How many of us can say we know where our food comes from? How it’s made and how it’s transported to us? In our increasingly globalized world, more and more of our food is being sourced farther and father away and processed in a factory somewhere with who knows what type of chemicals to the point where we don’t even recognize it anymore. The freshness, taste is all but gone for the sake of cheaper products at greater yields.
The farm-to-table movement has become something of a rallying call for chefs around the country to bring the food back to the local community in a sustainable, natural way. In the 55 West building in the heart of the Church Street district, The Rusty Spoon is trying to bring that movement to the forefront here in Orlando, using locally sourced ingredients from local area farms like Deep Creek Ranch and Waterkist Farms in Winter Park.
The Rusty Spoon’s Owner/Chef Kathleen Blake, formerly of Primo, has been one of the fore-bearers of the Local “Slow Food” movement here in Orlando, as one of the first chefs to use local Ocoee farm Lake Meadow Natural’s for their tasty, natural eggs with orange-tinted, flavorful yolks. The restaurant also likes to change the menu and ingredients depending on what’s in season.
I had trouble spotting The Rusty Spoon at first – if I hadn’t been looking for it, I may have just walked on by to the Amway Center with nary a thought that there was a restaurant at the base of the 55 West Building. Maybe they should get a sign up to replace the banner at the front.
Self-described as a gastropub, there is a sizeable bar at the front of the house, though I did not feel most comfortable sitting there to eat and drink. There is a nice drink selection with craft beer, though not as extensive as some other places downtown.
In the dining area behind the bar, a menagerie of farm animal portraits watch over you as you dine, hanging on a brick wall. The decor is modern and the ambience is more like a city art gallery than a homey pub, though it was nice and open.
Inside The Rusty Spoon
Our waitress was fairly new but I wouldn’t have guessed it. She was attentive and knew the menu and recommendations like the back of her hand. The prices here were all very reasonable with most of the dishes under $20.
Stuffed Eggs – Lake Meadow Eggs Stuffed With olive tapenade, herbs & Oven Dried Tomatoes.
These deviled eggs were quite a delicious start to the meal, creamy and slightly salty with a nice tartness in the tomatoes.
This dish was dusted with powdered sugar like at the carnival fair. Though playful, definitely something I would expect from a regular ale-house rather than a gastropub. I enjoyed them nonetheless.
These fries were topped with some parmesan cheese, and though they were tasty, I did not find them to be memorable or distinguishable from most other fries.
Shiitinonion Soup – 5 Onions, Roasted Double Chicken Stock, Topped with croutons & Melted Gruyere. The “55″ Burger – 1/2 lb of Grass-Fed Beef Stuffed with Bacon & Gruyere, Smothered with Onions, Rusty Aioli, House-made Pickles on a Soft Roll
Shiitinonion SoupThe Rusty Spoon’s version of the French Onion soup, a very enjoyable, hearty soup that I wish did not have such a foul sounding name. The “55″ burger was a bit of a disappointment for me as I really enjoy burgers, but alas the patty was too soft and wet on this occasion, maybe it was undercooked but definitely too mushy of a burger for me.
This lamb sandwich was a favorite of the group, the lamb had almost like a pulled pork texture and the onions and ricotta all went very well together with the sandwich.
“Dirty South” – Stew Of Cape Canaveral head on Shrimp, Local Snapper, Cedar Creek Clams With Tomato & Peanuts In A Rich Shrimp Broth
The “Dirty South” was hands down the favorite dish here at The Rusty Spoon, signature local snapper from Cape Canaveral, shrimp head-on just the way I like it, delicious creamy southern grits all on top of a rich broth. I would go back to The Rusty Spoon again just for this one dish and would probably recommend it you go.
From The Rusty Spoon – Local Farmer Partners:
Palmetto Creek Pork – Avon Park Jim Wood uses the natural method of farming where his hogs are maintained outside in the fresh air. Jim raises small herds of the Heritage breed of Herefords hogs. They are kept outside everyday of their lives. No antibiotics or animal by-products are in his feed. Palmetto Creek’s goal is to not only provide us with natural pork but to provide us with the best possible natural pork through selective breeding. Check out Jim’s website- www.bestpork.us
Waterkist Farm, Winter Park is a family owned and operated farm using hydroponic growing methods. Melani and Roger’s produce is clean and delicious and includes heirloom and beefsteak tomatoes as well as several different varieties of living lettuces. Melani also grows our sprouts, peppers, Mediterranean cucumbers and herbs. Look for Melani at the Winter Park Farmer’s Market every Saturday.
Lake Meadow Naturals is home to a variety of Heritage breed of chickens and ducks that lay brown eggs in various shades. Dale Volkert’s happy hens are cage free, free range and free roaming. The hens have access to grass, sunshine and fresh air on Lake Meadow, right outside of Orlando. The chickens eat only wholesome grains that include corn, soybeans, wheat, millet, and various multi grains, oyster shells, and all the fresh well water they want. Lake Meadows offers soy-free eggs and duck eggs as well. Check out Dale’s happy hens- www.lakemeadownaturals.net
Deep Creek Ranch is home to David Strawn and his 100% grass fed beef. Grass fed is significantly healthier beef and is more beneficial as food than confinement beef. It also tastes delicious! Their diet is what nature designed them for and they stay healthy. The Strawn family never use growth hormones or any pharmaceuticals that persist in the animal. You can learn more about grass fed beef and the Deep Creek family- www.deepcreekranch.us