DRAPER — Ruby Tuesday is one of those places with a good vibe.

It might be in part the decor, which reflects the community: an old Alta High band uniform, a John Stockton poster, tributes to University of Utah basketball. It might be the warm lighting or the '80s tunes playing in the background.

Or it might be the fact that Ruby Tuesday is a genuinely welcoming place, with well-trained staff who buy into the restaurant's family-friendly concept. At least, that was our experience when we visited the Draper Ruby Tuesday on a recent weekend night.

In its niche — a place inhabited by restaurants like Chili's and TGI Friday's — Ruby Tuesday more than holds its own through attention to little things that make dining out fun.

Things like several different kinds of cheese grated over the kids' plates of macaroni-and-cheese. Steamed broccoli that arrives in one big "head" but is crisp-tender throughout. A hostess who notices the safety strap on a highchair is broken and quickly brings over another.

I was skeptical about Ruby Tuesday's appetizers when they arrived. The warm spinach and cheese dip was served with tortilla chips, which seemed an odd pairing, but it worked. The effect was that of eating mild, spinach-filled nachos.

We also tried the boneless buffalo wings. I didn't think Ruby Tuesday's breaded-chicken tenders would marry well with the spicy, greasy sauce that coats traditional wings, but the combination worked better than I'd supposed. These meaty white-chicken "wings" were much less messy than traditional ones, but with lots of spiciness — even in the mild version we tried. If you like the flavor of hot wings but aren't into the process of sucking fatty meat and skin off chicken bones, these are the appetizers for you.

Our 6-year-old declared her creamy mac-and-cheese "the best I've ever had," and it was quite decent. My husband and I went for more sophisticated fare, however. He ordered the Ruby Ribeye, while I opted for the New Orleans Seafood.

The ribeye, although cooked medium-well, was tender, juicy and flavorful. I don't usually hold with spice rubs or other embellishments on steak, but Ruby Tuesday's mix added nice flavor without overpowering the meat. The accompanying baked potato was fluffy and delicious.

My dinner started with a generous slab of broiled seasoned tilapia, a mild white fish with firm, moist flesh. It was topped with sauteed shrimp and Alfredo sauce. The fish was very good and well-cooked, and the shrimp were firm and sweet-savory.

Considering the spicy rub on the fish, I could have done without the slightly oily Alfredo sauce, but the rest of the plate was good. I got huge broccoli trees, a pile of slightly spicy breaded onion straws and a mound of steaming rice pilaf sprinkled with cheese and fresh tomato. The cheese was a bit much, as the pilaf was plenty flavorful on its own, but overall it was a good dinner.

Then we had dessert, and I almost forgot what we'd eaten before. We had the two varieties of Ruby Tuesday's "tallcake" — strawberry and chocolate. The strawberry tallcake featured alternating layers of truly airy sponge cake and firm, sweet strawberry mousse, with strawberry sauce, vanilla ice cream and whipped cream on top. The chocolate tallcake consisted of layers of chocolate cake and mousse, caramel and fudge sauces, ice cream and whipped cream.

Although we enjoyed both, I liked the strawberry best. The sweetness of the cake and mousse was balanced by the much tarter sauce, and the lashings of ice cream and whipped cream put me in shortcake heaven. It was like tasting the coming summer a few months early.

Appetizers $5.99-$9.99; soup and salad $3.99-$7.99; salad bar and combinations $6.99-$8.99; burgers and sandwiches $6.49-$8.49; entrees $7.99-$16.99; kids' meals $2.69-$4.49; desserts $3.99-$5.49.

Rating: ***

Where: 12147 S. Factory Outlet Drive, Draper

Hours: Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-midnight

Sunday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.

Phone: 572-1545

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Payment: No checks

Reservations: None taken


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

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