Review: The Rookwood

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.

The Rookwood Bar & Restaurant on Urbanspoon

  • http://www.awwdip.com Evan

    While I really like going to The Rookwood, I think I am going to just order some apps and a cocktail, foregoing their whole entree section. The sandwiches are decently priced, but I have been consistently underwhelmed with the quality. The last time I was there I had the Erkenbrecherburger, and it was a hot greasy mess. I had to resort to eating with with a knife and fork since the bun absorbed all the grease and was, for all intents and purposes, inedible. The visit before, I had some steak sandwich, and it was a train wreck. The steak was cold and chewy, the toppings wilted… I was embarrassed for them.

    I haven’t tried anything from the “real” entree section, but the price jumps from ~$10/sandwich to ~$20+/entree. They lack any options in a $15-20 range, which is disappointing to me. I would be willing to try the higher priced entrees, but with the subpar quality of the sandwiches I can’t bring myself to do it.
    .-= Evan´s last blog ..Hi ho =-.

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  • WestsideChick

    …just so you know, the Chef is from the Westside, the BEST side!

  • gary

    rookwood? how about a cheesburger [NO FRIES} and one rum and coke,,,$19.10 total,,enough said,,

  • RB

    I’ve dined there three times and although the space is incredible, the menu was not very impressive. The prices were reasonable but I expected more enticing and creative choices. The food was good but not outstanding and service was unmemorable. Thanks for your post, Julie; it seems they’ve stepped things up a notch since my last visit & I’m looking forward to going back to try some things from the pickling bar. I saw their website is currently under construction so hopefully a new menu is underway!

  • joe Neiheisel

    No doubt the best customer experience in town – these guys take care of you like an old friend – gets better every time – great drinks – great food – great place. Thanks for creating such a wonderful space – you guys are the best.

  • Jim Smalls

    Blown away by the new menu. Jeremy, former executive chef from Boca, is now running the show. New food was best in the city. Prices are a bit high but was well worth it.

  • Peter Shoemaker

    I went there this week and was very impressed. Have been there a few times in the past year and came out with mixed reviews. This last time I was extremely pleased with the new changes. The menu was changed up and all new drinks. I agree with Jim how the food was amazing. Boca quality and decent prices. I had the roast beef sandwich and the pizza app. The bartender was very helpful and made me an cocktail that was great. The design was changed and I like the feel. I will be back.

  • JCD

    The term ‘fresh and local’ is becoming rather meaningless, dontcha think? From the description of your meal, I would guess the fresh, local stuff was goetta that was processed into a cube in Covington and maybe a parsley garnish from their garden. I sure as hell hope the mussels weren’t local.

  • Jordy

    I work there. Try the roast beef sandwich and the house salad. Amazing. Not to mention the Chili.

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