What’s not to love about Rockit Bar and Grill in River North. NFL Sundays event series in the lounge upstairs? Check! Rockit Burger voted by Good Morning America as Best in the Nation? Double Check! A stylish, modern design featuring sculptures by local artists? Indeed!! Many would describe Rockit as the bar and grill for those that don’t do bar and grills. The space is upscale yet unusually laid back. Every Monday is Industry Night at this devoted foodie destination. Their popular TasteIT Series offers patrons a chance to explore selected wines at 1/2 price every Monday to compliment their outstanding dinner menu. Recently for the 1st time ever the team was inspired to created a dinner around the TasteIT concept and feature Chicago craft beer. They decided join forces with a brewery the staff described as the perfect partner for their inaugural beer spotlight – Chicago’s own Finch’s Beer Company.
Finch has had a lightning fast rise through the local craft beer scene. In only their second year they are already distributing in 10 states and are scheduled to produce 7000 barrels next year. Head Brewer Rich Grant is someone I’ve followed since his days at Flossmoor Station Brewery in the south burbs. Rich and brewer Mike Demetrus have an annual beer lineup that includes easy-to-find traditional styles, as well as monthly small batch releases for enthusiasts like me. Their Mahatma (curry IPA on cask) and the Sapsucker (California Common w/ rye) made quite the impression when we enjoyed them last year. The local beer community has taken notice as well. Finch’s Dirtier Bird, a superb doppelbock aged in Koval whiskey barrels took home a silver medal at the 9th Annual Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beers. Did I mention that they sell beer in 10 states? They were the first Illinois Craft Brewer to distribute in places like Kentucky. Finch entered The Bluegrass State months before Goose Island did this year. There is a happy balance of a strong focus on quality and integrity while maintaining growth and revenue. It’s a delicate balance that is executed very well. Not to mention the brewers are cool as hell, as we discovered sharing a table with Richard and Michael for the four-course pairing party.
Executive Chef Amanda Downing really has a winning situation with her recipes. Both the brunch and dinner menus at Rockit feature an outstanding contemporary twist on casual American cuisine. It was a pleasure to enjoy the harmony these beers created with her recommendations. We left inspired to want to recreate these pairings on our own. The pan roasted sea scallops was a personal favorite. But it was strictly business at our table when the Braised Beef Shortribs were served. Conversations slowed down, we lost each other for a moment with this dish. In fact we ordered another family style portion for the table when we ran out. This wasn’t your typical beer dinner, there were actually full pours with each entree (no sample sizes here, baby!) Also Amanda, Michael and Richard opted to go table-to-table and introduce each pairing. It was a classy touch that made the experience more personal. I look forward to seeing more events like this from the crew at Rockit. General Manager Mike Tinsley was genuinely excited to take this step in the evolution of his venue. There are plans to work with Half Acre and Argus Brewery in the future. The night ended with warm cinnamon sugar beignets paired Bourbon Caramel Cider, a concoction featuring Evan Willams Bourbon, salted caramel and organic cider. We didn’t want the night to end, our table ordered another round. We should do this every Monday. Well actually the TasteIT promotion of 50% off selected beer and wine is every Monday…. I think we just might.
Photos courtesy of Joseph Harvey
Special thanks to Rockit Bar & Grill located at 22 West Hubbard Street Chicago, IL
Here’s a look at the 4 pairings.
Golden Wing Blond Ale
moderately sweet malty aroma and is deep gold in color 4.7% ABV
with pan roasted sea scallops, pearled barley salad, apples, pine nuts, pomegranates
Threadless India Pale Ale
a darker amber color and finishes with a citrus flavor 6% ABV
with smoking goose garlic sausage, three bean cassoulet, braised pork belly
Facsist Pig Ale
a deep red malt forward brewed wit caramel malts a touch of rye and dry-hopped with Palisade and Zythos hops 8% ABV
with braised beef short ribs, thyme roasted carrots, bacon brussel sprouts, confit fingerling potato mash, caramelized onion gravy
Bourbon Caramel Cider
Evan Williams Bourbon, salter caramel and organic cider
with warm cinnamon sugar beignots