Rockton Inn, Rockton, Illinois

(Her) I recently found myself at the Rockton Inn thanks to a comedy event that the darling hubby had put together.  While I didn’t get a chance to eat dinner there, I did get to peruse the menu and try a few appetizers and now I really wish I had eaten there. (If I have my way, we will be back and we will be hungrier)
The Rockton Inn’s website states “come experience the flavor of the tropics”  and boasts that you’ll feel like you’re dining on the islands.  I definitely did not get that vibe at all.  Was it supposed to be from the menu or the atmosphere? Which islands are we supposed to be transported to? Anyway, I think all of the above would have been cheesy in this location. What you get is a small historic building with three stories of dining.  I’m actually going to say 2 1/2 stories since the second “story” is more of an oversized stair landing.  The first level is decidedly more casual than the others and is overtaken by the large bar running from one end to the other. The aforementioned second level brings up the class a notch and is, like I said, an oversized but intimate stair landing.  The third level seems to be where all the dining action to be had is happening, has a small bar in the corner, and is where the ambiance was best.  I got very familiar with all the levels as I was lugging sound equipment up the stairs for the nights event, but I will say I appreciate that Tamara the owner, offered a few busboys if we needed them.  (note to owner–get rid of the hideous carpeting on the stairs; it’s not doing you any favors)
During the show, I checked out the menu and again…no island vibe.  Okay, admittedly I learned about this island thing later when I was home, but now that I know about it the concept irks me.  I was happy to see that there was a large range of prices represented on the menu, and there were plenty of things I wanted to try.  You could definitely see the French chef Pascal Cornieux’s influence all over the menu and perceptive one that I am, I later noted that he and Tammie share the same last name.
Long story short, I ordered the Deep Fried Shiitake Mushrooms and the Warm Artichoke Dip for our table to share.  I have nothing bad to say about either one. Both dishes were awesome.  The mushrooms were huge slices of Shiitake served with a sort of spicy French dressing.  The mushrooms had so much flavor, the sauce wasn’t really even necessary.  I guess I was expecting sort of a spinach and artichoke dip but what we got was much better.  The dip was a warm creamy cheese dip with occasional large pieces of artichoke.  My only complaint on this one was that we didn’t have enough of the crispy toasts to use all the cheese.  Side note: using the mushrooms to finish the cheese–doubly awesome.
I definitely had my doubts when I saw that our event was going to be on the third floor where everyone was already enjoying a fine meal and probably didn’t want to hear a bunch of fart jokes, but Rockton really proved us wrong.  The third floor worked well because of its comedy club vibe (compared to the first floor) and while they might get all dressed up to go eat a meal on a Saturday night, the people in Rockton were really laid back and had a great sense of humor. They weren’t there to get drunk and heckle, they really were there to enjoy a show.

I  hope  that for future events such as this one the owner keeps a few of the wait staff around to check on tables.  I think more drinks and apps would have been sold if she had treated the event in the same manner comedy clubs do and it would have been less disruptive to everyone.  A customer really shouldn’t have to go downstairs to order wine and then have to carry it back up himself.  I didn’t really understand the discrepancy in prices and sizes of drinks between the two bars either.  The comedians had to perform next to the stairs and there was a steady stream of people on the stairs at all times.  No one asked me if I wanted food or drinks.  I had to go to the bar to order  and once they were brought to me I really didn’t get any further attention.  I’m going to chalk that one up to inexperience with this type of event, but only because the food was so delicious.

Food 9      Value 7.23      Ambience (bipolar)      Meeting hubby’s old Hononegah high school friends….priceless

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2 responses to “Rockton Inn, Rockton, Illinois

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