Houston Restaurant Review: Jonathan’s The Rub
If you are a the kind of diner that values high-end comfort food and restaurants with a “New York feel”, I would highly recommend checking out Jonathan’s The Rub, located in Houston’s Hedwig Village off I-10 and Campbell on the west side of town.
Jonathan’s The Rub is the creation of restaurateur Jonathan Levine, who has been a private chef and caterer in and around the Memorial area for many years after moving to Houston from Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Going off the recommendation of many of his clients, Jonathan finally decided to open The Rub about two years ago. The customer list has grown considerably since then but it’s excellent that the ambience and cuisine remain the same.
In a recent interview with the Houston Press, Jonathan shed some insight on how “The Rub” came into existence: “Because of the catering, I found out what everybody around here likes, and since I can cook anything, I created a menu of the favorite foods that my customers like,” he says. “All of my food is familiar food. My customers don’t want to look at the menu and have to ask what’s this and what’s that, and they certainly don’t want to look at their plate and try to figure out what’s what…One example is a dish we recently added to our menu. It’s a blue cheese broccoli casserole. Nothing complicated, but people are really going nuts over it. All of my beef is Angus beef, and I marinate my steaks in olive oil and then use a special spice rub. We have a BYOB policy, and everybody has a good time.”
Walking into the Rub on any given night, you’ll hear the sounds of the city, like Tony Bennett to Luciano Pavarotti, as you get seated and comfortable with friends and/or family. The management and wait staff, which include Jonathan’s own daughter Jessica, are all very welcoming. This is not a surprising fact given that they are used to serving a plethora of regulars, most of which they consider as almost an extended family. Diners from Hedwig Village and surrounding areas fill this spot nightly. In fact, on one of my own visits last week, I was marveling the fact when I noticed our waitress, Jessica, checking on other tables besides ours while calling every patron by name. They all knew hers as well and it just made me feel so very at home while feeling like I was on a getaway back east.
Apart from the excellent food, which I’ll get to in a little bit, a lot of the appeal of dining at Jonathan’s The Rub is due truly to the ambience. I mentioned New York before and Jonathan’s definitely has that “it” that goes along with the city. And just to let you guys know, I was born and raised around New York for more years than I’ve been in Texas so I know what I’m talking about. Jonathan’s is small, yet intimate, with décor and a patio reminiscent of the Italian side of famed Canal Street. It’s not unlike sitting at any other spot in New York except without the hustle and bustle surrounding you. One can tell by the sights, sounds, and smells that Jonathan’s The Rub is the heart of its quaint little neighborhood. This ambience makes the diner feel like the star of the show and the beauty of it all is that Jonathan’s allows its’ customers to bring their own wine, etc. which is a treat considering that they only charge a very small corking fee.
While the ambience is truly worthwhile, what really sets Jonathan’s The Rub aside from other restaurants in Houston is Jonathan Levine’s own brand of hybrid Northeastern/Southern cuisine. The Rub features an open kitchen with Jonathan Levine cooking personally, nightly. It’s an exciting feeling to smell the aroma of the kitchen see Jonathan back there as customers walk in, if for no other reason other than the anticipation of an excellent dining experience.
I haven’t had the chance to review the entire menu just yet but what I can tell you is that the restaurant focuses on using only the highest grade ingredients, from the meat to the produce, everything is produced local and is always fresh. Don’t let me fool you. I call it comfort food because of the considerable portions and the ambience but everything I have ever ordered there is truly high-end. From everything I’ve had, I would recommend the Baby Lamp Chops (full rack), Smoked Chops, or the Chilean Sea Bass. If you want New York Italian, try the Osso Bucco or Seafood fra Diavolo. And if you want to catch the restaurant at lunch, they have excellent 9oz. burgers as well as sweet potato fries. And last thing I’ll say is that they have the best gumbo in Houston. Truly – I challenge you to find a better one.
My Final Verdict: Jonathan’s The Rub is impressive all around. From the staff to the ambience to the excellent dishes, Jonathan’s is simplistic enough to be a comfortable casual dining experience for me, whether alone or with friends. It also has enough flair and New York appeal for me to bring a date there. In fact, it’s perfect for those occasions because you can bring your own bottle of vino and Jonathan’s daughter Jessica will remember you by name and make your guest feel at home as well. Jonathan’s The Rub has all its bases covered. 10/10!
Jonathan’s The Rub
9061 Gaylord St
Houston TX 77024
Hours: Lunch 11-2:20 Monday thru Friday Dinner starts at 5:30 and we stay open in response to demand. Sunday is our day of rest.
Health Considerations: Low Carb, Low Fat, Sugar Free, MSG Free, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Lactose Free Dairy, Vegetarian
- Appetizer: Chesapeake Crab Cakes or Meatballs
- Soup: Chicken and Sausage gumbo
- Salad: House with our homemade House Dressing
- Entree: I cook everything with LOVE. – Chilean sea Bass!!!
- Sides: Blue Cheese Broccoli, Mac n 5 Cheeses
- Dessert: Italian Lemon Cream Cake
Message from Jonathon’s The Rub
Chef John Levine
Seafoods, Steak & Chops
Full Service Catering
Jonathon’s The Rub is a small, upscale restaurant and caterer in Hedwig Village that has developed its own meat rubs and offers foods from an open kitchen to regulars and first-timers. Chef Jon Levine changes the menu slightly every day, featuring seafood, Italian specialties and steaks and chops. Dine in our small and intimate dining room, reminiscent of New York City, with an open kitchen where the owner Chef Jonathan and Chef Julio prepare your meal right in front of you. Our customer favorites include our Chilean Sea Bass to our incredible nine oz burger. Try our Seafood Fra Diavolo, teeming with tender lobster, fresh mussels, scallops and shrimp and a portion generous enough to enjoy the next day. We offer fine full service catering throughout the Houston area. The Rub is BYOB, so bring a bottle of your favorite wine or beer. Jonathon’s The Rub is open Monday through Saturday.