Elizabeth Garabedian / Lantern reporter
There is something about the experience of sitting in a restaurant and taking in the ambiance that surrounds you – the hustle and bustle of the servers mixed with the calmness of patrons already enjoying their food, as you wait in suspense for the meal you so carefully selected off the menu.
This atmosphere exists at Rusty Bucket, a cozy and comfortable tavern with locations in Upper Arlington, Bexley, Gahanna and elsewhere. Upon arrival at the Upper Arlington location, a polite hostess greeted my two friends and I as we got a full view of the bar. For sports fans, a large arrangements of television sets loom in all areas of the facility, featuring all things football and basketball.
Within seconds of entering, our server brought us to our table and we found ourselves opening up the dinner menu filled with options like Rusty Bucket’s signature Parmesan crusted tilapia for $13.99 and buffalo chicken sandwich for $8.99. In addition to the regular menu, there are daily specials, and since we visited on a Tuesday, we had the option of spaghetti dinner with Bolognese sauce over the marinara for $9.99.
As the waiter took our drink order and went to get them, the dim lighting and classic, soft rock music playing in the background were especially noticeable, as they added a calming effect that seemed to overpower our hunger. The waiter came back five minutes later with the drinks and took our orders. I chose the California Turkey Burger for $8.99 with little difficulty. It is served with avocado mayo and Swiss cheese on a whole wheat bun. My two tablemates ordered the Asian tuna wrap for $9.99 and chili bowl, and our meals came about 15 minutes later. We were immediately overcome with the comfort that comes with a hearty, home-cooked meal.
Getting into the details of our meals, however, we found some surprises. The California Turkey Burger is loaded with red bell peppers, a vegetable I am not particularly fond of, so I promptly picked them out. The chili was rather chunky; the beans and tomatoes are not chopped but add extra spice and flavor in their larger stature. The Asian tuna wrap, my friend said, “tastes exactly like a sushi roll, but bigger.”
Overall, despite my distaste for red peppers, my turkey burger was thoroughly enjoyable, especially topped with the smooth, creamy, chunk-free avocado mayo. Topped with sour cream and cheese, the chili is loaded with warmth and satisfaction in every bite; it is proof that the bigger the ingredients, the better. And the Asian tuna wrap, with its intricate side dish of zucchini, tomatoes and feta cheese, is a crisp, fresh meal that can possibly be replicated at home. The one caveat is that the meal described on the menu is not exactly what you get – which explains the surprise red peppers on my burger.
Pricing may be beyond a typical college student’s budget, especially for fish items. Specials range from $8.99 to $20.99, and appetizers start at $7.59. To get the greatest value for your meal, aim for a special or a sandwich, starting at $8.49.
Service reaches far beyond expectations. Waiters must be watching your every move because they know exactly when the final sip of your drink has been drunk and arrive to refill it. Their friendliness is a relief after a long day of classes, internships, jobs and the like.
The Rusty Bucket might not be the finest or fanciest establishment in town, but it’s worth the splurge every now and then.
The Upper Arlington location of the Rusty Bucket is located at 1635 W. Lane Ave.