Rusty Dog

Rusty Dog Irish Pub

(260) 579-0433

N. Jefferson St. 

Huntington, IN 46750

After having my MIL say good things about this eatery followed by Allen L saying "We should go there I hear it's good" - bam, the 3 Elles moved it to the top of our list!  Unfortunately, Adams L was unable to join us (missed you, girl!).


It was dark and raining when I approached the well lit corner bar - from the street it looked exactly like Murphy's Irish Pub in Old Town Alexandria.  The outside featured many charming accents including the Irish Flag, a iron sculpture of a dog (hence, the Rusty Dog), and an animatronic santa leprechaun.

Sorry it's blurry - it was raining and it was animated!
I entered the bar side only to be greeted with this sign on the door . . .
Yes, in 2012 when everyone has a smart phone, the policy of this establishment is "No cell phone use!"
I was a bit taken back with the no cell phone sign especially since I was meeting the other Elles and none of us had been there before - there was texting and possibly calling that needed to happen in order to discuss parking and the fact that I had opted to sit in the family dining room rather than the bar.

The family room, which had opened this past Fall, was quaint and relaxing.  It was highly embellished with it's many pictures of dogs and pub accessories.  The working fireplace was a perfect compliment to the cold and damp weather. 
When starting off an Elles outing, first off is a review of the martini menu.  We lucked out - on this night, Martinis were on special - $5 WOO!  Allen L opted for an Irish Creamtini.  It was everything she loves including Irish Cream, Vanilla, and Butterscotch.  She described it as creamy and light but packed a powerful flavor punch.  Immediately following every sip she said, "Oh that's good!"  I selected a Banana Cream Pie Martini.  It was frothy and light . . . wait for it . . . YUMMY!  Both of our beverages came ungarnished - kind of a bummer.  The garnish just puts a drink into the next stratosphere!  After dinner we met the bartender who created these unique thirst quenchers. 

The bar is a perfect fit to this Irish Pub!
The pub takes pride in bringing unexpected touches to the eating experience - such as the customized glasses . .. and look at that mint container (it's a dog food bowl -clever!)

After taking in all that surrounded us, we were ready to order.  Both of us ordered Guiness Cheddar Potato Soup - how much more Irish can you get?!?!  This was heavy on the Guiness and the Cheddar but a bit shy on the potato.  It was thick and creamy and provided an excellent buffer from the winter blahs the miserable weather outdoors was causing.  The muti-layered flavors ranged from an unidentifiable sweetness to a beer bite.  It was unique and worth trying.  Allen L had hers as a starter and that was probably a better option.  I had mine at the end of my meal and was displeased with the bad after taste left (I'm sure it was the Guiness so if you like beer this will be an non-issue for you). 

We were disappointed that a restaurant as unique as the Rusty Dog wants to be, didn't provide any homemade rye bread croutons or other garnish for the soup - nope, pre-packaged oyster crackers - BORING!
I started with a Pub Salad.  It was served with WAY TOO MUCH Red Pepper Vinegrette.  I asked the server to have the chef prepare everything as healthfully as possible . . .wrongfully assumed this would include getting the dressing on the side.  It was exceptional and I would get it again, but was disappointing to have ordered it with Gargonzola cheese( for an added cost), but was told by our server that she thought they were out.  I think the cheese would have completely made this salad all the better. 

