Rustik Tavern

Rustik Tavern

471 DeKalb Avenue

Brooklyn, NY 11205

I needed a place to eat that was close by but I wanted someplace new too. I didn’t want it to be too fancy either. I just wanted a nice, chill, relaxing place to grab a beer and some decent food. I saw a review of Rustik over on Clinton Hill Foodie which seem to fit the bill perfectly. (yeah, I’ve been slacking and they got to it before me) After checking out Rustik’s very slick website and menu online I decided to give it a shot. I’m so glad I did.

The first thing I noticed was how…out of place Rustik seemed to be in where it’s located. It’s like bodega, bodega, take out, take out, bodega, Rustik.

Well at least you won’t miss it walking by.

I was impressed with Rustik’s interior decor. High ceilings and lots of lights, but not overly bright, gave it a very warm and inviting feeling and with that big sofa up front – definitely a place to chill.

First order of business: a beer. Rustik has a very decent selection of tap and bottled beers. (All of which is listed on their website.) I went with the Blue Moon which they had on tap – always an excellent choice.

Second order of business: FOOD.

Every item was named after something local or of significance. For example, the Willoughby Wings for Willoughby Avenue. It’s kind of silly but nice at the same time. Adds a very “neighborhood” feel to it.

Prices were extremely reasonable. Lots of items under $10 and nothing over $15.

We decided on the following:

The Nostrand Nachos with the olives and the jalapenos on the side.

As a stand alone dish it’s eh. I like the fact that it’s cheese sauce rather than real cheese, real cheese has a tendency to clump up and get chewy as it cools, but other than that it was lacking something that made it great. Like…

The Clinton Hill Chili.

Now I know you can add the chili on top of the nachos for $2 but go with a whole order of chili along with the nachos and use the nachos to scoop up all that chili goodness.

The chili, by itself, is still was very good and, while still full of flavor, it was relatively tame and lacked heat and spiciness.

Mixing it with the nachos is really the way to go. It takes two “okay” dishes to 11.

We moved on to a small order of the Willoughby Wings with BBQ sauce. (That’s where my olives and jalapenos went!)

I want to point out that these wings are breaded. Normally I hate breaded wings but these I didn’t mind. It worked well with the BBQ sauce, giving the sauce something to stick to, as well as adding a bit of crispiness to the chicken.

What surprised me about this dish was that the BBQ sauce was actually spicy and had some heat to it. The heat was unexpected, I had to double check to make sure it was the wings and not the chili, but not overwhelming. It actually worked very well together as a sweet and spicy combination.

Finally, the Franklin Fish and Chips.

This was pretty good. The fish was lightly breaded, not battered, which kept the whole dish relatively “light”. The fish was done well and was flaky and moist. The chips on the other hand…eh.

The chips were too big in size and I think that kept them from getting really crispy. The chips also had some old bay seasoning or something on them which was too over powering for the lighter tasting fish. I like the fish…the chips need work.

We wanted to try the Chambord Creme Brulee but they were out of it. (Doesn’t it sound good though? Chambord Creme Brulee? Mmmm…)

Overall, it’s a great place and I’m definitely going to be back. It’s got a nice mellow vibe, serves good food and has good drinks. All at a very reasonable price. The entire meal was about $40. It’s like the perfect little local neighborhood spot.

The service was good with the bartender being attentive without “hovering”. (And he didn’t once ask me if I spoke english! That’s a plus right there!)

The one complaint I do have is the TV. There’s a pretty big TV right in the middle of the room and when there’s a TV on you’re sort…of…forced…to…watch…it. I would have like it a lot better if it was off and a good selection of music was playing instead. (They have a very nice sound system.) The TV just seemed out of place and sort of broke up that “chill” feeling if you know what I mean.

Other than that it’s a great place and a very welcome addition to the neighborhood.

Oh, and if you’re lucky you’ll catch a free show.

We were treated to piano renditions of Keane and Coldplay. Very very cool.

29 thoughts on “Rustik Tavern

  1. CHF Brian

    We love the place and have been back a couple of times since my first write up. I agree with you on the nachoes – defintiely the lowpoint on the menu so far for us. The chili is very good, as you say, and we also really like the wings and the butcherboy burgers, which are turkey meat sliders mixed with blue cheese with sauteed onions and a tomato. Very good and pretty cheap. Last time we there, Mick tried the mushroom “burger” and really, really liked it.

    The owner, Frantz, is very open to suggestions, so if you catch him in there, make sure and say hi.

  2. tinarina

    Greasy junk food and a blaring TV–but other than that “it’s a great place.” I’d hate to know what’s on your sh*t list.

    Sorry, but it looks just awful.

  3. Macaca

    Those photos make the food look inedible. You may say the food might be good, great even. However, the pics do not help this joint whatsoever. If I was Frantz, I would be pissed.

  4. Chloe

    Why do so many of the comments on this blog tend towards the complaining or snarky?

    Comments on this particular review are NOT as bad as I have read on other topics covered by the blog but …….

    RUSTIK was reviewed on 2 other blogs this week (possibly more) but neither of those blogs had even 1 negative or snarky comment~ yes, I realize the most negative commnets are regarding the quality of the photo’s

    But what gives with so much general negativity?

  5. Stan

    The photos look fine, and they have Speckled Hen, which is a BIG plus. I didn’t know about this place and will check it out this weekend. Thanks for pointing it out CHB.

