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.