09 December 2007


dining date: 12.09.07
eatery: ruski's on danforth and clark
pricing category: cheap city
guest critic: captain ham-lette & hungover easy
overall grade: B

the lowdown:
- where else can you eat breakfast, play darts, and see people drinking miller high life before 11 am?

- very festive and well-decorated for this lovely holiday season.

- we were a little skeptical about eating breakfast in a dive bar, but the dim lighting, background hustle & bustle, and music made it feel very cozy.

- good, cheap beverages: $4.25 for a pint of bloody or a mimosa, and less than a buck for coffee and tea.

- the lieu was very cozy, homey, and didn't make you scared to get near the toilet seat.

the food

the benny girl
- veggie benedict with spinach & tomato, side of bacon, homies, bloody mary & tea
- grade: B

"i found out a few weeks ago that ruski's has benedicts on their menu, and i've been sort of nervous about today ever since. because obviously if there are benedicts on the menu, i need to order them…but i was definitely apprehensive to find out what kind of benedict i'd be served at a dive bar. what was placed in front of me was not as frightening as i had expected. i ordered the veggie benedict with a side of bacon, but was happy to see that their regular benny was served with "ham" – i give big props to places that don't serve canadian bacon. okay, so not that i was expecting zests and garnishes, but i have to say that the presentation of my food was really unappetizing. neither of my eggs were actually on an english muffin, there was a huge pool of hollandaise all over the plate, and large piles of soggy spinach buried my muffins. it was sort of a sloppy, thrown-together mess. fortunately, the food tasted a lot better than it looked. (and it looked infinitely better than my food at becky's did – i didn't throw up in my mouth at first glance this time.) i have to say though that i really wasn't a fan of the spinach – overcooked, frozen spinach is just not my thing for a plethora of reasons. but the tomatoes, hollandaise, and eggs made up for the wilty greens that i just ate around. the hollandaise didn't have a ton of flavor, but the consistency and was spot on and it definitely tasted good enough…sort of had an essence of gravy, for some reason, which made it quite nice for dipping the homies in. speaking of, the potatoes were okay. definitely needed salt, the texture was a little mealy, but they certainly weren't the worst in town. the bacon was very good – crispy, yet chewy with great flavah. oh, and i got quite a treat when i ordered my tea. despite the fact that captain ham-lette had her tea in a normal mug, the server brought mine in a glass one. how did the server at ruski's know that i LOVE drinking tea out of glass?! definitely the highlight of my morning. so yeah, overall a good experience and a lot better than you would expect from a dive bar. i would go back…even if just for the cheap bloodies."

the usual
- the "just enough"…a.k.a. the usual: 2 eggs, homefries & toast, coffee, and a bloody mary
- grade: B

"i have to say that i feel a little honored that ruski's decided that my favorite breakfast deserved a name of its own. 'the usual' really is 'just enough.' Anyway, having enjoyed alcoholic beverages at ruski's in the past, i couldn't pass up the chance to try the much-loved bloody marys. at $4.25 it was well worth the price and was the perfect compliment to the rest of my meal. the coffee was fine, though it took a few tries to get a refill. once my food arrived it took me a while to locate the measly pile of homefries tucked deviously underneath my toast. not a good sign for any fan of tasty taters in the morning. the homies themselves weren't good enough to warrant the minuscule portion. they weren't terrible though, which makes them pretty hard to write about as they had neither quality nor quantity on their side. my eggs were good. my toast on the other hand was not. yes, it's true that i do enjoy a little crispness in my breakfast breads. that being said, i also enjoy having plenty of butter to slather on to make up for the dryness. a situation involving burned toast and little to no butter is never satisfying. and that's exactly the situation i found myself in. despite having to power through dry, burned up toast and a couple of middle-of-the-road potato chunks, i would definitely go back. ruski's is that neighborhood bar where everyone dreams of belonging. the service is friendly and the food is decent, but the experience is perfect."

wild toast
- the "fill me up," consisting of eggs, hash, bacon, homies, rye, coffee, and blood
-grade: B/B-

