I think one of my very first dates in high school was at the Rookwood. In fact, I’m fairly sure my date’s mom reads wine me, dine me in Metromix (Hi, Mrs. B!). You see, this West Side girl dated boys who went to St. Xavier, and most of them were East siders. This is why, I think, to this day, I can get around a very limited amount of the West side and know the East side like the back of my hand.
Okay, I know, Rookwood isn’t really on the East side, but hey, to a 17 year old, it counted. I remember eating in one of the kilns (so cool at the time!), but I don’ t remember the meal. Once it closed as the Rookwood Pottery, it reopened as Porkopolis and quickly closed. The Rookwood is its most recent incarnation, and several people at my office emphasized how much I NEEDED to try it. We finally did.
The Rookwood’s concept is fresh and local– a trend I’m happy chefs are embracing. They have their own garden, pickle their own vegetables and fruits, make their own bitters and charcuterie.
We ended up there on a Tuesday night– it was quiet. We got a table in the dark, rustic-looking restaurant near the “pickling bar”, where they hope to display their homemade pickles and preserves.
We started off with drinks– a beer for Terry, an Aviation for me. They do a *mean* cocktail– fresh ingredients (no bar mix!) and a mix of the clever and new with the traditional.
We moved on to appetizers– we tried two: the first, mussels marinara and “hanky pankies”. The mussels were covered in a red pepper and garlic-heavy sauce, and paired with freshly grilled bread. It was simple and good– and the portion was large enough that we could have made it an entree. This was a special, but something they were thinking of adding to the menu.
The hanky pankies were fun. They were a staple at holiday parties in my family, but pretty humble– velveeta, sausage and worcestershire melted together and baked on top of party rye. They made this more delicious and distinctly Cincinnati– they use goetta instead of sausage, and add jalapenos and a cheddar cheese sauce. They’re not baked, so they’re a bit runny– but they made me rethink my negative attitude towards hanky panky. They’re addictive, and great for munching at the bar with a cocktail.
We each got a sandwich for dinner– I got the Erkenbrecherburger, on the recommendation of several coworkers. The burger, with thick slices of bacon and cheddar was well seasoned, and the bun was significant (but not too bready), but the burger was very greasy– a pool was on the plate. It was very flavorful, but I am assured that the greasiness is not a normal occurance– I will try it again, because again, the flavors were great.
Terry got a fish sandwich, beer-battered with homemade tartar sauce. It was good, but the downfall was the bread– white sandwich bread. Though it was good quality, a bun or something more substantial would have been a better choice.
Overall, we liked our experience– we particularly would return for a meal of appetizers and their killer cocktails. I’m looking forward to trying more of their pickles and charcuterie, too.