Photos, story by Sharon Kozden
Celebrating 35 years of all-American classics, Ruby’s Diner has introduced a new, aptly named 35th Anniversary Burger.
As a kid, a burger dine-out the Kozden way meant a meal comprised of single patty, small order of fries and an equally small-sized cola. No frills, no deviation from the spare. Little Sharon, a minimalist before her time.
My father had four hungry mouths to feed on a humble meter reader’s salary, which ensured that I lived for years in ignorance of the vast and varied manners in which foodstuffs could be prepared. Descendant on both sides from Anthracite coal miners (as far from to-the-manor-born as one can get), imagine my bugged-out eyes when I discovered such grub-stuffs as toppings, combinations (cheese atop the patty?!) and two-storied burgers with thickness degrees akin to a body fat index (BFI) of 30 or higher.
I arrived at Ruby’s Diner in Ardmore one evening with a goal to nix my habituated minimalist self and properly pig-out! I could not disappoint Ruby’s memory, after all. My friendly server seated me promptly and assisted with my burger selection. Commencing an intense carb-load, I chose as an appetizer the Zippity Zucchini. Living up to its menu description, the medallion-shaped slices were lightly breaded, golden-fried, dusted with parmesan cheese and served with a creamy Ranch dip. They have a winner here: don’t miss these.
Moving on to the ultimate carbohydrate-pairing, I went with the Super Burger–one of five in the 1/4 pound category. There are six regular-sized Classic Burgers and three others made with chicken and fish. Include the Anniversary Burger, and that amounts to a whopping 15 burger choices on the menu. The side of Cajun fries were crisp and perfectly seasoned.
When at Ruby’s Diner, there is no question in my mind about what to drink. Shake it, Baby! But which one, as with everything else on the menu, the options “come from the land of plenty.” Owner and President Jonathan Litt, who joined and regaled me with all manner of Ruby’s Diner historical facts and trivia, suggested the Oreo shake, a gorgeous blend of chunky cookie bits and thick, creamy vanilla. Someone got it right with the colossal straw; otherwise, the best part of the blend would be sunk like a treasure ship at ocean bottom. Since I’m fascinated by all things medical, I imagined the straw a stent that allowed a smoother passage of blood flow, which in this case were cookie pieces. Ironically, wasn’t this very meal going to incite an infarction?
Mind you, my doggie bag was heavily laden with either midnight snack or following day’s lunch. No way could I gorge this heavily and not fall asleep on the drive home, which is why rather than begging off dessert, I opted for takeaway. In the dessert category, I wasn’t the least bit indecisive, electing the all-American apple pie drizzled with warm caramel sauce. Scrumptious!
Taking a breather between the seemingly endless array of platters arriving at my booth, I visually absorbed the design and décor. Ambiance matters. It can’t all be about food. It occurred to me that this place could not have originated in anywhere other than the Golden State of California, which explains a lot. Mountainous burgers. An interior so bright, clean and sunny that, much like popular lyric, “it never rains in Southern California,” nor does it, metaphorically speaking, inside Ruby’s Diner. Cheerful as all get-out!
The preponderance of families is no coincidence. Just try to picture Woody Allen eating here on a swivel chair, no less. Not to generalize or judge a book by its cover; however, as I eyed the casually attired patrons, none seemed to be in the throes of an existential crisis or any manner of angst. It’s a shiny, happy place filled with “shiny, happy people.” As they say in Hollywood, “that’s a wrap” (pun intended!).