Amazing Kale Burger Lunch Counter

**** (4 stars)

It’s always a pleasure to eat where the employees are really passionate about what they do, and that epitomizes The Amazing Kale Burger. From the moment I walked in I felt right at home, and my server’s enthusiasm for the food was very clear.

I tried the Vaden, which is served with a beet-based BBQ sauce. The kale burger patty is quite delicious, with all the ingredient in balance, and a nice crust from cooking. The accompanying lettuce and tomato were quite fresh, and the BBQ sauce was delicious. The bun was a bit small, sturdy and dry for my taste, but I can see where others might like it.

For a side dish I had pickled asparagus, which was tossed with yellow peppers and extremely fresh oregano bits. It was delicious.

House made mint tea was pleasantly unsweetened.

The kale burger was one of the better vegetarian patties I’ve had, and I’d often choose it over a meat patty if it were available elsewhere. Coincidentally, I ate here on national burger day!

Amazing Kale Burger Lunch Counter
741 Howard St
Evanston, IL 60202
(847) 660-4330

RusTeak Restaurant & Wine Bar

**** (4 stars)

Don’t mistake RusTeak for a bar and grill, a steak house or a sandwich shop. In truth it’s all of these but also much more. There is a gourmet twist to everything they do, from appetizers to sandwiches to burgers to entrees. You’ll find ingredients combined in creative (and successful) ways, served in a casual but cozy atmosphere.

I had a pastrami sandwich, which featured extremely tender and lean meat, perfectly toasted bread, and house made close slaw and half sour pickle. My companion’s steak sandwich was also good, although it required deconstruction to be eaten.

There is a shockingly good wine list, extensive and well-conceived. It’s actually one of the best wine lists in town. I can’t imagine where they keep it all.

There’s also a great selection of interesting craft beers.

Service is friendly and efficient.

RusTeak Restaurant & Wine Bar
1568 Maguire Rd
Ocoee, FL 34761
(407) 614-3765

Crafted Block & Brew

**** (4 stars)

This craft beer pub is a great addition to Metrowest. Taking over a long empty restaurant space, the total remodel has created a light, airy and open environment with a large bar in the center. The new outside dining area is extensive, and is rain free, even during a thunderstorm (as we tested!)

The menu offers a nice assortment of salads, sandwiches and burgers. I had the roasted vegetable salad, which had an interesting assortment of root vegetables and was tossed with a deliciously herbal dressing.

We also sampled the cheese appetizer, which was a tasty dish combining several flavors for spooning onto wontons.

Service was extremely attentive and friendly. A great new neighborhood hang out.

Crafted Block & Brew
2417 S. Hiawassee Rd
Orlando, FL 32835
(407) 601-6887

Peckish Pig

*** (3 stars)

This gastropub has a bright, airy indoor area and a lovely patio out back. There is an interesting variety of beers, and an assortment of sandwiches and other pub food.

The chicken panini we tried was nicely pressed, but the brie cheese was mostly rind, which gave it a bit of a musty flavor. The accompanying fries were a bit limp, but tasty. The quinoa salad was fresh, although not particularly flavorful.

We received great service from Caitlyn.

While I don’t know that I would plan on dining here again, it would be a fun place to go for a beer after work.

Peckish Pig
623 Howard St
Evanston, IL 60202
(847) 491-6778

The Rusty Spoon

**** (4 stars)

This gastropub on Church street offers some great food at impressively affordable prices. A well thought out menu lets you graze on starters or assemble a conventional dinner.

We tried the grilled squid and octopus and the haystack fries as starters. The seafood was tender and succulent with just the right amount of char, and served over nicely dressed arugula with tasty pickled rinds. The fries were hay thick and tossed with herbs and cheese. Nicely crispy but not particularly hot (probably because they were too thin to stay warm), they were accompanied by house made ketchup, barbecue sauce and aioli.

To finish up our light meal we shared the “55” burger, a generous serving of meat, charred on the outside and grilled to a perfectly requested medium rare. caramelized onions and melted gouda gave it plenty of flavor, and the bun was crusty enough to hold it together, even when split.

Half the menu is wine and beer selections. Our 2005 Guigal Chateauneuf du Pape lived up to the stellar reputation of the vintage.

The Rusty Spoon
55 W Church St
Ste 101
Orlando, FL 32801
(407) 401-8811

Glenview House

**** (4 stars)

I was in the mood for some gastropub food so I made the drive to Glenview. The menu here is interesting, walking the line between gastropub and neighborhood sports bar. There are a LOT of draft beers.

At the waiter’s suggestion I ended up just having the hamburger, and it proved to be a great choice. Lets see how it stacks up against my idea of a perfect hamburger:

Tasty patty with a crusted outside, cooked to my specified degree of doneness (medium): Check.

Bun with enough integrity that is doesn’t turn mushy, grilled or toasted: Check.

Cheddar cheese: Check.

Bacon option: Check.
Slice of tomato: Check.

Slice of raw onion: Check.

Piece of crisp lettuce: Check.

Mustard, mayo, ketchup: Check, check, check.

Wow! A home run.

Indeed, it was the perfect burger. Now I just need to return for some of that gastropub food I’d intended to get in the first place!

Glenview House
1843 Glenview Rd
Glenview, IL 60025
(847) 724-0692

The Crooked Spoon Gastropub

**** (4 stars)

I’d been wanting to try the Crooked Spoon for some time after hearing about their burger back when it was a food truck. So it was with great anticipation that I read the online menu and then ventured out for lunch. Upon arrival I was quite disappointed to discover that, by bad luck, I’d chosen the day they decided to inaugurate a new Sunday brunch (not noted on the website), and wouldn’t serve items from the regular menu.

Since I’m not a brunch fan, this was unfortunate. The brunch menu contains much less interesting food than their normal offerings. It was hard to understand why at least some of the regular food couldn’t be made available, but we ended up with a 420 burger and a spinach salad, two of the few non-breakfast items. Both were very good. I particularly liked the toasted brioche bun on the burger.

Bruch seemed popular with large families with many kids, which wasn’t exactly the gastropub ambience I was expecting, but good for them, if they’ve found a way to increase business on what might otherwise be a slow day. However it took close to 45 minutes to get a hamburger, which suggests they either had more business than expected, or need more organization. Perhaps the newness of the menu slowed things down, but frankly there weren’t many people still ordering at 2pm on a Sunday when we arrived.

I would like to return when the normal menu is being served, and give them a try on true gastro pub food.

The Crooked Spoon Gastropub
200 Citrus Tower Blvd
Clermont, FL 34711
(352) 404-7808

Farmhouse Evanston

**** (4 stars)

This place is the second outpost of Farmhouse, and it has been an instant success, packed every time I’ve looked in. The theme here is local sourcing, and nearly everything on the menu–even including the wines, beers and spirits–comes from nearby.

We shared the stuffed trout and a burger. The trout was served on black quinoa with a red berry sauce. The berry sauce made the otherwise fairly bland dish pop, but there could have been a bit more than the little drizzle. The burger was thick, perfectly cooked, and on an excellent bun. Accompanying fries were a bit thin and limp for my taste.

Ambiance is lively, and the spirits list is very interesting. This explains why the bar is so packed. Definitely a place to check out when in Evanston.

Farmhouse Evanston
703 Church St
Evanston, IL 60201
(847) 492-9700