Saturday, November 10, 2012

Review: Jonathan's The Rub

I recently received an EMail from one Jonathan Levine, owner of a local restaurant called Jonathan's The Rub.  He asked if I wanted to stop by and try his burger at lunchtime one day.  I did a little research on them--they won the 2011 Houston Press Burger Bracket, beating out The Burger Guys, Petrol Station and The Hubcap Grill.  This is a surprise--I've had burgers at all 3 of those places and every one of them is in my Top Burgers sidebar.  What have I been missing out on?

Interior seems
slightly Tuscan
Per their website, they actually started out as Uncle Jon's Catering in the memorial villages in September of 2004. Jonathan's reputation for dazzling his clients and their guests with his unique, upscale, classic cuisine.  Over time, the brand name developed into Jonathan's Catering. They started out sharing half of the catering space with another food company.  But eventually, in March, 2008, Jonathan's The Rub opened up in full as a restaurant.  This place is located next to a Sunny's Convenience store in Hedwig Village right around the corner from my dentist's office.  It's been there for over four years and somehow it fell beneath my radar.  Personally, I think it's because their sign is a little small for such great food.  However, it may be a Village ordinance that prohibits it from being larger.  No matter, I managed to find them anyhoo!

I read their lunch menu online and was wowed by the selection:  Chessapeake Bay Crab Cakes; Sweet Chili Shrimp, Salmon Salad, Grilled Chicken BLT, Lobster Sliders, and it just rises up from there, dear readers.  I also noticed they were BYOB, but did not find a corkage fee on the website.  Still given the selection of steak and seafood, if you have a fine Pinot Noir or Chardonnay, I could fully understand bringing it along.

Since I am always all about the burger, and this was in fact lunch time, I perused the menu and went with their mainstay known as The Rub.  While this is the name of their original burger, it refers to a mixture of spices they use.  Per their website:
THE RUB is a blend of imported spices created for the passionate palette. It contains handpicked spices that our family has engineered for pure taste-bud satisfaction, and to bring out the flavors in everything we make. When we say we put THE RUB on everything, it's not hyperbole. From our garlic bread to filet mignon, the blackened scallops to our side of mushrooms; its presence is everywhere. It's the quality and combination of spices that lightly tease your palate and give The Rub its ability to complement any dish. When you use THE RUB you'll understand how delicious food can be.
Meet The Rub Original Burger 
I noticed just how much they meant that--the fries were seasoned with it.  The Rub tastes like a mixture of paprika, saffron, brown sugar, garlic and some other items I can't identify.  It's an interesting mixture of sweet and savoury, and I commend them on coming up with it.  The Rub Burger comes with 9-oz char-grilled fresh Rub-seasoned ground chuck with lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions, Jonny sauce, two cheese slices, on a Sheila Partin sweet sourdough bun, with Rub Fries.  Yes sir, Mr. Levine.  Don't mind if I do!  I'll take it Medium please.

This was a very fine burger.  The exterior was nicely charred with the interior having a juicy, hot, pink center.    The meat is sweet, juicy and the Rub seasoning is fantastic on the burger.  The Sheila Partin sweet sourdough bun reminds me of the bun on the Saucer Burger at The Flying Saucer Sugar Land--it's sweet, thick and a lot like Kings Hawaiian bread.  Of note, the lettuce is hand leafed, the pickles crunched, the tomatoes were fresh and firm, not mushy, and the onions worked with everything just fine.  This is a good burger.  In fact it was so good, it's now #11 on my list on the sidebar and my top burgers list is now 19!  The fries were fairly standard, but the Rub seasoning mix gave them a little oomph.  I washed it all down with their house iced tea--was very fresh and had a slight peach citrus essence to it--couldn't quite put my finger on it, but it was good nonetheless.

I also noticed that although I came after 1 PM on a Friday, they were quite busy the whole time I was there--full patio and dining room.  I was lucky I got seated next to the kitchen in fact!  The service was friendly, properly attentive on call backs and the burger came out quickly.  What I really took note of was that the other diners were clearly quite happy with their dishes and enjoying the place despite the hustle and bustle all around them.  Maybe Mr. Levine needs to expand his dining area soon if this is a normal occurrence...

Report Card for Jonathan's The Rub:
     The Rub Original Burger: A
     Rub Fries: A
     Speed: A+
     Friendliness: A
     Dining Area: A
     Men's Room: Incomplete
Atmosphere: Combination American Bistro with Tuscan Inspired Frescoes:  A-

Overall Grade: A  

Jonathan's The Rub is located at:
9061 Gaylord Street
Houston, TX 77024
(one block south of I-10 and Campbell Rd. on the corner of Corbindale and Gaylord, in the same strip center as Sunny's Convenience Store.)

Hours of Operation:
Mon - Fri:
Lunch:  11:00 am - 2:00 pm
Dinner: 5:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Saturday: 5:30 pm - 9:30 pm

I'll be paying them a visit again to try some of their other dishes--the menu is quite varied and extensive and warrants further exploration.

And remember to: Eat Happy, Y'all!!!

Jonathan's the Rub  on Urbanspoon

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