Though their backgrounds are in fine dining, the three owners of a Pompano Beach waterfront restaurant were determined to call their latest venture a tavern.
Historically, a tavern is a public house or inn, a place for travelers to stop by for a drink and maybe some shut-eye. For Andy Patton, general manager of The Rusty Hook Tavern, that conjured up images of diners gathering joyously around the table.
“We wanted to make ourselves that local Pompano hangout place,” he says. “When we opened this, we wanted to provide the elements of fine dining, but in a fun, relaxed, casual atmosphere.”
“We” includes chef Nadar “Ned” Jaouhar and bar manager Kareem Lakchira, the Rusty Hook’s other two partners. The trio met a decade ago and opened Cielo, a Gordon Ramsay restaurant in Boca Raton. They parted ways after four years but stayed in contact.
Three years ago, they caught word of a defunct restaurant at a marina on the Intracoastal Waterway. Formerly Joe’s Riverside Grill, it was being used as something of a storage closet for the Sands Harbor Resort, which is attached to the right. “It was a shame—it was prime real estate,” Patton says.
The Rusty Hook (125 N. Riverside Drive) is now a minimalist spot featuring burnt-orange accents and wood trusses. True to its tavern name, the menu features local draft beers, bottled brews, beer in a bag and wine by the glass. Lakchira adds whimsy with seven specialty cocktails, which, like the food menu, change three to four times a year.
At year’s end, all but two libations will be replaced—Thai Basil and Guilty Plea, the two most popular items, which have been on the menu since The Rusty Hook opened. Patton says he has a soft spot for the sweet-and-spicy Guilty Plea, which is made with tequila, passion fruit puree, jalapeño-infused simple syrup, a squeeze of lemon juice and Licor 43, a citrus-based Spanish liqueur flavored with herbs and spices.
“They’re easy, light and very drinkable,” Patton says of Lakchira’s concoctions. “You could drink one of each of those cocktails and not really feel [it] as you’re drinking, but then, as you stand up to leave—oh, you feel it.”
1 1/2 ounces tequila
1/2 ounce jalapeño-infused simple syrup
3/4 ounce passion fruit puree
1/2 ounce Licor 43
Dash lemon juice
Shake well with ice and pour into a martini glass. Garnish with raw jalapeño.