Evan David and Mike Saperstein

Charm City Burger Company's Evan David, left, and Mike Saperstein with the Burger Battle trophy (Charm City Burger Company / Courtesy / October 11, 2012)

Background: Evan David and Mike Saperstein are owners of the wildly successful Charm City Burger Company and El Jefe Luchador in Deerfield Beach. Earlier this year, they won Fort Lauderdale's annual Burger Battle. Rebel House is their first sit-down restaurant.

Overall impression: While the gastro-pub-style menu is ambitious in its scope, it's so unevenly executed that I'm surprised there's a chef in the kitchen. It's as if someone without any cooking experience was asked to re-create dishes that need a chef's hand. At times, there are too many disparate flavors working against each other in a single dish. The menu is divided into categories that include: Munchies; Raw, Cured and Fromage; and Eat Your Veggies. Most everything is meant for sharing.

Ambience: Rebel House feels more like a college bar than a full-service restaurant with oddball lighting fixtures, mismatched furniture and an open ceiling that feels unfinished. The music was so loud that it was near impossible for us to speak as a group without yelling.


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Starters: Some of the best items came from the Munchie section of the menu. Rebel bar nuts ($4), a mixture of cheddar cheese, bacon lardoons, pecans, pistachios and dried cranberries were oddly addicting, but you know they can't be good for your cholesterol. Mushroom-asparagus and Gouda spring rolls ($5) were another bar-food hit served with green-goddess dressing. Berkshire pork and green-chive dumplings with truffled Madeira-soy reduction ($8) tasted like overcooked fat modules.

Eat your veggies: Among the interesting takes on vegetable are sweet, grilled baby bok choy ($7) with miso caramel, garlic chips and blue cheese crumble. Crispy Brussels sprouts ($7) are served with a lemony confit, cubanelle peppers, balsamic and Parmesan.

Entree excellence: Among the so-called "Plates" is a dish called Rebel fried rice ($6 or $12), which reminded me of a rice hot pot — gone way wrong. Rice, bacon, corn, peas, carrots, onions, spicy mayo and a sunny-side-up egg are served in a pot, but each element fights against the other. It tastes more like a mishmash leftover created from what's in the fridge. Fried chicken ($12) had a bland batter. It was overcooked along with the cheddar corn-meal waffle. Mussel hot pot ($8 or $16) had good flavor in the beer-bacon-corn-tomato-lemon broth, but the mussels were puny. Braised brisket meatloaf ($13) looked like a log of ground beef from a microwaved meal rather than something prepared in a restaurant kitchen. Pairing it with sweet-potato-tzimmes puree might have been designed for nostalgia, but the result was just kind of sad. Rib-eye steak with garlic beurre de gascogne ($18) was another well-intentioned dish that fell apart in the restaurant. The beef was oddly soft.

Sweet! Like so much here, dessert feels thrown together. The Rebel sundae ($6) is a soupy combination of fried bananas, chocolate ice cream, vanilla ice cream, peanut-butter sauce and marshmallow fluff.

Service: Despite the volume of the music and the crowded restaurant, our server did a great job of delivering food and making sure we had what we needed.

— John Tanasychuk

jtanasychuk@tribune.com or 954-356-4632. Read his blog at SunSentinel.com/sup and follow him on Twitter at @FloridaEats.

297 E. Palmetto Park Road, Boca Raton

561-353-5888, LifeTastesBetter.com

Cuisine: American

Cost: Moderate-expensive

Hours: Dinner daily

Reservations: Suggested

Credit cards: AE, MC, V

Bar: Full service

Sound level: Extremely noisy

Outside smoking: No

Wheelchair accessible: Yes

Parking: Free lot or street parking