I am always open to second chances.
I’m sure that’s why I’m considered by people who know me in person to be so “nice”– I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt and provide plenty of second chances. Now, once you’ve really ticked me off, you’ve lost that chance, but it takes a lot to do that.
I had eaten at The Rookwood a couple of times before. Once was about a year or so ago, and was a mixed experience. We went back with a large group that also was a mixed bag. The major problem I had was grease: both the burger and the pork belly sandwich I had were far greasier than they should have been, and it turned me off of The Rookwood for a while (and, let’s face it, there are lots of other places I needed to try). However, folks kepttelling me about how much they liked it– so I went back.
I didn’t just go back, I took my mom. For her birthday. I was definitely taking a risk.
You see, Mom used to come up here when it was the Rookwood Pottery during her days as a season ticket holder for the Bengals. She liked it then, and she liked it as Porkopolis, but she hadn’t been up there in ages. She was excited to maybe sit in a kiln (we didn’t) and to see the beautiful view of the city and river (we did).
She was excited to try their cocktails, as I’d told her about Romm Wells and all of the fun stuff he does. Mom doesn’t like bourbon or other dark liquors, so I ordered her a Les Fleurs de Mal, a twist on a French 75: champagne,absinthe-soaked sugar cube, Hendrick’s and rose syrup (will I be making this at home? Oh yes). She really liked it– she’s a big fan of champagne and had never had a cocktail made with it. I picked up a Tailored Misfit: Bulleit Bourbon, Luxardo Maraschino, Carpano Punt y Mes, and a spiced bourbon-soaked fig. It was essentially a take on a Manhattan and it, too was great.
We wanted appetizers (to start soaking up the alcohol), so we settled on olives and deviled eggs. The olives were nice– I believe they’re house cured– and the deviled eggs were good, topped with “Grippo dust” and bacon. At $9 for six deviled egg halves, I probably won’t order them again, but they were fun.
We each ordered a sandwich as well. Mom went with the Rookwood Club, which is a fun twist on a club sandwich: they deep-fry the turkey, roast the tomatoes, the ham is local, and they use guacamole instead of mayonnaise. She really liked it, and had half to take home.
I went for the Torta Cubana. I loved the filling– very moist, fried pork loin (reminiscent of the Indiana-style fried pork loin my friend Natalie is always trying to find– found it!), ham, Swiss cheese, their house-made pickles and a spicy aioli. My only slight disappointment was that the bread was the same as the club. It would have been even better on a crustier bread. I’d definitely order it again.
My favorite part of the meal, though, were the Grippos fries. I’m still not quite sold on the $5 upcharge, but the spicy-sweet coating on the perfectly cooked fries made me realize that I’d probably be handing over several 5-spots in the future, as these were addictively good and a new addition to my list for best fries in the city. Am I a sucker? Yes. For tasty, tasty fries.
And this is why I give second chances: sometimes they don’t work out so well (a certain barbecue place I’ve been to half a dozen times and still don’t understand the fuss about…) and sometimes they turn out like Rookwood, where they stumbled the first couple of times but ended up impressing.