In an era where you can buy almost any food pre-cooked and preserved in a tightly wrapped stay-fresh pack, it's nice to know the folks at Ruby's Kitchen in Toledo are committed to making things the old fashioned way -- from scratch.
Ruby's menu features all the staples of a soul food joint -- greens, baked beans, macaroni and cheese, baked and fried chicken, barbecue ribs, smothered pork chops, rice and gravy, pinto beans, catfish, cabbage, sweet potatoes, "Cha Cha" sauce, and much more.
All of it is served in a strip-center spot with homey interior. Many of the dishes are daily specials -- Ruby's meatloaf ($9.59) on Tuesdays, pork neck bones ($9.99), pigs feet ($8.59) and oxtails ($12.59) on Thursdays. Sunday brings barbecue ribs, chicken and dressing and roast beef with mashed potatoes ($12.99).
Our first visit felt like a trip to Grandma's house. Big sturdy wooden tables covered with crocheted table cloths and with seating for eight were placed throughout the dining room. Heavy burgundy drapes accented the dining room window and family photos were displayed on the walls.
Our dinner included fried chicken wings, fried catfish, green beans, cabbage, macaroni and cheese, and spaghetti. The fried chicken was well-seasoned, but not salty. It was crunchy and crispy on the outside and the meat was juicy and surprisingly not-at-all greasy. The catfish also was deep-fried and battered just enough to give it a thin layer of crunchy coating. The fillet was thick and tasted fresh. And again, it wasn't greasy.
The spaghetti and green beans weren't memorable, but the cabbage was fresh and crunchy with chunks of pork that added plenty of punch.
The service was amazing. Our waitress, and Ms. Ruby herself, made us feel like part of the family. They were accommodating and personable. Ms. Ruby chatted with people as they entered the restaurant and she visited tables to check on her guests.
There was a 15-20 minute lapse in time before we received our food, but like the menu says, "scratch cooking cannot be prepared at microwave speed." It was well worth the wait.
During a Saturday lunch visit, we were again greeted by Ms. Ruby. Anticipating the wait, we ordered hush puppies ($2.79) as an appetizer. The fried cornmeal concoction was stuffed with chopped onions and green peppers and fried to a golden brown crisp. They were moist but not greasy, and the filling was light.
For our entrees, we ordered a half slab of ribs ($13.99) and a combination plate of catfish and shrimp($16.79). Ruby's ribs were fall-off-the-bone tender and glazed in a sweet and tangy barbecue sauce that had guests licking their fingers. The shrimp were colossal and tasted fresh out of the water. Like the catfish, the shrimp were battered just enough to create a thin crunchy coating.
Our sides included fried potatoes and onions, which included bits of bacon, and fried corn, featuring chopped jalapeno for a sweet and spicy taste.
Dessert included peach cobbler ($3.29), homemade vanilla ice cream ($3.59), and sweet potato pie ($3.29) with a thick flaky homemade crust.
Ruby's isn't perfect, but it's fresh and soulful.
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Address: 4933 Dorr St.
Hours: 1 to 7 p.m. Sunday; noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday; closed Monday and Wednesday.
Wheelchair access: Yes.
Average Price: $$
Credit Cards: AE, Dis, MC, V.
Web site: msrubyskitchen.com.
Contact Bill of Fare at firstname.lastname@example.org -83.65844
Pull up a chair at West Toledo kitchen.