Allen L ordered Fish & Chips.  She, like me, LOVES this entree at Paula's (see that review HERE).  We often have that on our brain when we order the same dish at other restaurants expecting it to be at least equal to the awesomeness served on Main Street.  With great hopes for authentic Irish Fish & Chips (with the chips being swapped out for a side of grilled Zucchini), this plate of disappointment arrived. 
To start - look how small it is - and 3 thin slices of zucchini is a considered a side?  Wow - that's more like a garnish if you ask us!  Despite the petite nature of the portion, Allen L took her first optimistic bite . . . breading was all that her tongue detected.  The thick, but thankfully not greasy, breading was overbearing and resulted in an inability to detect any fish flavor or texture.  Now you will notice a mountain high piling of what is possibly THE BEST cole slaw EVER!  That was definitely the highlight to this plate.  Frequent readers know I'm not a lover of the 'slaw, but this Bacon Cole Slaw was  It was incredible.  It was thick and rich and gave me a mouth full of BAM!  In fact, I remarked that it was the most "non-cole slaw tasting slaw" I've ever eaten.  YES - this side alone is worth the drive to Huntington!  The Bacon Cole Slaw kept this entree selection from being a complete flop. 
As part of my New Year's resolution to "healthify" my diet - I had very little problem finding something healthful on the menu.  The sandwich section of the menu lists about a dozen types of toppings you can add to either a chicken breast, a hamburger, or a portabella 'shroom.  I selected the Italian Greyhound on a portabella without the bun (which I had heard the Onion buns were to die for).  Although it wasn't a lot of food, especially compared to common American eateries, it was just filling enough and more importantly, tasted amazing.  Healthy meets yummy with this entree.  The Red Pepper Pesto added a 5 alarm fire to the dish adding a memorable zip!  My "sandwich" was accompanied with lettuce, pickles, and red onions.  My 'shroom was topped with Provolone and grilled zucchini.  If you're looking for a healthy meal out - this is an excellent choice.  It's tasty and unique and will surely please any vegetarian or healthy eater. 

 We concluded our experience with a Turtle Torte - should have skipped it.  Again, a lost opportunity to dazzle the customer.  This final course was not made in- house and really didn't reflect the Irish flare the restaurant was going for.  This may have been the most disappointing part of the meal - it began when I asked what the dessert options for.  Our server, who was nice, started by listing the desserts they didn't have.  Who does that?  It's okay to include them if they are that fantastic, but perhaps at the end as a way to bring the customer back . . . "Oh and we normally have X but it was so popular this weekend we are all out.  You'll have to come back again and definitely order that - it's amazing!".  Nope, she started, "We're out of X, Y, Z, but I think we have A, B, and C."  Missing from the list, Allen L and I agree, was a seasonal offering such as an Apple Crisp or a Peppermint Cheesecake.  Our tortes arrived and were visually appealing, but the turtle trio flavors of caramel, chocolate, and nuts was replaced with uninspired blandness encased in a rubbery texture.  We both agree it's probably not worth the calories. 

This was a unique restaurant and we got a unique vibe - not saying it was a good one nor a bad one, just very different.  It didn't feel warm and friendly.  It didn't feel harsh or rude.  There are MANY rules and procedures posted for patrons to follow in the restaurant and it gives a feeling of "if you want to eat here you have to follow the rules."  It started with the No Cell Phone Sign - hello it's 2012!  Then it continued as soon as I entered the bar side and was offered to be seated in either seat A or seat B despite the majority of the restaurant being empty - both A & B were by the door - it just felt as if I weren't a "regular" customer so this is the crap seats I 'm allowed to sit in.  Then I was told to walk outside and in the family room door where I was greeted with another "rule" - press the bell for service.  Shouldn't someone just be paying attention and welcoming customers???

The small but thematically decorated restroom had 6 "rules" posted in there - really?  Is that necessary to boss your customers around SO MUCH!  The mirror and decorations were perfectly suited for the dog theme, but the posted "rules" were just a bit much. 

That was actually taped to the inside of the toilet seat to tell customers to put down the lid -really!

This was the pictorial display above the toilet singling out the men to put the lid down.  Is this REALLY necessary?

Don't turn out the light - alright then!  Will do!

This isn't an uncommon sign in restrooms, but again, what about having the staff checking it regularly to ensure it's up to par!

Again, not an uncommon or even unacceptable sign - I'm good with it, but on top of the  other 5 signs it just felt as if we were all being give manner lessons!
There were other "rules" posted - not all of them unreasonable, just felt as if every time you looked somewhere there was something else you had to do . . .

This restaurant does not have anything that we saw worth returning for (except the Bacon Cole Slaw and possibly the martinis) -the service was adequate not exceptional, the majority of the food was tolerable not extraordinary, the drinks were decent and at $5 a bargain, but the variety and depth of the offerings was not enough to divert your car in this direction.  The train, a mere 20' from the door, passed 4 times during our visit and was loud enough to abruptly end any conversation occurring.  The relaxing and fun atmosphere they attempted to create is sidelined by all the posted rules and procedures.  The Elles are unlikely to return, but it wasn't such a horrible experience that we wouldn't recommend you check it out for yourself.

Until the next bite -

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