It’s been many years since I visited the Rib Room. I remember the place as very dark and dingy. But that look is long gone, replaced with a dining room and bar that’s well lit, has sleek lines and is very clean and inviting. Large historic black-and-white images of downtown run around the the perimeter. Dean Martin serenaded us while we perused the menu.
First opened in 1957, The Rib Room operated for 58 years until it was closed in October 2015. The restaurant reopened last March for dinner and recently opened for lunch.
Rib Room fans will be happy that longtime favorites are still on the menu, like Nick’s Original Ribs and the calypso salad.
I highly recommend the mushroom au gratin appetizer. This is a dish you will want to share with a few people. The creamy, hot, rich dip was topped with sliced green onions and fine bread crumbs. The platter was surrounded by toast points. (Be sure to ask for more if you run out.) The comments at our table about this appetizer were “a mushroom in every spoonful” and “nothing to complain about that.” I love it; it gets an A+.
The lobster bisque is a good soup choice. The thick consistency and flavor tasted more like butternut squash than lobster. My friend would have preferred bigger chunks of lobster instead of it being pureed.
I ordered a plate of three different types of sliders. I picked the patty melt, pulled pork with creamy slaw and chicken philly. My top pick was the chicken Philly – the cutlet was juicy and delicious and smothered with melted Swiss cheese. The grilled green pepper and onions gave the sandwich good texture and flavor.
The patty melt was my second choice. The pulled pork flavors were good, but the sandwich was too salty. I really liked that I could pick three different sliders for lunch instead of all of them being the same.
One of my lunch buddies picked Nick’s Original Signature ribs. I prefer ribs that aren’t drowning in barbecue sauce, and The Rib Room’s ribs were not. They were moist, juicy and meaty. The portion size was good; in other words, you don’t feel miserable from eating too many.
Another friend chose the “build your own burger” option. Unfortunately, there were so many toppings – grilled onions and green peppers, cheese, lettuce, mayonnaise – that he couldn’t get much of a burger taste. The brioche bun was good.
When I hear from a server that “the desserts are house made,” I am immediately interested. The Rib Room’s flourless chocolate torte was calling my name.
The torte was chocolate heaven. With each bite, I was thinking about how much harder I was going to have to workout to burn off the calories. That torte was heavy, topped with a creamy amaretto glaze, and had a lot of whipped cream, crunchy sliced almonds and drizzled chocolate sauce. The fresh mint and maraschino cherry garnish made this dessert look extra special, too. This one definitely goes in my personal Dessert Hall of Fame.
My other friends split the chef’s choice cheesecake: peppermint. It was as good as the torte. This festive offering had a good tangy cheese flavor, which was brought out more by the thick ribbons of chocolate on top. The perfect amount of peppermint was used. Too much of that extract and a dessert can taste like cough syrup. (I can tell you from my own baking experience: Less is more.)
I really enjoyed my meal. It was a great way to kick off another year of restaurant reviews. If you haven’t visited The Rib Room for awhile, you’ll be glad you stopped in.
This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Laura Weston-Elchert at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call her at 461-8468.
The Rib Room
Where: 1235 E. State Blvd.
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday; 4 p.m.-11 p.m. Saturday; Closed Sunday
* Mushroom au gratin: $7
* Shrimp cocktail: $14
* Steakhouse bisque: cup $3.50; bowl $5.50
* Calypso salad: $7.75 entree portion
* Rib Room spinach salad: $8.50 entree portion
* Gourmet grilled cheese: $6.50
* Carolina style pulled pork sandwich: $8
* Nick’s Original ribs baskets: $15 half rack
* Beignets: $4.50
* Flourless chocolate torte: $6