There isn't much on the outside of the boxy structure at 2625 Edgewater Drive in College Park that indicates RusTeak lives there. Maybe that has to do with the seemingly hasty move to take over that building at the last minute instead of the previously announced location down the street. It takes time to deal with sign makers in this town, I've heard.
But RusTeak is definitely inside, and so is a more attractive decor, though I can't for the life of me figure out what a painting of Edgar Allen Poe (or big-eyed bees, for that matter) has to do with the brand. Oh well, the food is good and the service is, too. In fact, the servers could tone it down just a bit, but I'll come back to that.
I stopped in for a recent lunch visit and looked over the overwhelming menu — 34 mains and 17 starters or salads. I settled on an appetizer of shrimp fritters and a burger, while my companion chose the Californication sandwich.
The dense fritter balls had plenty of chopped shrimp (can you still call them jumbo when they've been rendered into tiny bits?) plus bacon and corn. The texture was dense and they were well-fried but not greasy. I liked the Old Bay aioli dipping sauce more than the honeyed one.
The burger I chose was the one called the John Deer. I grew up in Moline, Illinois, home of John Deere corporate headquarters, so I felt a duty. Of course, the burger was so named because it was made with venison (organic and Canadian, according to the menu, although that might be redundant). It was cooked to medium-rare, as requested, and served with a cider-onion jam, dill havarti cheese and smoked bacon. Some fresh arugula tossed in walnut oil sat on top and a really thick slice of tomato was on the bottom. All of it was between a fresh toasted garlic brioche bun. There was a slightly sweet note that I couldn't isolate, and the whole thing was a bit too big to pick up and eat, but I plowed right through it.
I chose the scallop potatoes side dish with my sandwich, and, really, I could have been happy eating that thick slab of tatoes layered with cheese and onions for my entree.
My friend's unfortunately named Californication featured blackened flatiron steak with bits of blue cheese on top, a big rasher of smoked bacon, and avocado slaw. Didn't see much avocado there, but I loved the herbed mayo notes and the focaccia bread it was served on, quite fresh and not as garlicky as the description suggested.
The Maple Bacon Brussels Sprouts were syrupy sweet, almost like candy. Sorry that Halloween has passed, they would have been a healthy treat to pass out.
The decor features rough-hewn wood and corrugated steel but is more attractive than it sounds. It's a bit dark (and the Poe portrait doesn't help lighten it up) but that's partly due to the covered patio at the front of the house that prevents light from streaming in. Side windows try to make up for that. A wine room/private dining area has been formed near the bar area. I don't remember that being there with previous tenants, which include Scruffy Murphy's among others, but I could be wrong.
When she first greeted us, our server told us that she would be "taking care of us," then said that everyone else would be, too, because they practice team waiting. I didn't know how seriously she meant that until four separate staff members, not counting a manager, came by to ask us if everything was OK. I'm a firm believer in cross service, but come on, folks, there needs to be a point person.
But if the biggest complaint about a new restaurant is that the service was too attentive then it's not doing too badly.
RusTeak College Park is at 2625 Edgewater Drive, Orlando. It is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. The phone number is 407-540-1100. The original RusTeak is at 1568 Maguire Road, Ocoee, 407-614-3765.