Rusk Kitchen + Bar in East Walnut Hills Offers Stylish and Cozy Spot to Have a Good Time

"We saw an opportunity to enhance and help join the community here, and that's what we're trying to do."

Jun 28, 2023 at 5:04 am
click to enlarge Rusk Kitchen + Bar serves up "American-eclectic" eats and vibes in East Walnut Hills. - Photo: Emory Davis
Photo: Emory Davis
Rusk Kitchen + Bar serves up "American-eclectic" eats and vibes in East Walnut Hills.

This story is featured in CityBeat's June 28 print edition.

Woodburn Avenue in East Walnut Hills has seen an energizing resurgence recently, with numerous shops, bars and restaurants opening in the last decade. From breweries, salons and specialty boutiques mixed with long-standing pet care and board game shops, it's easy to get swept up in the charm of this street and keep coming back for more. And now, there's another reason to visit with the opening of the new family-friendly bar and restaurant Rusk Kitchen + Bar. 

Rusk is owned by brothers Troy and Brendan McAndrews, who also own The Establishment in Oakley. They acquired the space on Woodburn Avenue in 2019 when it was originally a garage, intending to have someone else come in and take over the space. But as time passed, they realized only they could bring their vision to life, and Rusk was born. They brought on Dave Osborne as general manager to support their endeavor, leveraging his experience working at The Establishment for several years.

Osborne said they were going for an American-eclectic vibe. "We wanted something just to match the neighborhood," he said. "It is a fantastic neighborhood. There are a lot of good things going on." 

What started as a vision for a welcoming neighborhood bar turned into a fully-fledged restaurant with a laid-back rooftop deck. But what remained the same was the intent to make this a location for people to gather around for good times and good food. "We saw an opportunity to enhance and help join the community here, and that's what we're trying to do," said Osborne. "We're trying to be part of the neighborhood and what's going on here and making it a destination spot."

The extensive menu offers a wide selection of dishes, from appetizers and salads to sandwiches and entrees. Osborne said his sandwich of choice is the Midwest Cubano. This filling sandwich is piled high with pork loin and pulled pork, topped with yellow mustard, house sauce, pickles, and Swiss cheese, all housed between a delightful French roll. Regarding entrees, Osborne's favorite is the Cajun Chicken Alfredo, made with blackened chicken and andouille sausage and a creamy Cajun spiced garlic parmesan sauce. 

The Parthenon Power Bowl provides a lighter yet still-filling vegetarian option made with a medley of fresh vegetables, including kale, roasted red peppers and charred onions, all topped with feta and crispy capers. Depending on the day, a weekly special menu with gumbo, meatloaf and pesto is also available. Osborne plans to switch out options in the fall with staff-made plates. They plan to allow the kitchen staff to create their own dishes, with the top picks chosen as the season's new weekly specials. 

The appetizer menu cannot be overlooked either, with classic favorites like doughy Bavarian pretzels paired with Düsseldorf mustard and wings to foodie finds like caramelized Brussel sprouts mixed with dried blueberries, crispy frizzled onions and a balsamic glaze. 

If brunch is more your style, stop by on Saturdays and Sundays from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. to enjoy offerings like smoked salmon benedict, sweet cheese and blackberry pancakes, buttermilk biscuits and sausage gravy. A fellow Woodburn Avenue neighbor and local business, Urbana Coffee, also provides fresh cups of coffee at the location for brunch.  

The brunch menu also features mouthwatering lunch entrees if breakfast food isn't your favorite. One option is the Animal Farm sandwich, made with fried chicken, applewood smoked bacon and pimento cheese on a toasted croissant. There's also an Elvis-inspired burger, The King, made with a ⅓-pound smash burger topped with peanut butter, bacon and sweet onion jam. 

They also offer signature cocktails and drinks along with various tasty bites for breakfast, lunch and dinner. One of their customer favorites is a spin on a Moscow mule that swaps out the vodka for tequila with agave, aptly named The Rusk Mule. Another popular drink on the menu is the Irish Espresso Martini, made with Jameson cold brew whiskey mixed with Kahlúa and dark chocolate liqueur. Along with cocktails, a long list of wines, draft and bottled beers, whiskey, bourbon and seltzers are also available. 

After building the kitchen staff from scratch, Osborne is proud of how far they've come and how the team is constantly open to learning and improving daily. "Our staff is really coming together," he said. "We adjust and pivot as we can and just try to make it the overall best experience." Osborne knows how important family time and budgeting can be and wants to make sure Rusk is a dependable spot people can come to for an enjoyable meal and a relaxing time out. 

"Our goal is to enhance the experience through the service, decor and food," said Osborne. "We adjust and pivot as we can and just try to make the experience, overall, the best."

Rusk Kitchen + Bar, 2724 Woodburn Ave., East Walnut Hills. Info: ruskcincy.com.


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