Rockit Bar and Grill turned me off from the beginning. When I first heard of it, the only people I knew who went there were those who loved to be seen and who loved to throw Billy Dec‘s name around.
I resisted happy hour invites and dinner overtures. Ignoring the menu’s possibilities, I wrote Rockit off as a haven for wannabes and Ed Hardy-wearing, too cool for school, urban singles. In short, not for me (it should be noted that my foodie credentials are fairly suspect. I am the guy, after all, who dared to pit Red Robin against Kuma’s).
What finally coaxed me through the door at 22 W. Hubbard? Repeat rave reviews of the burgers and truffle fries from friends who most certainly aren’t too cool for school or hipsteresque. These are people I trust. People who don’t know what “bottle service” is. People who go to bed before 11 p.m. on weekends. People who don’t equate status with the contents of their address books. The opposite of what I imagined the bar and grill’s clientele to be.
My son completed second grade today, and to celebrate, he wanted to “have lunch downtown.” Like any other eight year-old boy, he’s a sucker for a burger and fries. That in mind, my wife and I tossed him in the back of the family truckster and headed for River North.
We got there at 11:45, 15 minutes before the tables were fully loaded. I was impressed by the “lofty” look: exposed brick walls, tall leather booths, high ceilings with wood beams. It’s quite a comfortable space. We felt welcome the second we walked in.
To my relief, the crowd never got Ed Hardy-y. In fact, the lunch rush was dominated by business folk…doing business. Maybe some tourists were there, too. In all, a typical Monday lunch crowd in downtown Chicago.
My favorite cuisine is bar food, which made the Rockit menu
a welcome sight. My Reuben was sweet, tender, and big enough to force me to take half of it home in a carry-out tin. My wife’s Southwestern Chopped Salad was also the equivalent of two meals, though a bit disappointing in that it lacked any pepper taste or Southwestern “zing.”
My son went the burger route, adding bacon to his Black Angus burger. He gave eating it a good shot, but ended up taking 3/4 of the sandwich home.
He and I both ordered sweet potato fries on the side of our meals. Sweet potato fries are a risky order–usually they’re soggy, flavorless, or both. To Rockit’s credit, their fries were crisp and coated with just enough brown sugar salt to appropriately flavor them.
My waitress was quick to refill my Diet Coke without my asking, a hallmark of good service. I noticed after the fact, however, that I was charged for the refill. A dick move, for sure, but I didn’t feel like challenging it. It was only $2, and I probably would’ve ordered it anyway. Probably.
As much as I enjoyed my meal, I must concede that it was expensive. Avocado with the salad? $2. Bacon on the burger? $1. Sweet potato fries instead of regular fries? $1. “Double Dip” appetizer (goat cheese/tomato dip and white bean hummus)? $11.
In total, we ordered:
-Three sodas (two, actually)
-One milkshake (that would be for the 2nd grade graduate, of course)
…and the meal topped out at over $80, not including tip. For a family with one child in day care and another spending a summer at day camp, Rockit wasn’t the most affordable (or sane) choice.
Even so, throughout the meal, my son said talked about how “awesome” Rockit was, and how it was the best place to eat to celebrate his promotion to the third grade. Today was a special day for him, and our meal at Rockit made it more so. Money well spent. In my prejudicial mind, families with small children are the new Ed Hardy-wearers.