Rusty Dog Irish Pub
N. Jefferson St.
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!|
|Yes, in 2012 when everyone has a smart phone, the policy of this establishment is "No cell phone use!"|
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!|
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!|
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.
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!|
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 -