Named after a Rolling Stones song, Ruby Tuesday offers simple American dining in a modern atmosphere with a strong focus on the freshness and quality of food, teamed with staff who are passionate about serving it. Situated in the food court of St David’s shopping centre in Cardiff, Ruby Tuesday competes with the likes of Nando’s, T.G.I. Friday’s and Chiquito and has a second restaurant under the same name based in Cheltenham.
My friend Daniel and I visited Ruby Tuesday for dinner on Friday evening. As we arrived, we were greeted straight away and escorted to a table by a waitress who kindly introduced herself as Alison. Alison was really positive and friendly, with an extensive knowledge of the menu and despite the restaurant being busy, nothing was too much trouble for her.
As we pondered over the menu, we decided to try one of the cocktails from Ruby Tuesday’s impressive range. On Alison’s advice, we tried the signature Ruby Relaxer (£5.49) from the Premium Cocktails range. Served in a pint glass, this combination of Long Island iced tea and Lynchburg Lemonade (with Jack Daniel’s whiskey) was fruity, sweet and refreshing. It tasted more like fruit juice than an alcoholic cocktail, but by the time I’d reached the bottom of my glass I was in no doubt that this concoction contained alcohol – it certainly relaxed me, that’s for sure!
The food menu consisted of appetisers, light bites, salads, ribs and combos (chicken/shrimp), fast and fresh combinations (soup, mini burgers, buffalo chicken and tacos), burgers, pasta, seafood, chicken, steak, sides and desserts. In addition, the Create Your Own Garden Bar option can be added on to any entree for £2.99, or can be chosen as a side order with any dish from the ‘fast and fresh combinations’ range.
To start, we shared the barbecue chicken flat bread (£9.99), topped with chunks of barbecue chicken, red onions, fresh cilantro and smoky cheddar cheese, accompanied by Buffalo chicken tenders (£6.49), chicken dipped in Ruby Tuesday’s signature batter and fried, served with a choice of mild or hot Buffalo sauce.
I thought £9.99 was a bit steep for a flatbread, but when it arrived at our table the cost seemed more justifiable.The flatbread was the biggest I’ve ever seen and it was loaded with mountains of chicken and cheese – a meal in itself! The base was soft, fresh and relatively light, although the generosity of the topping made this dish quite a challenge for two people to eat as a starter and could feed three to four guests quite comfortably.
The Buffalo chicken tenders were a dark golden brown in colour, a generous portion heaped onto a pile of fresh lettuce, teamed with mild Buffalo sauce and two handy lemon wipes. The batter was rich and well seasoned and the chicken tender, whilst the Buffalo sauce was creamy with just a hint of blue cheese.
Moving on to our main courses we both had our eye on a steak, having heard really positive feedback about Ruby Tuesday’s steak dishes. As the menu explains, Ruby Tuesday’s chefs have perfected the technique of cooking steak and we are invited to choose from several different options as to how we would like our steak to be cooked, including ‘rare cool, red center’, ‘medium rare warm, red center’ ‘medium warm, pink centre’ ‘medium well, slightly pink center’ and ‘well done, no pink brown throughout’.
All steaks are served with a choice of two sides, or one side and the Create Your Own Garden Bar option. I opted for the petite rump steak with jumbo skewered shrimp (£16.99) cooked ‘rare cool, red center’, served with French fries and the Create Your Own Garden Bar option. At 7oz the steak was just the right size for me and it was cooked to my liking, although unfortunately it was pretty tough, too cool in temperature and lacked flavour. However, the parmesan and blue cheese sauce I chose to accompany my steak (+ £1.99) certainly helped to add taste. Furthermore I thoroughly enjoyed the jumbo shrimp, which were fresh, juicy and very tasty, having been brushed with seasoned scampi batter.
The Create Your Own Garden Bar was a buffet bar offering a colourful selection of fresh salad, vegetables, pasta, coleslaw, crackers and dressings. It was well stocked and the food was of a high quality, although there was more room for variety and I would have liked to have seen some flavoured cous cous or rice, hard-boiled eggs and perhaps some bread rolls.
After discussing the various cuts of steak available with Alison, Dan ordered the Black Fire New York strip (£19.99), a 12 oz sirloin steak, seasoned and seared to ‘medium warm, pink centre’, accompanied by the red wine and mushroom sauce (+ £1.99) with French fries and mashed potato. I thought Dan’s steak looked delicious, but as he had asked for it to be pink inside and it was just as red as mine, he wasn’t too pleased with it. By the time he tried his steak he’d already poured the sauce over it, so it wasn’t really worth sending it back to the kitchen. Luckily though, the sauce was delicious and Dan found that it helped to make his steak taste more enjoyable.
By the time we had finished our main courses we felt pretty full up, but couldn’t resist a peek at the desserts menu. This featured five popular American desserts including carrot cake, brownie, double chocolate cake, New York cheese cake and apple pie a la mode. However, when Alison told us about a new dessert that had not yet been added to the menu – the ‘Tall Cake’ – I simply had to have it.
The Tall Cake is, as its name would suggest, rather tall, but it doesn’t consist solely of a cake but rather of a mixture of fresh cream, vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce and several slices of chocolate brownie cake, topped with a single Oreo. When Alison brought it to our table, we were genuinely surprised at how big it was. Dan had decided not to order dessert and so I asked if he’d like a spoon to share the Tall Cake with me. To my horror he said no, and so I sat in Ruby Tuesday eating this enormous dessert all to myself, feeling like quite the little piggy. It was sinfully sweet and I didn’t even manage to finish half of it – definitely one for sharing! As the Tall Cake was not yet listed on the menu I’m exactly sure of its cost, but going by the dessert menu prices I’d say it’d cost somewhere between £4.99 – £5.99.
Overall Dan and I enjoyed our visit to Ruby Tuesday, although we were pretty disappointed by the steak having heard such positive feedback about it from others. For us, the highlights of the evening were the cocktails, the barbecue chicken flatbread, the Buffalo chicken tenders and Alison’s excellent customer service. As a food blogger I’ve dined out at lots of different restaurants and it’s surprising how many fall down on customer service, but Ruby Tuesday have definitely got this nailed. If the restaurant can work on its steak-cooking technique and the quality of cuts used, I’m sure it will continue to be a popular restaurant in Cardiff city centre.
St David’s Centre
I was invited to Ruby Tuesday as a guest and our food and drinks were provided complimentary.
*Unfortunately, this restaurant has now closed down.