Every new restaurant faces obstacles to open, but The Rustic had an extra challenge that many don't. Owners Pat Green (country singer who likes Texas), Kyle Noonan and Josh Sepkowitz (Bowl and Barrel, Mutt's) started planning with empty lot. The restaurant had to be built from the ground up, before work on the kitchen and dining could start.
They moved along pretty quickly, though. The Rustic was announced back and January, and they'll be opening their doors in under two weeks. And since country music stars don't do things like your typical restaurateur might, they're opening by throwing a three-day party that promises to absolutely destroy your following Monday.
The food is certainly adventurous. Calf fries are on the menu with a description that simply says "if you have to ask ..." Just so you don't have to ask -- they're balls. Rocky mountain oysters. Calf testicles.
Wild boar meatballs (the safe kind), smoked catfish dip and that burger pictured above look good, and a wood-fired grill promises steak, shrimp, ribs quail and more. There's also a number of pies available by the slice for dessert.
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A few weeks ago in Dish, I took a look at two bars that had attempted to upgrade their bar food with mixed results. The Rustic's executive chef Matt Balke, however, has a decent chance of pulling it off. Balke spent time spent at since closed York Street and most recently Bolsa -- two restaurants known for thoughtful execution and good food. But his biggest challenge at his latest post will likely be volume. Seating capacity inside the restaurant totals 250, while outdoor seating tacks on another 300.
Cooking steaks on an open flame consistently for 550 people? That could be as challenging as selling calf fries to Uptown.
The Rustic, 3656 Howell Street, therusticrestaurant.com, 214-730-0956