I LOVE to eat dinner out. I get a reprieve from cooking and all the mess that comes with it, plus I get to try new foods and flavor profiles and enjoy a cocktail I could not manage on my own. A good cocktail can get me out the door most days! Sadly, with a 7 person household and a small budget, we don’t get out as much as we would like. When we do manage, we look for decent prices, a menu that is interesting with foods that are appealing yet out of the norm, a place that is family friendly but also offers the ambience for a casual date, and some sort of entertainment. Let me tell you, there are few restaurants that offer all of these amenities.
However, I finally found my restaurant away from home.
The Rusty Bucket Restaurant and Tavern, with their new location at The Orchard Town Center in NE Westminster, meets all of my stringent standards and goes above and beyond with additional programs and incentives that will have me returning as a regular guest.
Before I expand on how awesome my taste buds felt during this visit, I think it is important to note the atmosphere. As soon as I step into any restaurant, I get a feel for what it is capable of, how I will be treated, how my children will be received, and what kind of experience I can find. In the warmer months The Rusty Bucket’s patio is lined with inviting flower boxes brimming with Baby’s Breath and other gems, and the patio itself is large enough to accommodate all party sizes and types. There are even mounted heaters and retractable, clear barriers for when cooler weather arrives but guests still prefer an outdoor feel. The indoor area is filled with cozy booths of all sizes, a large, horseshoe bar to invite conversation and relationships between patrons and associates, the dark wood walls are filled with pictures and memorabilia of local sports teams of all levels, and there is even a partition that can be drawn to give larger parties a sense of privacy while windows allow them to not feel ostracized from The Rusty Bucket family.
Before we even tasted the amazing cuisine, I was impressed by the amount of preparation and diligence this company puts into its creations. Everything in the kitchen is fresh and made from scratch daily (minus the fries, these are simply too delicious and they go through too many to prepare daily), including meats and fish that are hand cut by the chef and NEVER frozen. This commitment to freshness overlaps into the bar as well, where they believe in fresh, hand squeezed juices over jars of sticky sweet syrups and concentrates. The Rusty Bucket is also committed to responsible food sourcing, choosing farmers and fishermen that share their dedication to localism and quality products.
I began my meal with my personal favorite, alcohol. I chose the Grapefruit and Elderflower Margarita and let me tell you, it was mouthwatering. I watched the bartender personally squeeze grapefruits for my drink, giving me confidence in the ingredients and making me feel kind of special as well for her to go to so much trouble. This is how The Rusty Bucket functions, striving to make everyone feel special. I have never had a margarita with such a perfect balance of flavors. There was no heavy, thick aftertaste from a citrus mix. Rather, the drink was refreshing and light. It was everything I ever wanted in a margarita. Their other premium adult concoctions are not to be outdone, however. I would particularly recommend the Blueberry Bella, named for the founders daughter, and the Bourbon Raspberry Smash. I generally avoid all things bourbon, but this cocktail is on my list of must haves from now on.
Besides amazing, fresh squeezed cocktails, this location also offers 24 beers on tap including local brews and 5 taps that are switched seasonally. With such a fabulous array of beers, restaurants often lack a decent wine menu. Not so at The Rusty Bucket. They have just enough choices to entice wine lovers without overwhelming those of us with less sophisticated pallets. They also feature an amazing Happy Hour where you can receive $1 off all drinks and 1/2 off all appetizers from 3-6pm Monday-Friday. Believe me people, this is not a happy hour you will find often, take advantage of it ASAP!
I am always the last one to look at my own menu, as I have 5 tiny mouths that are louder and more desperate for food than me. Thus, I always search the kids menu first while also trying to entertain the kids with anything a restaurant can throw at me for support. The Rusty Bucket not only has the standard coloring page and crayons, they also provide lollipops and tattoos to give us moms enough moments of silence to order our own food.
The Rusty Bucket is also a verified member of the Kids Live Well Program which emphasizes lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy. In a time where childhood obesity is at an all time high, I very much approve of healthy options for our children, and appreciate that this restaurant has taken the time to point out which dishes on the children’s menu meet the stringent standards of this program.
