Everything about the dining experience at Rustik would make you think you were in a swanky restaurant in downtown Toronto. The décor has a modern rustic feel that is reminiscent of a place that might be found in the Distillery District or the Annex, but the warm and welcoming atmosphere is in a class all of its own. Located in downtown Orangeville at the corner of Broadway and First Street, Rustik Restaurant offers casual fine dining with an eclectic menu of local fare items that is certain to appeal to every palette.
I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Brett Jaggard, who has been the owner and proprietor of Rustik since 2014. With extensive experience in the hospitality industry, Brett’s energy and enthusiasm for what she does has helped to make Rustik an undeniable success. After being employed for many years at One99 Restaurant (which had previously occupied her current location), Brett decided to venture off on her own. She took a year off with the intention of finding her own restaurant space, and she was eventually contacted by Chris Shoniker (owner of One99), who offered to sell the restaurant to her. And the rest as they say – is history.
With much of the renovation process already complete by the time she had taken over, Brett was determined to incorporate her own personal style into the overall feel of Rustik. She wanted to maintain the modern/rustic feel, but it was important to her that it not feel pretentious or stuffy. With a “come as you are” attitude, and a staff that is clearly more like family than co-workers, Rustik is a dining experience that you will not soon forget. The dining room décor alone holds so many interesting conversation pieces that its difficult to not want to know more. The chandeliers were hand made by Brett and an artist friend, fashioned from driftwood reclaimed from Georgian Bay that was carefully hand selected and wired to fit with the existing electrical system. The reclaimed wall accents are subtly infused with silver paint, to give a glowing hue in the evening hours. Much of the artwork includes an eclectic assortment of pieces that are hand made from collected pieces of driftwood, and some pieces have been curated from Brett’s own personal collection. The upper level offers an intimate private dining experience option, and additional seating that does not detract from the intimate feel of the restaurant.
And then, of course, there is the menu. A cornucopia of local fare and Canadian Content with an eclectic selection of items personally chosen by Chef Adam Lusk, the carefully selected dishes are often seasonal in nature and driven by local supply and availability. Chef Adam and Brett work closely together in developing their seasonal menus, and pride themselves on supporting local suppliers wherever possible. “We are very fortunate to have some amazing local companies who provide us with a good portion of the ingredients we use” says Jaggard. “With local sources for their steaks, duck, chicken and almost all of our produce, we are able to obtain excellent quality, fresh ingredients to work with, which truly makes a difference in the taste and quality of the food we offer our customers”.
Chef Adam Lusk attended the George Brown School of Culinary Arts, and he has described himself as “classically trained in the French/European/Italian style”. Adam is relatively young, with 10 years of experience under his belt mostly spent working at Hockley Valley Resort. He has a quiet and humble personality, and it is easy to see why these traits bring such a positive energy to the kitchen. As he worked away at preparing some dishes for us to photograph, his focus on the task at hand was undeniable, but he was constantly smiling and clearly loves what he does. “I have always enjoyed cooking, but it was my wife who pushed me to attend culinary school”, says Lusk. “I love creating something that people can enjoy. It is not just about the food it is about presentation – it is a feast for the eyes. Its about the smell, the entire package. We like to think we are providing an experience rather than just a dish”.
And of course, what would a great meal be without a fantastic wine? The wine list at Rustik is carefully selected and reasonably priced, and it offers something for everyone. Using local wine suppliers, Jaggard works with them to curate a selection of quality vintages that can be paired with a meal or enjoyed on their own. From Hockley Valley to Sonoma California, there are so many wonderful options it is difficult to choose just one. For those who prefer other beverages, they also have a great selection of local craft beers and signature cocktails.
It is hard to ignore the fact that the restaurant industry has been heavily impacted by the Covid-19 Pandemic. The ever-changing rules and regulations have made navigating through the storm challenging to say the least. This makes Brett’s positive attitude and excitement about her business even more endearing, and her refusal to let the current circumstances impact her future and her love for what she does speaks volumes. “It has been difficult,” says Jaggard, “but I am so lucky to have a staff who are family, who are all in, and who continue to be committed regardless of the situation we find ourselves in. We have made the best of it by providing takeout options to our clients, and by offering patio dining when we are able. We look forward to the day when we can welcome people back into the restaurant to enjoy the full dining experience that we strive to provide”.
With delicious food, welcoming and attentive staff, and a casual fine dining atmosphere that makes you want to stay a while, Rustik provides the perfect backdrop for a romantic date night, girls night out, or an evening of laughter and conversation with good friends. In an unprecedented time of isolation and uncertainty, I believe that is something we can all look forward to.
Rustik Restaurant is located at 199 Broadway, in Orangeville. More information including their menu can be found at: www.rustikrestaurant.ca.
Reservations are not required but are highly recommended.
WRITTEN BY: TANYA BOTTOMLEY | PHOTOGRAPHY: CORY BRUYEA | RESOURCES: RUSTIK LOCAL BISTRO