Friday, December 6, 2013

The Rookwood Bar & Restaurant

Fun, historic location with good service and mediocre food

Entrance to The Rookwood Bar & Restaurant
Bar Area and Kiln

     After a charming event at the Cincinnati Art Museum, we decided to eat at The Rookwood Bar & Restaurant partly because it was close by on Mount Adams and because we haven’t eaten at the various restaurants that have occupied the space.  As Katherine said, it’s a place that she’s dropped by for drinks and appetizers.  It’s a historic interior because it surrounds the giant kilns
where Rookwood pottery created some of the most remarkable art ceramics of the early 20th century.  

Dining Room in the Kiln

     We looked around the adjacent kiln at the various chalk drawings and paintings of rooks while examining the menu.  Our server was friendly and willing to describe dishes more thoroughly as well as making recommendations.  Everything was going smoothly.
Dexter Checks Out the Carved Rook on the Chairs

And then came the food . . . 

Housemade Pastrami Sandwich
     Nothing was hot.  In fact everything was lukewarm, but we hadn’t had to wait so I couldn’t understand it.  We ordered the Housemade Pastrami Sandwich with stout mustard, house giardinera (pickled vegetables) on marble rye with celery root kraut and fresh cut kennebeck fries.  There are two elements that have to work for a reuben, or corned beef, or pastrami sandwich:  it must be firm and dry with lean meat.  This failed on both counts.  It was so soggy that it was difficult to eat with my hands and the meat was chewy/fatty.  I don’t know why since I’d just ordered it, but that kraut was practically liquefied.

Shaved Brussels Sprouts Agrodolce

     Neil shared the Shaved Brussels Sprouts Agrodolce (sour/sweet), Spanish chorizo (the pieces weren’t large enough to really notice), and roasted date vinegar.  It was pretty good, but it wasn’t in the same league as similar sprouts dishes at Enoteca Emilia and Moerlein Lager House.

Dressed Hanky Pankys
     Katherine selected the Dressed Hanky Pankys made with Glier’s Goetta folded into Emmentaler Béchamel on marble rye.  Katherine wondered what it would be like and I said, “S*** on a shingle” – a colloquial dish that generally tastes better than it looks.  Actually, this version resembled Barf on Bark.  It tasted okay, but the Emmentaler neutralized, rather than enhancing, the flavor of the goetta.  It also lost the texture of the goetta completely.  The bread was dry.  Our waitress said that the menu is new and there have been changes.  I’d take this dish off it immediately.

     So, it’s an enviable location, coolly decorated, with good service, and a nice beverage list.  However, the food needs to be re-thought and better prepared.  Right now, Incline House, Moerlein Lager House, Wurst Bar in the Square, and Senate are presenting upscale and dynamic versions of bar food.  Rookwood Commons isn’t in their league.

The Rookwood Bar & Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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