"ru ru ru, shish boom bu, ish biblio-oh-en-do-en bobo-badi-adahin ruski ru! dribble on the festival of ruski's yallz, we finally did it! or should i say, benny girl finally decided we could. this fine establishment has been the bread and butter of my west end experience since my celebrity-swinger-couple had a baby named apple. so anyway, having heard tales of the miraculous bloody mary i had to try one. i must say it was a "q. bear" in the snow; a surprisingly punchy bevy. it didn't have the pizazz of a front room bloody but it grew on me. the atmosphere was surprisingly cheery for an alcohol blanched bar and the norah was as soothing as a cup of gypsy cold care. so i don't know how to go on. i'm a little blurry from the blood and a half and tired from saving a broken bird last night. my detox tea is comforting but that's not why i'm here. you, my trusty beloved fans, want to hear the facts, icy of hot. blood in coffee out friend. eggs are baller when their cooked. my huevos were all loosey-goosey on me, runny which I like but not when it's the whites that are splooging out on my homies. the toast, homies, and surprisingly hash were decent. ya know, it was basically what I expected. un-inspired but void filling. so anyway, i'd go again. not because it was a diamond in the rough, but because it was necessary. men with schlitz that put my coffee to shame, tough love."

captain ham-lette
- the "rise and shine"…two eggs, ham, homefries, toast, tea
- grade: B-

"so the last of my nine homefries wasn't exactly cooked enough and crunched a bit between my teeth. yes, i said, nine homefries. i counted. my wheat toast was burnt, and i traded one with the usual because the usual likes burnt toast. go figure. i was able to choose from a caddy of four jellies: orange marmalade, concord grape, strawberry and mixed fruit. it helped the toast go down. i ordered my eggs over medium, but i'd say they were about 30 seconds from that. still, that was fine, i like the yolk runny sometimes. the ham was a nice big slab, and i do like to slather a little maple syrup on it when the rest of my meal is finished….and the syrup, was, how shall i say, watery. glad i didn't order pancakes. i generally thought the food was good enough for a random sunday with friends. i wouldn't bring my mother here, but my sister, sure. i'd been in the joint before, for a few bud lights n such, but this was my first foray into its brekky menu. overall I'd say the experience was fine. nothing fancy. nothing was horrible. just fine. the prices made up for the mediocrity. total i owed $5.95 plus tax and tip. i left $9. lyle lovett and the old crow medicine show played in the background. the crowd was neighborhoody which i dig. it was cozy and low key – felt like a place they might have a lonely man walk by in a movie when he's feeling sad and down and looking inside at the warm and fuzzy lighting at people laughing and clinking glasses."

hungover easy
- the "hangover special": 2 eggs, hash, homies & toast, coffee, and water
- grade: B-

"slightly hungover on this sunday morning, i was really looking forward to hitting up ruski's with TBC. after moving out of the west end several years ago, being back in the hood gave me a good feeling inside. as the first one to arrive at a bar i've frequented many a times for dart playing and brewskies, i was surprised when i walked in and all the tables were taken. the clientele was mixed, young and old. i pulled up a seat at the bar and ordered a water. the dim lighting and joyous christmas decorations were comforting. after a few minutes a table opened. while waiting (nearly a half and hour! thanks to benny "princess," i'm told and believe) i took in my surroundings. loved the slew of 30 something men in the corner drinking miller high life and the man on the phone in front of me confessed his hangover this morning to the person on the other end. he was obviously feeling better since in front of him sat a half-full bud light or maybe that was his cure this morning. slowly the group began to arrive and the coffee, tea and bloody mary's began to flow. after looking over the menu, the hangover special was calling my name (for obvious reasons.) but i was feeling skeptical about the hash-never had it before "do i even like hash?" i asked myself. i went for it anyway. while waiting for the food, i drank several cups of coffee-which i deemed decent, strong enough and not watery. both the large cup of water and coffee, and of course friends and laughter were excellent hangover cures. but the hash-yes-the hash- was my cure all this morning and the best part of my meal: salty and filling. the rest of my breky, not so good. my eggs were over easy-just as i ordered them-but were lukewarm at best and by the time i got to the second one it was totally cold. i'm not really a big fan of homies so the fact that there were only 6 on my plate didn't bother me too much. but the one i did eat was undercooked and pretty flavorless. the yolk from my eggs made my toast bearable. brown on one side and burnt on the other, it was very dry and dipping (my favorite part of breakfast) really didn't help. so why a B- you ask? this is ruski's after all, an establishment that is primarily meant for drinking beer and gathering with friends-and besides the hash, that was the best part of this experience."