Rusty Hook Tavern Pompano Beach – Fresh Caught Finesse
Rusty Hook Tavern is anchored beside the Sands Harbor Resort and Marina on Pompano Beach’s Intracoastal Waterway. Both discerning pescetarians and fish lovers will enjoy discovering the quaint harborside restaurant’s flair for preparing daily catches, -from Black Grouper to Wahoo. Rusty Hook cooks their locally caught as well as “out of town” fish in a Woodstone Oven at 1200 degrees.
Broward County may not be regarded as haute at the moment, but this will all change sooner than later. Major real estate developers from Miami to New York have presented projects to this unassuming coastal city, and, Rusty Hook Tavern has already garnered praise as a Reason to Drive to Broward by Zagat Miami.
The owners that run Rusty Hook are award-winning Chef Nader “Ned” Jaouhar, celebrated Mixologist Kareem Lakchria, and talented Front of House manager Andy Patton. The trio met when they worked under Gordon Ramsey at the Boca Raton Resort restaurant Cielo.
Walking up the wooden ramp to the restaurant to dine with fellow invited food bloggers, I could not help admiring the beautiful view of the marina, -both off the dockside patio and inside through Rusty Hook’s large glass windows.
Rusty Hook Tavern’s menu is not exclusively seafood. We were first presented with taverns bites, such as the table favorites Wicked Tuna Nachos – shiny red fresh Tuna Poke, Cabbage Slaw, Avocado and Jalapeno Aioli, and Duck Tostadas – tender roasted Duck atop a Cornbread Pancake and covered with Cojita Cheese and Whiskey Bacon Maple Syrup.
However, I preffered Rusty Hook Tavern’s newest menu item, Head On Prawns –extra large Shrimps perfectly char-grilled whole in a Brown Sugar Puree and served with an delicate Citrus Garlic Butter Sauce and a whole half of a grilled Meyer Lemon. These simple beauties were sweet to eat.
I found the rich and exotic flavor combination of the Chipotle Shrimp Flatbread pleasingly unique. The long, thin crust pizza was liberally topped with Grilled Baby Shrimp glazed with Chipotle Sauce and fresh cut sweet and tangy Mangos as well as Queso Fresco (a soft and creamy Mexican white cheese) and Cilantro Crema.
At the tasting, we were also able to sample Kareem Lakchira’s creative libations. Starting with a pale looking Thai Basil –Orange Vodka, Thai Basil, strained Grapefruit Juice and a floating sliced Radish. What this martini lack in color was delivered in taste, -herby, tart, sweet and spicy all at once, and completely delicious. I didn’t think Kareem could top this cocktail, until the humble Morocco-born bartender brought us his elegant Marrakesh. This champagne cocktail is made with Campari, Elderflower Cordial, Cranberry Juice, Rose Water, then, topped with Prosecco and fresh Blueberries.
As for the dinner, it continued with a serving of local Swordfish with Roasted Clams in a delectable Tom Yum soup-like Sauce, with an emphasis on Yum. This aromatic Thai spicy sour fish dish demands fresh crusty bread to sop up its savory goodness.
The pièce de résistance was the honored catch of the day, Hog Fish, prepared two ways. As with all daily catches, this delicate white fish was Woodstone Oven-roasted to a golden crisp and served whole. The first version arrived in Rusty Hook Tavern’s customary Meyer Lemon Caper Sauce with fresh English Peas. Each rich, sweet morsel melted like butter in my mouth.
The hogfish is not very pretty to look at with its long, pig-like snout, thick lips and canine-like teeth, but it sure is tasty. After the server carves away the meat with a spoon and bread knife, you still may need to negotiate around the tiny bones, but the flavor gained by cooking the fish whole is worth it.
In the next presentation, the Hogfish was glazed with red Thai curry, and accompanied by a zesty and crunchy Papaya Salad. I prized most this second style of preparation as I really favor a fusion of sweet and spicy flavors.
Rusty Hook Tavern located at 125 N Riverside Dr, Pompano Beach, FL 33062. For reservations or more information, visit: therustyhooktavern.com