. In fact, I’ve had friends who wore nothing but black and would curl up and fade into a wisp of smoke if they ever wore yellow.

We perused the menus for as long as long as three milliseconds until our server showed up.

TO BE CONTINUED.

Monday Night Was Magical

19 Dec

December 19, 2009

Monday night was magical. My sexy girlfriend and I (she’s a model) took a limo into the city, ate a fabulous dinner at a fancy restaurant, saw a Broadway show, and spent the night in a luxurious mid-town hotel. At least that is what I’ve been telling people.

Truth is I did no such thing. Well, I did go into the city, I did eat a meal, and I sort-of saw a Broadway show. You see, I tend to stretch the truth. Makes me feel like a big shot.

In reality, my brother and I took the train into the city to see the Rangers, AKA “The Broadway Blues” at MSG. So I say I did see a “Broadway show.” Sue me.

We started our Mid-Town sojourn at one of the greatest gifts Manhattan can bestow: Mid-Town Comics. They don’t need me to plug them but for the sake of taking up space in this blog I’ll do it. If there is something comic book related, they have it. If they don’t have it you don’t need it. They have two floors full of stuff that just compels the money out of your wallet. You don’t even know it. Walk in and ten minutes later you are standing at the register behind a pile of stuff Webster couldn’t see over while the guy behind the counter calls in your credit card and asks for a credit line increase. It is that good. There must be some magic in that old silk hat they found, how else to explain all the people buying $100 Wolverine busts?

If Mid-Town Comics has a problem, it is the one thing they don’t have and desperately need: a way in. As I said, they are two floors of the best stuff a comic book nerd could ever want. Trouble is, the two floors are the second and third floors of a building. The first floor is taken up by souvlaki stands, fake Rolex shops, the World’s Smelliest T-Shirt Shop, and an unmarked door guarded by a large bald man in sunglasses and a leather coat that must have taken the combined hides of four cows to make.

To get to the comics shop, you have to climb up a staircase to the second floor, a long straight climb without a landing. I assume there is a handicapped entrance somewhere- maybe the bald guy is guarding it. Aside from the long climb, the main trouble with the staircase is that it is too narrow. I hope no building inspectors are reading this. The staircase is too narrow for two people to pass. If someone is walking down and you want go up, you have to wait for the person to get to the bottom. Even if the guy going down the stairs is 96 years old, takes the stairs one step at a time and then waits to catch his breath, you’re stuck waiting.

I stepped on the bottom step to go up at the same time as someone stepped on the top step to go down.

We stopped.

I stared up.
She stared down.
I squinted at her, Larry David style.
She kept staring.

My brother said “oh this is bullshit!” and pushed past me and went upstairs. I followed along, and when we got to the top the woman kept staring at me. Who cares? I was where I wanted to go.

A lot of people have a wrong idea of comic book readers. They expect fat guys in Fantastic Four t-shirts and old baseball caps. Nothing could be further from the truth. Mid-Town Comics was crowded with men in business suits, guys in casual office wear, women in smart skirts. In fact, the only fat guy in a Fantastic Four t-shirt and an old baseball cap that day was me.

I spent about $80 to stimulate the economy (including a George Perez JLA collection and a hardcover of The Return of the Sinister Six. I tell you this in case you were going to get me either of these as a Christmas present.) and somehow managed to avoid the allure of the $100 Wolverine busts. We went to go back down the stairs and damn if there wasn’t a 96 year-old man coming up the stairs one at a time, catching his breath at every step.

Twenty minutes later we were down the stairs and on our way to eat.

TO BE CONTINUED

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