The Philly Cheese Steak has a lot of peppers and onions for the brave.
The Philly Cheese Steak has a lot of peppers and onions for the brave.
photo by Lorretta Ruggiero

There is a multitude of restaurants along Highways 249 and 290, but the Cypriots (okay, Cypress residents) living in between the major thoroughfares contend with a bit of a dining desert. Sure there are the various Mexican restaurants and little Chinese joints, but there aren’t a lot of other options. R&R Crafthouse Grill, which opened July 15 at 12910 Malcomson, hopes to fill the void left behind when Kilburn’s Tavern closed down.

The area off of Grant road could use a few grown-up hangouts. There are a couple of divey bars, but the suburban Cypress crowd has been in dire need of a pub, which Kilburn’s satisfied for years.

I took my family one early Friday evening to see what the new restaurant had to offer and also to see what changes had been made. I was a fan of the English pub decor at Kilburn’s. The more prints of horses and dogs the better. The R&R Crafthouse Grill has replaced the hunting prints with black and white photographs of Cypress over the years, a great way to showcase the local vibe of the bar.

The attractive brick wall is still there, but the new decor is mostly gray, which is a bit too minimalistic for my taste, but it seems to have become a trend. There were also the wire light fixtures and Edison bulbs that adorn nearly every new restaurant and bar in town. I like them. I want some for my house.

We were greeted right away as we walked in and sat at the banquette against the brick wall. Through the glass doors, the outside patio looked the same, but devoid of the bounty of flowers that used to line the fountain area. Of course, it’s 98 degrees outside, so the flowers may return when the weather cools down.

Our waiter came over almost immediately and was very friendly. My husband ordered a pint of Aunt Rose Red Helles Lager ($7) from Bearded Fox Brewing out of Tomball and I ordered a Frose, to see what their version was like. It was a dollar off for happy hour, but the specials for beer seemed pretty limited, restricted to domestic pints. Considering this is a place that sells craft beers, I would have expected some happy hour pricing on the local brews.

They also have craft sodas from Real Sugar Soda, so my daughter ordered the Mandarina, which is made with cane sugar. She liked it okay, but thought it didn’t taste very sweet. Her teen taste buds are used to Sunkist.

My Frose was a fruity wine slushie, served with a little umbrella. It’s not something that I would probably order more than one of, but it was a refreshing way to start off dinner.

A frosty Frose for Mom and a cold beer for Dad.
A frosty Frose for Mom and a cold beer for Dad.
photo by Lorretta Ruggiero

We ordered the Big Rings, a basket of fried onion rings ($5.95) for a starter. The serving was very generous and the batter was light and crispy, perfect for the sweet onion inside. Even my onion-hating daughter liked them, probably because they were fried and served with buttermilk ranch dressing.

More local folks were starting to wander in and it was a mix of middle-aged couples and a few young families. There is a kids menu and high chairs for the toddlers, but the bar area itself makes up a large part of the restaurant. It still has a pub feel to it and would be a comfortable place to hang out on a weekend afternoon.

My husband ordered the Philly Cheesesteak, which he felt was overwhelmed by the amount of peppers and onions. For some cheesesteak lovers that might be a bonus, but for others, it might be a recipe for heartburn.

My daughter had the soft pretzel appetizer and a side of fries. She liked the chipotle mayo that accompanied the pretzel and the fries were hand-cut, with just a little skin left on. They had a good flavor, but they could have used thirty seconds longer in the fryer.

My thirteen-year-old son had the Italian sandwich which was basically chicken parmesan on a hoagie. The tomato sauce was flavorful and the chicken was thick and juicy, but like the fries, it could have used a little extra crisp on it.

I ordered the Bubba Burger, because I have a thing for chili burgers. This one was underwhelming. The burger had a hand-formed patty with a meaty red chili on top and grilled onions. I was expecting something different from the grilled onions. What I got was nearly half an onion, intact, nestled under the chili. Surprisingly, it was very sweet and most of the rawness had been cooked off. The buttered and toasted bun stood up to the ingredients and didn’t get soggy. While it was nicely cooked, it was under-seasoned. There was no heat to the chili and not a lot of flavor. I could take or leave the Fritos corn chips that were served on top.

The Bubba Burger is Bubba-sized.EXPAND
The Bubba Burger is Bubba-sized.
photo by Lorretta Ruggiero

The Bubba Burger was $11.95 and did not come with fries. Everyone else’s sandwiches were served with fries and my daughter’s side of fries was big enough for us to share. Still, for a nickel under twelve dollars, a handful of fries on the side would have been nice.

My husband and I split a 23 ounce Oso Bueno ($7) made by 11 Below Brewing. It was served cold in a tall pilsner glass. The 16 ounce pint is $6, so the better bargain is to get the bigger beer.

Get the bigger beer for $1 more.EXPAND
Get the bigger beer for $1 more.
photo by Lorretta Ruggiero

There are salads, tacos, fish entrees and steaks available as well as the sandwich and burger offerings. The from-scratch menu could benefit from a little more seasoning and a few tweaks to the dishes.

The locally-owned grill offers family-friendly dining but also a pleasant bar area for adults. It’s a welcome addition to a neighborhood that could use more dining and drinking options.

The owner came over and talked to us, and our server was attentive and friendly. The atmosphere was casual and comfortable. The large, back patio, which faces a green space rather than a parking lot, will make a great destination for the early days of fall.

First Look at R&R Crafthouse Grill in Cypress
photo by Lorretta Ruggiero

And those cooler days are coming. We promise.

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