Charlotte Restaurant Week kicks off next Friday and if you haven’t had a chance to visit Rusty Bucket Restaurant & Tavern – SouthPark’s latest dining establishment – it’s the excuse you’ve been waiting for.
Rusty Bucket, an Ohio-based neighborhood grill, celebrated its ribbon cutting in SouthPark’s Sharon Square at Sharon and Fairview roads on Nov. 17. The restaurant is Gary Callicoat’s first concept in North Carolina.
With some of Charlotte’s best and most revered restaurants within a stone’s throw of SouthPark Mall, it’s hard to imagine Rusty Bucket has anything different to offer the area.
Drop in for lunch before the Panthers game or an evening cocktail after work and you’ll see otherwise.
The menu features a wide selection of sandwiches, burgers, entrees and pizzas all made from scratch. But don’t be too quick to call it bar food; the combination of sauces made in house and fresh ingredients used in each entrée has dishes standing out from run-of-the-mill pub fare. Bite into the Asian Tuna Wrap with soy marinated Yellow Fin tuna seared rare and tossed in wasabi mayo and the combination of flavors will have you convinced you’re at a fine-dining sushi restaurant, even though the casual atmosphere with dark wood and exposed brick would prove otherwise. If you’re not a fan of wasabi, however, try Mahi Mahi Tacos, served blackened with fresh citrus cabbage and a sour cream drizzle, or the Buffalo Chicken Sandwich, topped with blue cheese.
Rusty Bucket won’t disappoint if you’re looking for a quality weeknight dinner with the family or a place to hangout by the bar on a Friday night. Speaking of the bar, that’s where the restaurant truly shines – in its ability to deliver hand-crafted, signature cocktails.
If you’re looking for something fresh but not too sweet or fruity, try the Blueberry Bella. Smirnoff blueberry vodka with fresh muddled blueberries, simple syrup and a dash of lemon provides a drink that’s refreshing with just the right amount of sugar. Daiquiri fans should order the Hemmingway Daiquiri – the combination of rum, luxardo cherry juice, simple syrup and fresh grapefruit puts a unique twist on a classic cocktail. And don’t worry – this isn’t your typical come-in-a-can, cruise ship daiquiri; the sophisticated Hemmingway Daiquiri is dry, smooth and goes down a little too easily.
Whatever you do, don’t leave before trying the Sticky Bun Bread Pudding. It’s a huge portion of cinnamon bread and custard topped with caramel and vanilla ice cream big enough to share, but you probably won’t want to. It’s enough to keep guests coming back time after time.
But perhaps what makes Rusty Bucket something special in SouthPark has nothing to do with the food, the cocktails or even the bread pudding. The restaurant prides itself on giving back to the community by supporting local schools, nonprofits and organizations focused on families, health, safety and education. In December, Rusty Bucket donated a portion of its “Breakfast with Santa” proceeds to Toys for Tots, while also holding a coat drive to benefit Salvation Army.
Making it in the competitive Charlotte restaurant scene isn’t easy, but Rusty Bucket is certainly on the right track.
Rusty Bucket is located at 4810 Ashley Park Lane.