My last trip to The Ruck in Troy was over a year ago, and things have recently changed there. The most drastic change has been the addition of Chef Rachel Mabb to the kitchen staff as the head chef. In the time that she’s been there, she has overhauled and expanded the menu beyond classic bar fare.
For a number of months, I’ve been following Chef Rachel’s facebook pictures of the “Bitchin’ Kitchen” (not to be confused with Bitchin’ Kitchen) brunch specials she has on the weekend. Needless to say, I’ve been wanting to get back to The Ruck to taste the food again for a while now. And, as luck would have it, all it took was the spin of a wheel, and The Ruck became the venue for the celebration of the start of the 5th year of the derryX blog.
We arrived just at noon, and there were a handful of people at the bar. I moseyed to the back to say hello to Chef Rachel and to look over the menu.
Between 11am and 2pm on Saturdays, basically, everything on any menu is fair game. That made it pretty difficult to decide, since there are quite a few interesting looking things on the regular menu. On my mind were the “huevos racheros” (2 eggs fried with Corn tortilla, red pepper pico de gallo, crumbled ricotta salata & sausage, house refried black beans), the Napa Cowboy burger (Fried Egg, Spinach, Fresh Guacamole, Roast Red Pepper & Chipotle Mayo), and the Nacho Tots (smothered with chili, cheese sauce, jalapenos, onion, and olives with salsa and sour cream). It was pretty much a given that I was also getting wings.
Regardless of what I was eating, one beer caught my eye. The Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro ($5 for a pint) was just the type of beer I love, and, for me, that would go with whatever food I wanted. I’ve talked about beers from a Nitro tap before, and it’s one of my favorite delivery systems for a good, heavy beer.
And while I decided what to eat, we took over the front of the place.
Ultimately, I decided that I wanted brunch for sure, so I went with the Huevos “Racheros” ($11), some hot wings ($9), and a small order of fries ($2).
The one thing that I always fear when ordering a dish that has so many individual components piled upon each other is that the bites will become muddled. That wasn’t at all the case with this rendition of the dish. The flavors were individually clean, and came together in each bite. Likewise with the textures. There were lots of soft and wet elements stressing the toasted tortilla, but none were able to fully penetrate the tortilla, and, even the last bite had the snap you want when you’re eating tortillas.
There were two pieces of the dish that were particularly outstanding. First, the pico de gallo. When you’re topping a tortilla with beans, eggs, sausage, and cheese, you need something there to cut the heaviness. This pico did just that, and it also brought more flavor in the form of cilantro and onions and the watery burst of fresh vegetables. Second the cheese. So it would be pretty easy to get a hold of some mild, creamy queso fresco (usually made from cow milk). In fact, that would be what the dish calls for. By switching it up to ricotta salata, a saltier, firmer, and slightly more pungent cheese, another layer of complexity is thrust upon the dish. It’s a cheese that’s really just alright on its own, but with the bold sausage and beans, it was really able to shine.
This is the perfect type of food to have for breakfast on a weekend, especially with a cocktail.
I’m not going to spend a whole lot on the wings, since they were similar to the first trip. I will say that they were executed slightly better as far as the amount of sauce and the extent to which they were crisped up, but that could be because there were far less people in the place ordering food on this visit. The fresh fries were a pretty great addition to the meal. Hell no, I didn’t need them, but sometimes you just want some fries with your wings.
After things slowed down in the kitchen for Chef Rachel, she and I chatted, and she showed me some of the spaces they’ve fixed up upstairs to host various events like beer dinners and other social events. Pretty cool stuff.
Before I forget, MetalFrog ordered the tots I was going to.
I was pretty stuffed, so I didn’t sit there and beg him to take a bite with puppy dog eyes. Maybe he’ll chime in with his impressions. They did look pretty damn awesome to me, though.
So the list keeps getting longer at The Ruck. Amazing beer list. Great wings. And now, killer brunch.
Seriously, if you’re looking for a late breakfast on a Saturday, The Ruck fits the bill.