Sadly, Rusty Spoon isn’t in Tampa. Because it’s pretty darn good.

August 20, 2011

Yep. Another non-Tampa post. Our neighboring city of Orlando has a great food culture though, and as a former resident I really enjoy visiting my friends out there because I get to see how the scene has grown since I left (and it’s growing pretty fast too). Rusty Spoon is a newish farm-to-table gastropub in Downtown Orlando, bordering Church Street on the first floor of the 55 West condo building. Attractive and contemporary decor, but not flashy or over the top- very inviting and comfortable. A primarily glass exterior brings a good amount of natural light into the room, and on this particular Saturday they were fortunately not very busy at lunch so I nabbed a seat at the bar and begin perusing their (well above average) beer & wine selection. The bartender was a knowledgeable and entertaining young lady, and we chatted about craft beer while I had a draft Jai Alai IPA (from Tampa’s own Cigar City Brewing) and waited for my friends to arrive. Our first dish was the Charred Squid and Octopus, which was kind of a salad, and came with Romano beans, arugula, onions, and a spicy vinaigrette. Sadly that picture was blurry so you won’t get to see it (apologies), but it was a bit tart, smokey, and dynamic, with good contrast of crunchy textures between the beans, octopus, and squid. I dig. Next up we got the Stuffed Eggs (that first picture up top) and the Rusty O-Rings. The stuffed eggs were good- the herbs and sun dried tomato were nice touches, although I thought the olive tapenade was just a bit saltier than I’d have liked it to be. The onion rings were bloody fantastic though, perfect crunchy crust with a tangy stout-vinegar dipping sauce. They had just the right amount of salt, and just enough herb content in the batter that they had an amazing aroma. I would order those again in a heartbeat, and I’m typically not big on fried stuff. That’s a pretty mean lamb sandwich right there. Tender pulled lamb meat, creamy ricotta, caramelized onions, golden raisins (an awesome touch), and a side of their “Shitinonion Soup” (yes you read that correctly) which had count ‘em 5 different onions, and should catch the attention of any onion soup lover. My buddy’s Pork Town Club was good, but I was curious why he got it with so much other awesome stuff on the menu. Oh well, at least I got to steal a bite. Excellent job cooking the pasta boys. I don’t frequently eat pasta, but this was superbly al dente, with a terrific, almost uneven texture to it that made the noodles taste house-made (I didn’t confirm that but I’m willing to bet they were) and compliment the perfectly cooked shrimp, clams, and broccoli in the dish. Bravo. No, I didn’t have room for desert, but look at those things! How the hell do you not order those?? House made doughnuts filled with house house made strawberry jam. Oh man they were good, and fortunately three of them, three of us, game on. Good job Rusty Spoon, now please come open a location in Tampa. I mean seriously, why can’t chain restaurants be like this? A simple recipe- great food that is locally sourced, NOT trucked in, with meat that is free-range hormone/antibiotic free, a creative & changing menu, good beer, and a fun atmosphere. I’m happy that Floridians are finally starting to out-grow crappy chains like Applebees & Chilis, my only wish is that we could out-grow them a bit faster. http://www.therustyspoon.com

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