Rockit Bar & Grill – River North, Chicago
I’ve never been a real trendy person, but when it comes to food, I do like to find the newest, greatest thing. In my hometown, I’m pretty good at sniffing out new restaurants. In Chicago. Not so much. Getting into the hot restaurants in Chicago can be a pain. Even when it’s something a simple as a pub (ie. Kuma’s Corner).
Thanksgiving weekend has become a sort of tradition for J and I to go downtown with my brother and his wife. This year, we took my parents. A few months ago at my bachelor party, we walked from the South Loop to The Billy Goat Tavern for drinks. The whole way, my dad was looking up and was sort of in awe of the surroundings. Later, he told me he had never been downtown at night and was impressed by the lights. We figured if he was impressed on some random Saturday night in September, he would get a kick out of the Christmas lights on the Mag Mile.
So, we did the shopping thing. It was a mess. There were so many people we couldn’t get into most stores and if we could, it was really hard to do any actual shopping. Last year, it was fun. This year, it was a headache. Still, we hit all the stores we wanted then headed for our dinner reservation. My GPS couldn’t get a signal downtown, so I was going from memory and off my brother’s I-Phone. We got where we were going about 20 minutes before our reservation, so we didn’t do to bad.
Rockit Bar & Grill is one of the hot new restaurants in Chicago’s River North neighborhood. For those of you only vaguely familiar with the city, it’s still pretty much downtown. It’s just a few blocks from the main shopping district on Michigan Avenue. The building is an old lamp factory that has been converted into a bar. The interior design was done by Nate Berkus of Oprah fame.
You enter at street level where there are a few pub tables next to the windows. The hostess station is up a small flight of stairs. Immediately to your right is the bar with a few more pub tables. Farther back is the dining room.
Our reservation was at 6:00. We walked in about 5:40. The hostesses had our table put together and waiting. Groups of six must be rare at Rockit. They do their reservations through OpenTable, but the max you can do there is four. My brother had to call to get a group of six. The table we were at is a four top that had flaps that could be unfolded to make it a six top.
The look is very industrial and very cool looking. The lighting is dimmed and the floors are scuffed up from years of use. The menus looked like they were made from old album jackets. Everyone’s menu looked different.
We started simple with drinks. I was going to get a beer, but the waiter informed us that the beer taps were broke, so they didn’t have any draft beer. The beer I wanted was only on draft, so I reverted back to a pop. They serve RC Cola which is a little wierd, but you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference if they didn’t tell you. J, my brother and sister-in-law got Diet Rite’s, and my mom and dad stuck with water.
We didn’t branch out much for dinner. I let my dad and brother pick the restaurant from a list and this is what they settled on. We all figured there was enough variety on the menu that we would all be happy. There was so much variety in fact that my dad, brother, sister-in-law and I all got the Black Angus Bruger. My brother and I got ours with Roquefort Bleu Cheese. My dad and sister-in-law got cheddar. My burger was medium. Everyone else’s was medium-well. The burgers came on a pretzel roll with steak fries. The burger was delicious. There were big chunks of bleu cheese and it was a really juicy burger. My brother had never had the pretzel roll and he was a big fan. My dad didn’t say anything which is always a good sign. My sister-in-law only ate about half of hers then took the rest home. We were all really happy with the burger and all left stuffed barely able or not able to finish the fries on our plates.
I’m gonna side bar here really quick just to explain their signature burger. I was really tempted to order the Rockit Burger which was recently voted “Best Burger in America” by Good Morning America. It’s a Kobe beef patty with melted brie, fried shallots, medjool date aioli on a red onion brioche bun that is served with truffle fries. I do love Kobe beef, but the $19 price tag scared me off. It shouldn’t have because the burger I got was already $13. Had I added truffle fries to my Angus Burger, it would have been an extra $3 bringing the price up to $16, so it was only another $3 for a Kobe beef patty. In hindsight, I may have made the wrong choice, but what I had was still delicious and worth every penny.
J ordered the BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich. The pork was served with a leaf of lettuce and cole slaw on the side plus fries. She went ahead and made in a Carolina style pulled pork and put the slaw on the sandwich. The pulled pork was more of a pureed pork than a traditional hand pulled meat. The menu says it was smoked, but at some point, it was very finely shredded and mixed in with a thick BBQ. She liked the sandwich and ate pretty much off all it, so there’s no complaints.
My mom surprised us all and ordered the Southwestern Chopped Salad. She saw a table with a salad on the way in and thought it looked good, so she got it. The plate was huge. It was filled with romaine lettuce, BBQ chicken, corn, monterey jack cheese, cheddar cheese, tomatoes, chili peanuts and a jalapeno ranch dressing. She really liked the salad. I’m still surprised to hear myself say that. I don’t ever remember my mom ordering a salad as an entree at a restaurant, but she was impressed.
The wait staff was great. We always had full glasses and they even refilled the ketchup for my brother when they noticed he was running low. They put little cups on the plates and when my brother got about half done with his, a waiter set another one down on the table next to him.
Our bill, with tip, was just over $113. They included a 20% gratuity. I’m assuming that’s because we were a party of six. It made it easy for us. I’m not complaining about that. I’m sure that’s about what we would have tipped anyway.
We really liked Rockit Bar & Grill. Yeah, we all got burgers and the bill was still over $100 for six people, but this is one of the places to be right now. We didn’t know that when we made the reservations, but found out soon after. Rockit Bar & Grill is worth the short walk from the Mag Mile if you’re in town shopping. The atmosphere mixed with the great food is a winning combination.