Restaurant Review: Ruby Tuesday (more a service review than food review)

I usually don't go out to sit-down restaurants often. I have a child that yells, "French fries!" every time we pass a McDonald's, Burger King, Sonic or Hardee's. Not that we eat fast food that often. But when we do eat out, it's usually something from a drive-through while we're in town running errands. (My child also knows when we go to Walmart he can get "Pop chicken" in a cup, so we have to get some every time we go through the door there.)

Last Saturday was my Mom's birthday (Hi Mommy! no, I'm not going to tell how old you are. Even though you're younger than ALL of my friends' parents.). My sister and I wanted to do something kinda nice for it, since my mom doesn't get to eat out often. She has Celiac disease. She can never, ever eat anything with gluten in it. For the rest of her life. Nothing with wheat, barley, rye, and a host of other ingredients. Nothing that could have possibly been cross-contaminated with The Gluten. Unless you know someone who has had to go gluten free, you have no idea how difficult it can be for a heathen gluten-eater to prepare anything that can be eaten by someone who is GF (gluten free). We do, when we can, but it's stressful for us. We take extreme measures to prevent cross-contamination in anything our mother will eat. We get anal about food prep and serving. If we didn't, she would get really, really sick from eating the food we prepare for her.

So my sister had the fabulous idea of taking her out to eat. There are a few restaurants that offer gluten free menus. Olive Garden is one. But the closest one is in the next large-ish town over. We don't have one in our hometown. But we DO have a Ruby Tuesday, and they offer GF menu items. SO my sister and I decided we would go to Ruby Tuesday. Belle (my sis) also invited our grandparents to eat with us. Since it IS their daughter and all. We kept the location a secret from Momma.

Belle baked a gluten free cake for our mom, using brand-new never-been-used-before mixing bowl, whisk, cake pan, rubber spatula. Using a box of cake mix that probably ran about $4.00 at the local grocery store. Using GF butter and icing. She carefully baked and iced the cake and wrapped it for the ride to the restaurant. She arranged for the waiter to hold it until after our meal, then bring it to the table with clean plates.

Our waiter was fantastic. I have never had better service anywhere. He totally got that our mom would get very sick, and stay sick for several days, if anything she ate was cross-contaminated with gluten. He had a very lengthy discussion with her on what she could and couldn't eat. She listed what extra ingredients to look for in items her food was prepared from. He diligently checked the ingredients list on everything that went into her food. He ensured the chef would carefully prepare her appetizer and meal, so that cross-contamination would be avoided.

Momma looked over the menu and selected appetizers that we could all share in. (We got the Spinach & Artichoke dip, Cheese dip and Guacamole with corn tortilla chips. De-lish!) She ordered her entree. We all ordered our entrees. The appetizers arrived. After Momma spooned out her portions, we all dove in. (We waited to avoid cross-contaminating the dips before she got hers out.)

The entrees arrived, and we all dug in. Lots of conversation and laughs were had over our late lunch/early dinner (it was, like 4:00 in the afternoon. But we planned it that way to avoid the dinner crowd. With, like, four decent restaurants in our town, dinner time on the weekends is really crowded. no matter which one you eat at.)

After our meal, the waiter brought out the cake and a stack of clean plates. We lit candles (Belle's boyfriend, The Beast, bought those Magic Re-light candles. Excellent! Momma enjoyed the joke as much as we did.) GF cake was ingested by all.

After a while, we started getting concerned glances from the wait staff. Kinda like, "These people have been here for two hours. They've had appetizers, entrees, and a cake they brought from home. They're paid their bill and left their tip. They haven't eaten a bite of food in the last twenty minutes. And here comes the dinner crowd. When are they leaving?" They had been so gracious and patient with all of our demands. We understood that they would like to break down the two tables they had used to make ours with and get our mess cleaned up before they got every other table in the joint filled. After all, the wait staff can't make more tips if we're occupying their tables for over two hours. So we took the party outside, to the benches in front of the restaurant. After another twenty minutes, we finally decided to call it a party well done and part ways.

I would like to extend a heart-felt thanks to that poor waiter. He put up with us so well. He was very friendly, and never complained about our requests with my mom's food. At least, to our faces. We were definitely not his easiest customers that day.

The best part of all? My mom didn't get sick. Success! We took her out to eat AND served her a homemade GF cake, and she was OK. It's all thanks to our exceptional waiter, who went to great lengths to ensure she got GF food. I don't remember his name, but I thought about going in there just to tell him that he did excellent that day.

What about you? Have you had an exceptional experience at a restaurant lately? What made it such a great experience?


Helen H. David said...

Thank you so much for my birthday party! I had a wonderful time! Love you!

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