While most of Northside’s eclectic cafes are located on Hamilton Avenue, there is one tucked away from the main thoroughfare in the old American Can manufacturing facility, Ruth’s Parkside Café.
My daughter and I decided to buck the Lenten fish fry trail for dinner Friday and find an alternate no meat option dinner. A quick vegetarian Yelp search brought us to Ruth’s Parkside Café, which serves not only vegetarian options but vegan as well for those that are a bit more hardcore. Carnivores should not fear as steak, hamburgers, deli sandwiches, fish, and pastas with meat also appear on the menu.
We arrived at the restaurant at 4:30 p.m. and were promptly—and pleasantly--greeted as soon as we entered the restaurant. In spite of the colorful and quirky artwork adorning the walls, the restaurant’s high-vaulted ceilings with exposed metal trusses, concrete floor, and the ceiling to floor windows, the atmosphere was less than inviting on this cold rainy day. The coldness dispersed a bit when our waiter, Eric, arrived. Charming is not an adjective that is often used today, but Eric was that along with a snap-snap attentiveness.
I was surprised to learn that as late in the afternoon as it was, the lunch menu was still available up until 5 p.m. This is a nice option because it allows people to order lighter, and cheaper, if so desired.
To start our meal off, my daughter and I ordered side salads consisting of a typical spring mix blend. The greens were fresh but the standout component was the house made yogurt and curry dressing recommended by Eric. I believe addicting was the word he used to describe it, and addicting it is.
My daughter ordered a red bean burrito for $7.25 and had tofu added for an additional $2. In addition to the beans and tofu, the burrito was stuffed with rice, lettuce, and shredded jack cheese, and served with typical store-bought tortilla chips on the side. The serving size was generous but a bit smaller than the overstuffed burritos one receives at Chipotle. My daughter commented that it was good, but not as good as Chipotle. In all fairness to Ruth’s Parkside Café, my daughter ordered her burrito without pico and sour cream, which are normally included in the burrito.
I opted for a fresh, homemade veggie burger served on a warmed brioche bun with bib lettuce, red onion, tomato, and a pickle spear for $7.25. My side choices were potato chips, pickled veggies, or slaw. I chose the chips but based on the flavor of their spicy pickle spear, I should have opted for the pickled veggies. The spiced pickle had just enough heat to wake up your taste buds without overpowering everything else eaten. The veggie burger and bun were grilled to perfection; however, the texture of the burger was unlike other veggie burgers I have eaten. Inside the patty’s crispy outside, was a warm, puréed mush. The overall flavor was okay but nothing that would prompt me to order it again. The flavor our entrees lacked was more than made up for by the homemade desserts.
My daughter ordered the “Red Velvet Chocolate Chip Gooey Butter Cake.” With a name like that, you can’t go wrong. I kept things simple by having a slice of peach pie.
The red velvet cake was so dense it might have been more aptly named a brownie. A generous portion of gooey butter iced the red velvet, and on top of the gooey butter, a chip-to-chip layer of bittersweet chocolate chips. Sweet and moist, and oh so good, the only thing needed was a glass of ice-cold milk.
My initial plan was to order a slice of raspberry pie, but being one who likes to follow the server’s recommendation, I went with Eric’s favorite, peach pie. The filling was generous with full-length slices of sweet meaty peach. What surprised me the most was the crust. Typically, I do not eat piecrust. I eat only the pie filling. This crust was different. The entire crust glistened with what appeared to be a baked-on sugar glaze. For the first time in my life, I devoured every last piece of crust associated with my slice of pie.
Overall, our dining experience was filling and pleasant. Our two entrees, two side salads, and two desserts totaled $35.95, excluding tip.
Would I return again? Possibly, if nothing else to have an entree salad with yogurt curry dressing and a slice of peach pie.