Orlando's Teak Neighborhood Grill has spun off a sibling with RusTeak Restaurant & Wine Bar in Ocoee. Both eateries specialize in handcrafted flatbreads, pastas and burgers, as well as signature cocktails and craft beers.
The food at both locations is good, a sign that management is paying close attention to the brand. Menus are similar but not identical. However, service was a bit more polished at RusTeak.
Unlike Teak, where the bar dominates the space, RusTeak's bar is tucked away on one side of the upscale-casual restaurant. A corner entrance positions guests front and center with a hostess. The V-shaped dining area splits from there to the left and right. There is a comfortable mix of high tops and regular tables, some with banquette benches. The outside seating area is augmented by torch lights.
Chefs Danny Otero and Mike Antol oversee RusTeak's kitchen, which turns out a mix of standard pub and wine bar fare, interesting entrees, nicely composed salads, pastas, flatbreads and starters.
Start with the pan roasted mussels ($8.95), a shareable serving of plump shellfish seasoned with fresh garlic, white wine, diced tomatoes and fresh herbs. As with any good mussel dish, the extra attraction is the broth that accumulates in the bottom of the bowl. Here, the elements fused into a fabulous sopping sauce for the pesto-slathered focaccia bread. Served with lightly dressed salad greens, the dish could be a small entree.
The jumbo lump crab cake ($9.95) came with a smear of garlic aioli sauce to the side. Described on the menu as "spicy," it was more on the mild side and quite nicely balanced. The cake was meaty but not packed with as many of the firm pieces of the rich shellfish meat that crab-cake lovers covet.
The grilled strip steak ($19.95) was a perfect medium-rare. The tender beef was accompanied by sautéed mushrooms that had creamy notes of brandy and judicious hits of sea salt. Roasted asparagus and creamy, indulgent risotto completed the plate.
Lobster ravioli ($21.90) was an evening special. Tossed in a sweet sun-dried tomato sauce, the stuffed pasta pillows were comfort-food good. The only detraction was the sautéed spinach placed in the center of the plate. The greens lacked flavor and they were only partially wilted during the cooking.
The homemade carrot cake ($5.95), a menu special, was moist and grandma good. And I liked the light touch with the cream-cheese icing.
I expected similarities between RusTeak and Teak, but I would have liked a little more beef and chops on the newbie's menu given its name. (Yes, I know it's a play on "rustic," but you have to admit the word "steak" pops from the logo.)
Packed on both visits, RusTeak is clearly already a neighborhood favorite.
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RusTeak Restaurant & Wine Bar
Where: 1568 Maguire Road in Ocoee (near Old Winter Garden Road, in the spot formerly occupied by Tamboras Grill and Café)
When: 11:30 a.m.-midnight Monday-Saturday
How much: $8-$22
Beverages: Full bar
Wines by the glass: From $10
Extras: Outdoor seating, signature cocktails, family-friendly, vegetarian options, catering, table service
Noise level: Moderate dining buzz
Wheelchair access: Excellent
Credit: American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
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Diningon a budget
The flatbreads are filling and shareable. Check out the pulled pork flat or the turkey, pear and Boursin cheese flat ($9.95 each).Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun