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?”
“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.”
“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.
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.”
“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.