A rainy Saturday morning and a birthday gal back in town! We had a hard time thinking of a place to go in the neighborhood, given Becky’s limited schedule. We remembered the newly-remodeled Rocks Lakeview, which had just reopened after a massive fire this past February. We are happy to see a beloved neighborhood staple get back on its feet.
Setting the Scene
After a leisurely morning snuggling and setting up our Facebook page, (about time, right?), we ventured out into the rainy November day. We arrived at around 11:30 am, to a full, but not crowded, restaurant. The vibe was easy-going and low-key, with a buzz of conversation and not-too-loud music. The many TVs were showing college football games, with good views wherever you sat. A TouchTunes unit offered a wide variety of customer-driven music. We heard everything from Beyoncé to the Jackson Five to the standard Top 40. We were greeted immediately by the friendly staff and by one of our favorite bartenders from previous restaurants, Ali. We were delighted that she had returned to the neighborhood!
The crowd, which steadily picked up from noon on, was a perfect cross-section of the neighborhood: dads getting a burger and beer, sports bros catching the games, post-yoga girls brunch, young urban professionals gathering at large tables to watch their alma mater, and the hungover, besweatpantsed gay dudes looking for a no-judgment brunch.
Amenities and Accessibility
With Broadway FINALLY repaved, and the sidewalk ramps repaired, accessibility has returned to this section of the neighborhood. Rocks itself has a sidewalk-level entrance and roomy accessible bathrooms. The storm door at the entrance requires a strong pull to open, which might prove to be an obstacle. It thwarted more than a few patrons on their way in. There are high-top tables as well as standard tables. The patio, when in season, has high-tops out front and standard tables on the patio south of the restaurant.
Food and Drink
Rocks’ brunch runs Saturday and Sunday from 10am-3pm, and has the following drink deals: $15 Mimosa pitchers, a variety of $20 Specialty Mimosa Pitchers (all of which had way too many ingredients for us to even think about drinking), $7.50 Boss Hogg Bloody Marys, and $5 Man-mosas, which are made “manly” by a float of gran gala orange liqueur. Ok.
The champagne is our favorite, Wycliff, and the orange juice was generously poured and not too acidic. The food menu is dominated by lunch offerings, including almost a dozen burgers, sandwiches, appetizers, and salads. The breakfast portion of the menu is much smaller, but includes egg-driven staples and meat-eaters’ delights like chicken and waffles and steak and eggs.
Jodie ordered the steak and eggs: a 6 oz peppercorn crusted hangar steak, cooked to order, two eggs your way, and a side of crispy tater smash. The steak was a perfect medium-rare, sparkling with pepper. The eggs were a fluffy scramble, and did require some salt and pepper to enhance their flavor. The crispy tater smash was disappointing. It had great flavor from the peppers and onions but lacked any of the expected crispy texture from the tater tots. They were greasy and heavy, with no defining texture.
Becky decided to stay in the breakfast realm (eggs are her favorite), and ordered the Ultimate Breakfast Sandwich. Besides the avocado on this sandwich, she wasn’t convinced it was the “ultimate,” but it had enough to sate her hunger. The flavors were good – eggs, pico de gallo, cheese, and avocado – but the ciabatta could have been toasted harder to provide a crisp textural contrast to the other ingredients. Becky personally would prefer an egg over easy as well, which if cooked correctly, would give a creamy sauce-like component to the dish (she doesn’t love mayo, so asked for the jalapeño mayo on the side), and would have liked more of a cheese presence. She also agreed whole-heartedly with Jodie’s assessment of the crispy tater smash in its lack of crisp and sogginess – next time she would go with the crispy curly fries or sweet potato fries from the lunch side of the menu.
Half-Priced Appetizers (after 10pm), for those recovering from a raging Sunday Funday.
Their Instagram. It is always delightfully on point.
Lunch and happy hour specials throughout the week – there’s something for everyone.
The abundant local love. We weren’t the only ones expressing happiness at the reopening of this neighborhood staple. Almost every one of our bar neighbors said something along the lines of “We’re so happy Rocks is back!”
Our bae-tender, Ali. We are tickled that she is back working in the neighborhood. It’s always nice to see a friendly and familiar face!
The atmosphere generated by both patrons and staff is a huge selling point. The easy-going vibe lacked pretension and really made us feel comfortable and welcome. It’s kinda like this, but in a restaurant. Food and drink prices were comparable to other spots in the neighborhood. There is room for improvement on the food, even though it’s your standard pub fare, but it’s possible they’re still finding their legs a few weeks into being reopened. While Rocks isn’t a typical brunch place (it’s not their specialty) they earned a solid 8 out of 10 mimosas for a truly pleasant brunch experience. We will definitely be returning and bringing friends.
Pro Tips – Optimize Your Experience
- Get there early on game days: professional or college. It is a sports bar, so be sure to check game times for Chicago’s sportsball teams to ensure you get a good seat.
- If you like bourbon, burgers, and neighborhood pub camaraderie, this is the bar for you.
- They have plenty of space and seating for large groups, and a varied enough menu to please most patrons. From what we can see, they don’t seem to take reservations, but they do have party booking available.
- Rocks is located on the Chicago Marathon route. If you’re in the city during October, make the time to sit on their patio and cheer on the runners. Jodie had a runner dressed as Harlequin take a slug of her mimosa mid-stride. Truly magical.