I don’t know about the rest of the moms out there, but over the last few years it has come to feel that my children are not welcome in all restaurants. At The Rusty Bucket I get the feel that they are not only welcome, but that their presence is desired. This company has taken the time to make sure that children have everything they need to have a great dining experience. They even have an incentive program to encourage literacy in our little ones. Visit the restaurant and pick up their super cool “Bucketeer Bookkworms” bookmark and fill out the back with the books your child has read. For every five books they complete they get a FREE KIDS MEAL! They even have a suggested reading list on MyRustyBcuket.com! My children receive special treatment at this restaurant, and I will always be proud to bring them here.
Moving on to the items on the regular menu, I was so impressed with everything that I am not completely sure where to start. I suppose we will begin with appetizers as your meal would begin with those as well! The Rusty Bucket’s offers an array of appetizers , but I was particularly impressed by the Spinach Con Queso dip which was rich and creamy and perfect for sharing while shouting at their centralized big screen during football season. I was also pleasantly surprised by the Hummus. I am not usually a big fan of hummus, but I must admit that I hoarded this dish and wasn’t very good at sharing as it had the perfect amount seasoning and was tantalizing when paired with their marinated tomato and cucumber salad. My taste buds were inspired to always order this appetizer. I also highly recommend the Pork Pot Stickers and Deep-Fried Pickles. If you never thought a pickle could make your eyes roll into the back of your head, you need to try one of these PRONTO.
The entrees at The Rusty Bucket are another step towards heaven. Not only are they delicious and cater to many flavor profiles, but each item is completely affordable. They don’t make a burger that exceeds $11, including their premium concoctions like the Beer Cheese or Jalapeño Burger, and the prices don’t go up much from there. From the sushi-like Asian Tuna Wrap (I will be getting this the next time we go) to the Buffalo Chicken Sandwich and specialty, handmade pizzas. Perhaps my favorite dish, Gary’s 3 Way is also one of the most unique and representative of The Rusty Bucket’s Ohio heritage. Gary’s 3 Way is an unheard of combination of spaghetti, sirloin chili and cheddar cheese, garnished with sour cream, fresh diced tomatoes and paired with garlic cheese bread. It may sound a little strange but it is to die for! It is also the Monday Night Blue Plate Special, so you can indulge yourself for a steal. Be sure to come in and check out the other Blue Plate Specials, one is featured every night of the week. The Rusty Bucket also features daily drink specials such as Moscow Mule Monday and Whiskey Wednesday which features the founders’ specialty whiskey selection crafted from Woodford.
For those of you significant dietary needs dining out can be an intimidating experience. The Rusty Bucket has taken the fear out of letting a third party cook your food. Not only does the restaurant have a Gluten Free menu, but every precaution is taken with any dietary allergy or sensitivity. Special tickets are filled out for guests with dietary concern and there are no peanuts or by-products in the kitchen. The head chef is also more than happy to create any custom dish possible with the knowledge and ingredients on hand to meet any special requests.
For the love of everything holy, we cannot forget dessert! The sour cream chocolate cake is an exercise in decadence. Served in a warm crock bowl, topped with ice-cream and a caramel drizzle, you will not be disappointed. The Sticky Bun Break Pudding is not to be out done however. This dish, which at many other restaurants i have found to be soupy and syrupy, was nothing but perfection. It is worth stopping in to The Rusty Bucket all on its own.
All in all there are many restaurants out there that have good food and nice pictures on the walls. However, I will return to The Rusty Bucket as a regular customer because of the pride this company takes in it’s ingredients and the food they prepare with it. Not to mention that when I eat at here, my family will be consuming fresh, never frozen food for an unheard of value. Perhaps even more important is the feel of being a cozy, neighborhood restaurant that desires to make each guest feel like family and, likewise, for them to be included in our Colorado clan. Welcome to your “home away from home” dining experience.
The Rusty Bucket
14613 Orchard Pkwy
M-Th from 11am-10pm
F-S from 11am-12pm