Several readers have commented on Ruth’s Keystone Café as one of their favorites for lunch and I thought it time I write it up. I have been several times, but it had been awhile, so I thought it was time for a trip back.
It is a small little restaurant in a strip mall across from the Fashion Mall. The menu is quite appealing and I have tried several things—pretty much all of which have been good. On this most recent trip, hubby and I got 2 sandwiches and split them—the Brie L.T. and the Missile.
The Brie L.T. is described as bacon, brie, romaine lettuce, tomato and tarragon aioli on Italian bread heated in a panini press. The sandwich was very tasty, had the right amount of brie, and although I didn’t see any romaine, it was mixed greens, I think that is probably an improvement. The only thing I didn’t really taste that much was the tarragon aioli, I think a slightly more liberal application could have improved it. But all in all, I would order it again.
The missile is described as braised chicken breast with roasted tomatoes, caramelized onions, and gorgonzola on a hoagie bun (pictured below). I liked this sandwich as well, the tomatoes were quite tasty (more flavorful than the plain tomatoes in the Brie L.T.) and it had a good amount of the chicken and onions (although, I generally expect caramelized onion to have a bit of color to them, and these didn’t, but they were still good). Again, the only thing was, it could use a bit more of the unique ingredient, the gorgonzola. I think I only had one bite where I could really taste it. Hubby suggested maybe it is because some people don’t like blue cheese, but I think if you are ordering a sandwich with blue cheese, you should really be able to taste it. And if you don’t like it, order something else. There are lots of choices here.
I have also had the cobb chicken sandwich on several occasions, and it may be one of my favorites. It is shredded chicken, bacon, avocado (natch), blue cheese, aioli and sprouts (I get mine without sprouts because there are just so many of them) on a hoagie. This is quite tasty as well, even if it suffers from the same lack of the blue cheese that the missile does. Like I said, I want to be able to really taste it.
The sandwiches all come with a nice side salad of mixed greens with their house vinaigrette which is very good. And I appreciate the health factor of this as well. The bread is also high quality and in the right proportion to the rest of the toppings.
I have also had the warm wild mushroom salad with spinach, blue cheese, candied walnuts and truffle vinaigrette. This salad is really good and all the ingredients complement each other perfectly. I would say this is my second favorite thing here.
Ruth’s also has a very extensive breakfast menu which is very intriguing and offers daily specials as well. I am always curious about the daily benedict special (as well as the several benedicts they have on the menu) which plays on the basic theme with many variations (crab cakes, salmon, asparagus, etc).
My one gripe about the actual interior is the way the restaurant is laid out (a long rectangle with a door leading in right in the middle), that no matter where you sit, if it is winter, every time the door opens, you freeze for a second. Maybe a curtain in front of the door somehow or something like that would improve this problem. Also, occasionally the service is a bit slow, particularly if there is a big crowd (which there often is), so prepare for that if you are crunched for time.
All in all, I think Ruth’s is a very good, high quality lunch place with the potential to be great with a little more consistency and attention paid to making sure all the flavors in the dishes are presented in the right proportions. They have got the right combinations; they just need to perfect it.
Ruth’s Keystone Café
3443 East 86th Street