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Dining out: Ruby River Steakhouse

Published: Friday, Nov. 26 2004 9:51 a.m. MST

SANDY — Not to get political with the nasty election season just behind us, but in this case it's irresistible: my first thought about Ruby River Steakhouse was that this is a Republican sort of place.

You've got your large chunks of seared red meat on big platters. You've got your clubby dark woods and five-point-elk-heads-on-the-wall atmosphere. You've even got — no lie! — Toby Keith singing "Courtesy of the Red White and Blue" on the jukebox.

About the time Toby was singing about the Statue of Liberty shaking her fist, we were being seated in a cozy booth in the back, past the row of glitter-spangled cowboy boots.

That's the fun part of Ruby River. Despite its high-quality food and above-average prices, it's a casual place that doesn't take itself too seriously — in everything but service, which was excellent.

In a nod to the full political spectrum, there's Dixie Chicks on the jukebox, too.

We started our meal with the cheese fries and coconut shrimp. The big mound of fries is simply but tastily dressed with jack and cheddar cheeses and huge, savory chunks of thick-cut bacon.

My favorite, though, was the coconut shrimp, huge and juicy shrimp coated with crunchy coconut. They were nicely accompanied by sweet-bitter orange marmalade.

Ruby River has a fairly wide-ranging menu that includes pasta, salads, seafood, chops, ribs and, of course, steaks — or, as they're referred to on the menu, "Why You're Here."

That was definitely why my husband was there, and he opted for the 12-ounce filet mignon, wrapped in bacon, broiled and served with Ruby River's specialty "jacketed" baked potato, Caesar salad and sourdough bread.

The filet was delicious, a wonderfully tender cut of meat, lean and very juicy. The accompaniments lived up to it, too: the potato was fluffy-textured with a crisp skin, the salad was full of fresh greens with a sharp cheesy dressing, and the bread was aromatic and sour, especially good with butter.

Though tempted by the steak, the raspberry chicken and the new halibut entre, I went with the center-cut pork chops, two thick broiled chops basted with smoked apple-cranberry glaze. There was a nice little pot of this glaze accompanying the chops, and it's wonderful: sweet, smoky and fruity, a distinctive cut above the traditional applesauce. I had the baked potato and garden salad, also above average with fresh leaf lettuce, tomatoes, onions, carrots, shredded cheese, egg and croutons dressed with tangy raspberry vinaigrette.

The kids chose standards — chicken strips and pasta marinara — from the kids' menu, but they're well-done standards, with long planks of thin-breaded chicken and fettuccine with chunky, sweet-savory sauce.

We finished things off with what our waitress recommended as a customer favorite, the Rocky Mountain mud pie. The menu calls it "reminiscent of the Grand Teton," and it certainly is tall, a towering wedge of ice cream with a fine-textured chocolate cookie crust and a ribbon of peanut butter running through the middle.

The pie was just a little too frozen; the peanut butter formed a rock-hard layer that, at first, couldn't be penetrated except by pounding it with a fork. But my husband and the kids persevered because the pie was, indeed, tasty.

I had the delicious bread pudding, which was firm, fine-textured and not too sweet, with a rich, buttery bourbon sauce.

Appetizers $2.69-$8.99, salads and pasta $9.99-$14.99, entrees $13.49-$26.99, kids' meals $4.99-$8.99, desserts $4.49-$4.99


Rating: *** 1/2

Where: 85 E. 9400 South, Sandy (Jordan Commons; other locations in Salt Lake City, Provo, Ogden and Reno, Nev.)

Hours: Monday-Thursday 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

Friday-Saturday 11 a.m.-11 p.m.

Sunday 3-9 p.m.

Payment: Cash, credit cards

Reservations: Accepted

Phone: 569-1885

Web: www.rubyriver.com


Stacey Kratz is a freelance writer who reviews restaurants for the Deseret Morning News. E-mail: skratz@desnews.com

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