The Weekly Eater

Nadine Kam

They’re lining up at
Ruby Tuesday for real-
people grinds

THOSE who have waited in two-hour lines to get into The Cheesecake Factory may experience a little déjà vu in Mililani. Since Ruby Tuesday opened last month, those in Leeward/Central Oahu have also grown familiar with one of the undesirable aspects of dining -- The Line.

At Ruby Tuesday, The Line starts at about 4 p.m. no matter the weather, the day of the week or whether "American Idol" is on. Yes, believe it or not, there are still some people who just don't give a rip about America's favorite TV talent contest, or maybe they were hoping for a slow night, or maybe they know about the many television sets scattered throughout the restaurant and tuned into KHON/Fox on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

Compared to The Cheesecake Factory, though, The Line at Ruby Tuesday is a breeze, with waits of a half hour to 45 minutes. Use your time wisely to study the menu and size up the salad bar which starts out with lettuce and mesclun with an impressive array of toppers. With diced ham, bacon bits, roasted sunflower seeds, blue cheese, crumbled hard-boiled eggs, you can build a magnificent salad for $4.99 with entree purchase, $10.49 a la carte. You'll probably need it because it's been a while since I've seen a restaurant so unabashedly carnivore-friendly.

There's always a full house at Ruby Tuesdays.

The interior of the family restaurant is done up T.G.I.Fridays-style eclectic with all sorts of memorabilia tacked to the walls, in this case with a high school sports theme encompassing trophies, team photos, baseball bats and skis (bet they nevah grad hea).

And you can't overlook the ambient wails of children, another main component of the Ruby Tuesday experience, which is good news to any parent who's ever complained about staying home due to a lack of kid-friendly dining ops. Keep the young'uns happy with chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, and grilled cheese sandwiches ($5.99 each), and more.

IF YOU KEEP up with food writing at all, you'd think everyone was trying to lighten up over the past decade, eschewing cream and butter for balsamic vinegar and olive oil, and substituting red meat for fish.

Forget about media reality. Ruby Tuesday just may represent the "real world" in which we talk nutrition but feast on creamy (read fatty) Alfredo sauces, gallons of barbecue sauce, and what might best be described as "man food" -- ribs, burgers and steaks. (Eater extra: The proof is on Wall Street as the price of Ruby Tuesday stock has been rising steadily for five years.)

The walls are decorated with memorabilia and stained glass lamps hang above tables.

If you're going to pig out, might as well go all the way. Ruby's offers three kinds of pork ribs (full rack $18.99): Classic "Hang Off the Plate" barbecue style, spicy honey BBQ and Memphis style. Of course my favorite and as far as I'm concerned the highlight of the menu is the Memphis, with its Tennessee dry rub, the best way to prepare ribs. If you must have honey BBQ, note that there is a spicy layer, and in this town heat isn't welcome with sweet.

A hamburger ($8.49) I tried was dry but you can sure get it a lot of ways: seasoned with peppercorns and topped with bleu cheese; with bacon and cheddar; with pepper jack and bacon; or with garlic and mushrooms.

If you're not having ribs or burgers, you must be having steak, like a 10-ounce sirloin with mushrooms and Alfredo sauce ($16.99), or Hawaiian ribeye ($16.99), marinated 24 hours in a pineapple-ginger concoction that tastes no more exotic than teriyaki. Ask for medium doneness and you'll get well-done every time, but it's hard to reject ribeye.

Smoky Mountain Chicken ($10.99) conjured imagery of a rustic half chicken platter, but was no more than a grilled chicken patty topped with standard barbecue sauce, Monterey Jack and bacon. It's also coated in the Cajun spices that turns out to be the solution to every flavor dilemma. Want people to eat more fish? Roll that snapper ($11.99) in Cajun spices.

Fajitas and low-carb wraps round out the menu. And dessert? You won't need them. I meant to try the chocolate mousse Tallcake drenched in caramel and fudge sauces, but I leave that to your conscience.

And about the service ... the staff should take a field trip to Cheesecake Factory and learn their secrets. It's huge and the waits are long but once you're seated you feel there are three people catering to your every need. At Ruby Tuesday, you have to ask four people before getting something as simple as a napkin.

Ruby Tuesday

Town Center of Mililani, 95-1249 Meheula Parkway / 623-4949

Food Star Star Half-star

Service Star Star

Ambience Star Star Half-star

Value Star Star Half-star

Hours: Open 10:30 a.m. daily, closing 11 p.m. Mondays to Thursdays, midnight Fridays and Saturdays, and 10 p.m. Sundays

Cost: About $30 to $40 for two without drinks

See some past restaurant reviews in the Columnists section.

Nadine Kam's restaurant reviews are conducted anonymously and paid for by the Star-Bulletin. Star ratings are based on comparisons of similar restaurants:

very good, exceeds expectations;
below average.

To recommend a restaurant, write: The Weekly Eater, P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, Hawaii 96802. Or send e-mail to


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