Situated on prime riverfront real estate just across from the Henry Avenue bridge, the Rock Bar and Grill in Beloit is an interesting establishment. Along with the ability to host volleyball tournaments or cater private events in the bar’s pavilion, it allows patrons to pull up in their boats and even bring along their dogs.
When we visited recently, we saw a large pooch happily leading its owner for an evening stroll on one of the bar’s two patios. We also learned the place often hosts great local events such as live music, trivia and screenings for entries to the Beloit International Film Festival.
The restaurant has a contemporary feel and is decorated with water crafts. A large canoe hangs from the exposed ceiling, and a sweet canoe-shaped bookcase greets visitors at the door. Although there was plenty of room inside, it was a beautiful evening, so we decided to sit out on the patio. While it was busy, things weren’t crazy, and the wait staff was quite attentive.
Sitting under a brilliant red umbrella and enjoying a panoramic view of the river, we began looking over the menu.
For the craft beer lover, there is an amazing selection of 18 beers (which is rotated often) on tap, so check the bar’s website to see what is currently on the list. There are also drink specials each night of the week that are also listed on the website.
During our visit, the Rock was highlighting summer cocktails that looked quite refreshing. We noted that most of the specialty drinks featured Sierra Mist as the mixer, and our server was very accommodating when we asked the bartender to go light on the soda.
I started with a mojito ($5.50), which was nice and minty. Helene tried the cucumber press ($4), which was dry and had a lovely, pronounced cucumber flavor.
We started with the combo platter appetizer ($9.99) that consisted of some of the bar’s most popular items. Creamy artichoke dip was a winner, and the crispy onion rings were another of our favorites.
Boneless wings are a house specialty, and they are featured in an assortment of marinades. We wanted to try two, so our server suggested we get the wings plain and add the sauces on the side for dipping. We opted for the mango habanero, which had quite a kick, and the Rock’d Up, which was a sweet chili sauce. Both were also good with the cheese curds that came as part of the combo.
For my entrée, I ordered the pulled pork sandwich ($9.99), which was more smoky than saucy. The meat was heaped and topped with coleslaw and those yummy onion rings. My side order of fries also was plentiful and tasty. After the appetizer indulgence, most of this came home for a great lunch the next day.
Jennifer selected the Caprese chicken signature sandwich ($9.99), substituting sweet potato fries ($1) for the regular fries and adding a side of crispy, creamy coleslaw ($1.49).
The chicken came either crispy or grilled, so she chose grilled. Served open-faced on a cold bakery bun, the chicken was topped with melted mozzarella, a slice of ripened tomato, fresh spinach and a drizzle of basil mayonnaise.
Jennifer said she would have preferred a warm bun and added the chicken was a little dry and chewy, but she found the basil mayo had great flavor that greatly helped moisten the sandwich. She also loved the addition of the fresh spinach, and she adored the sweet potato fries, which were perfectly prepared.
Helene opted for the blue bayou burger ($11.99) with a coleslaw side and accompanying pickle spear. The burger came as she requested—medium rare—with two strips of bacon crisscrossed over the burger, blue cheese crumbles and wonderful sautéed onions. Although the burger was flavorful, she said it was rather dry. The diced, crunchy coleslaw had a nice hint of horseradish that complemented the burger.
Nikki was looking for something on the lighter side, so she ordered the grilled salmon wrap ($13.99). With chopped greens, red peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes all bundled together with flaky salmon in a tomato tortilla, it was a fresh and colorful dish. It also featured the basil mayonnaise Jennifer raved about.
When we finished our meals, we lingered for a little bit to enjoy the view. I was curious about the bar’s history and learned its prime location was the former site of Waverly Beach.
I truly enjoyed seeing the historical photos that decorate the Rock Bar and Grill’s walls, sharing so many stories and memories of a happy time in Beloit history.