  6. Matt D

    From the looks of it, the food down the block at Sputnik is both healthier and more appetizing. Need to check out the booze and beer selection at Rustik though.

  7. giddy

    maybe i am just hungry but the photos actually looked pretty good. if a yummy beer and greasy nachos or chili aren’t your cup of tea, then go get sushi and a diet coke and call it a day.

  8. Brooklyn Jay

    Wow. Tough crowd. I think the food pics “look bad” cause I had to use a flash on them. Flash photos rarely make anything look good. It really isn’t all the unappetizing looking in person. If you look at the pics on the other sites the food looks much better.

    I don’t think I said that anything was greasy and I actually think they are trying to offer a healthier selection, using turkey instead of beef for example..

    And it’s just my experience and opinion of the place. I think it’s worth the trip to go and check it out for yourself. At least you’ll give new businesses in our nabe your support.

  9. Jess

    I went there the other day after hearing alot of hype. I had the chicken and waffles for brunch and that consisted of 4 greasy, flavorless wings and one soggy waffle cut up into 4 pieces with a few slices of strawberry and some maple syrup on it. I was not impressed.

    I really want to like this place but there are some flaws. It’s nice inside and the outdoor area could be a great place for drinks in the warm weather. I do think that their prices across the board are pretty high for a bar in that area. $7 for a well drink? Why is this place that’s across the street from the PJs and on bodega row going to be more expensive than a Fort Greene or Clinton Hill bar? Hell, $7 for a well drink is a Manhattan drink price.

    And cheese sauce? That’s gross.

  10. Brien Foy aka brewPez

    I’ll save $2 on my burgers ($8.00 for lunch or dinner)and go to Mullane’s on Lafayette & S.Elliot. I think their food is Really good.
    Brooklyn Jay first says about nachos,”As a stand alone dish it’s eh.” then,”It takes two “okay” dishes to 11.” Yet concludes,”Overall, it’s a great place and I’m definitely going to be back.” Sounds like a mixed review to me.

  11. litte

    I agree with you, Brien Foy. This review seems a bit confusing, but I think its bc BrooklynJay tries to support it and encourage pp to give Rustik a try. I will stop by Chez Lola in to have a salmon burger (one of the best thing in our neighb’s)in an hour and then walk over to Rustik for a beer to check it out. I have to go there with a full stomach in case the food is really like on the photos.

  12. litte

    by they way Lola’s well drinks are $6 and the woman bartender/mngr has a heavy pour. god bless her for it.
    i dont agree with well drinks over 5 or 6… its a ripoff! how much is stoli/sauza/jack/tanquerey then?!

  13. clermont

    I think the bar is great, as a bar. The food was not good at all, when I went. The nachos were really terrible, with just some tomatoes and runny fake cheese stuff. My friend has the very forgettable fish and chips, also..

    The bar is fun and a good place to get a drink, but I wouldnt go for food.

  14. kyle

    The reviews on this site would be better if the authors were less afraid to actually criticize. We are all glad to have new businesses but they aren’t going to last if they don’t offer good food or service. Cheese sauce? I wonder if this place also has the extra delicious olive oil featured in the previous review.

  15. tinarina

    Totally agree, Kyle. As someone who’s lived in Clinton Hill for more than a few years, I remember all too well when there were very few restaurants and services. Now we have quite a selection, but many businesses are subpar. Too often, I get branded as a “whiner” or a “hater” because I want quality. I’ve been a longtime booster of the area, but I don’t think that means I have to like EVERYTHING.

  16. houseowax

    I get that too, tinarina. I get called a ‘hater’ often but it means little to me because my standards are by no means impossibly high. I won’t patronize a subpar (and often overpriced) restaurant simply because it’s in the neighborhood. What’s wrong with expecting quality food at decent prices and regular hours of operation? They seem to be able to pull this off across the river all the time…

  17. la duchessa

    I have been to the Rustik a few times now. It’s a great bar. I did eat there recently and while the food didn’t necessarily wow me I’ll still go for the drinks and vibe. It’s a bar/restaurant and, unfortunately, that doesn’t always work for everyone. Perhaps Franz can take some of these criticisms to heart and improve if need be.

    Regarding honest reviews and standards: I like to think that restaurants, especially newly-opened ones, can benefit from constructive criticism and reviews that specifically call attentions to areas that fall short of succeeding. I have lived in the Fort Green, Clinton Hill, and Bed-Suy areas for a combined 9 years and spotty service, poorly-run restaurants, and varying degrees of quality when it comes to food have always been the norm. It’s always been an issue to me. Like why should we expect sub-standard service or food simply because the restaurant is local? Honest reviews and holding places to a certain standard should be a normal and productive thing because it fosters a world of better options and great dining in our area. We deserve it and we’re certainly willing and able to pay for it.

    Anyway, the Rustik is new and all new bars and restaurants can take some time to find their groove. Let’s keep it positive and encourage it to stick around because god knows we need a nice bar in these parts!

  18. Kim W.

    It seems like the bar part is great; decent selection, easygoing vibe. The fact that they actually had more than one kind of cider (I don’t drink beer) was a bonus for me. The bartender was even friendly enough to politely inquire about what my SO and I were intensely discussing and we got into a great conversation about lab work and statistics.

    The food, though, needs work. The nachos were really mediocre, even if you take into account my personal prejudice against cheese sauce. They actually were a little lukewarm when brought out to us, even.

    On the whole, decent place, but the kitchen just needs a lot of work.

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