Paul Woods, a 30-year resident of Cape Elizabeth and a local developer, opened his first restaurant, Rudy’s, last month. Named after the “truck-stop”-style café that served residents and tourists for years, the new Rudy’s is completely unrecognizable. Pristine, energy-efficient, sleek and modern with rustic road house-style flair, Rudy’s is a sight for sore eyes and hungry bellies.
On a recent night, every table but one was filled, and all 13 seats at the bar were taken. St. Patrick’s Day was thought to be the cause, but Woods says this particular night wasn’t actually that busy for them – in the month they’ve been open, there’s often been a short wait.
During the summertime, the social hour at Rudy’s will feature oyster specials, but for now bites include waffle dogs, French onion soup rings, fried Pineland Farms cheese curds, candied bacon and blue cheese stuffed dates all for $4 each.
Woods’ mission is to help encourage a “diverse social ecosystem” at the restaurant. He understands that Rudy’s might not be everyone’s regular place, but with social hour, he hopes to attract locals and tourists to, at the very least, stop in for a deal.
The idea seems to be working. The crowd was varied – from young families to older couples, and singles at the bar to a group of high school friends at a nearby table.
There are a couple of things to watch out for at Rudy’s, but this could really be said for any new restaurant. While the servers are sweet and, for the most part, professional, the staff is still learning the menu and may not be able to describe the drinks very well. The bartenders, on the other hand, are sufficiently knowledgeable.
Another ding against Rudy’s, which by the time of publication, Woods says he will resolve, is one of the cocktails.
The Country Lawyer seemed like an intriguing mix of bourbon, liqueurs and chocolate bitters, but was a terrible disappointment. There was no garnish, the glass was only two-thirds full and the drink resembled a pre-sipped glass of Coca-Cola, not a cocktail that was listed for a whopping $12. It was undrinkable, to boot. The server promptly took it off the bill and apologized.
On the other hand, the Negroni – one of three cocktails Rudy’s features on tap – was as classy as ever and reasonable at $9. The two additional cocktails on tap have the all-too-unfortunate names of “Cougar Juice” and “Rusty Siding.” When ordering, maybe just point to the drink to avoid saying the names. Ordering “Cougar Juice” at a certain volume could cause a stir.
Despite some very normal and expected newbie flaws, Rudy’s is a must-see, must-eat and must-drink kind of place.
WHERE: 517 Ocean House Road, Cape Elizabeth
HOURS: Dinner 5-9 p.m. Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday; 5-10 p.m. Thursday, Friday, Saturday; Social Hour is 3-5:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday
AMENITIES: Free parking lot, screened-in porch room that could double as a private room that features radiant heat in the floor, decorative, yet functional “wood-burning” stove, view of the open kitchen from the bar, favorable lighting, fresh flowers at every table.
PARKING: Free parking lot
BOTTOM LINE: Rudy’s is Cape Elizabeth’s newest restaurant & bar that offers something for everyone. The menu boasts pizza from their wood-fired oven, burgers, salads, lots of sides, and classy entrees. The bar is one of the focal points of the restaurant with a stylish, sleek, yet rustic design, and can seat up to 13. Rudy’s hosts a lot of Cape Elizabeth locals, but welcomes everyone, especially during “social hour” when drinks are discounted and special bites are featured, such as candied bacon.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE: Yes