The City: Houston
The Place: Ruggles Bakery
The Day: Friday
The Time: 12:30 - 5:30
The end of a hard week of work means a chance for me to catch up on some writing, stretch my legs and go for a minor bit of adventuring. By adventuring I, of course, mean eating, as finding a new place to dine is one of the simple pleasures I enjoy in life. A return to the area of Rice Village happened with some trepidation, considering the rather stodgy appeal of some of the locations I had visited. Today though, I was in for a treat.
Ruggles Bakery sits toward the tail end of the strip, a bit away from all the hustle and bustle. Its position may put it farther away from the busy street of Kirby, but it works well, if only because that means there's a decent parking space to be found. This might not be true throughout the entire day, but it's a welcome change of pace from the meager one or two spaces afforded at some of the other locations on this street. I swear, it makes one wonder how so many people can cram into this small space.
At any rate, by this time I've settled on Rice Village being the sort of coffe and wine version of Austin's 6th Street, a sort of walk-and-enjoy area where you can skip between coffee hourses and small cafes as opposed to bars. Ruggles, though, is a place you can go and settle in for the day. The first thing to note about the place was that, as opposed to a few other locations in the village, Ruggles is actually welcoming. A warm and simple wooden interior matches a quirky front banister that provides a personal touch. Instead of tables covered in table cloth, they're simple wooden affairs. No pretensions of wine cases deck their walls, but instead an open view of the kitchen gives you sight on the food being made.
The front display case shows off their talent with an assortment of baked goods, but my primary concern was lunch. At eight dollars, the Roast Beef Sandwhich sounded like a good deal. Paired to a two dollar Black Bean Soup and a dollar drink, and it all came out to about 13 dollars. Perhaps a bit high for lunch, but take away the soup and you've got something much more modest. Besides, for most people the sandwhich will do nicely all on its own.
I have to say, the Black Bean Soup is a bit underwhelming. It is, without question, soup. Textureless, save for some bits of tortilla chips and a dollop of sour cream, they could work a bit on its composition. Perhaps keeping a bit of the bean in the bean soup would serve to give some life to the dish. It's tasty enough, but nothing to write home about. A good Black Bean Soup can actually be hard to nail down, and I think Ruggles is a bit off in its execution.
However, the big draw was the sandwhich itself. Placed on an onion roll with rolling cuts of beef, doused in au jus, with a smattering of onions, it was a treat. Too much onion and the sandwhich risked being overwhelming, and samea goes for the juice. Several times it bordered just on the edge of enjoyable tolerance, but in the end it was pulled off quite nicely. Large portions, filling and tasty, I can't speak highly enough of it.
Perhaps I should have had some of the cofee at this cafe, but instead I contented myself with a brownie and chocolate cookie. I would suggest that, perhaps, the cookies be kept warm. Otherwise they sort of just sit on display, growing hard and less appealing, especially if you're eating toward the tail end of the day. However, the brownie was delicious, and moist, so no complaints.
The staff was courteous, happy and smiling, at least when I arrived there at noon. I can't say what their temperments were like once the larger dinner crowds started to flock to the bakery, but I felt quite welcome, not only by measure of the staff but by the overall design of Ruggles itself. It's a nice break from the stuffy attitudes and unfriendly service that seems to have fit into some other parts of the Village. Although some of the food was only average, their big hits, the sandwhich and brownie, were quite delicious. I can deal with a cup of bland soup, but nobody should ever botch Roast Beef.
An excellent place. Do yourself a favor, and make this the place you stop by when you're visiting the area.
The Final Call:
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