|Reopened Mediterranean restaurant brings exotic flair to Uptown|
|Written by Kevin Pajor, Daily Vidette Staff Writer|
|Monday, 12 September 2011 18:23|
While Uptown Normal has hardly ever been devoid of good eats, students and local residents gained a great new option this summer, this time with the taste of the Mediterranean.
The Rock Restaurant, located on the same block as Jimmy John’s and the Normal Theater on North Street, is the latest addition to the already plentiful restaurant scene right off campus. With its varied and even eclectic menu, The Rock sets itself apart from other establishments.
Upon entering the place, one already becomes intrigued. There is some outdoor seating, and the sleek and minimalist branding of “RR” is bold and enticing. Its exterior is striking as well—this place certainly has ambiance. It’s warmly lit, the walls vaguely earthy (including some brick), and has nice chandeliers and a unique pale green ceiling. Near the register is a selection of before and after photographs, documenting the restaurant’s swift opening in the recent months.
The Rock, which bills itself as a “gyro & Lebanese cuisine” restaurant, is not lacking when it comes to variety. While gyros and falafel are certainly its specialty, The Rock also offers an array of salads, burgers, hummus, Italian beef, Philly cheese steak and hot dogs, just to name a few.
Near the counter are also some bakery options, and their appetizer menu, including your standard fried mozzarella, mushrooms, onion rings and jalapeno poppers, is surprisingly extensive.
On my visit, I stuck with my tried and true burger, but with a twist: the half-pound gyros cheeseburger is considered a “Rock Signature,” and it certainly delivered. While topped with the standard burger fare of lettuce, onion, mustard and ketchup, it also featured a generous helping of gyro meat and sauce.
It was a unique and satisfying meal, hearty but not too salty, which also included french fries—nice, crispy and warm.
My fellow diners on this occasion ordered the gyros and falafel, and unsurprisingly were not at all disappointed.
For its design and extensive menu, The Rock is a welcome addition to the Normal restaurant scene. Even for those who may not have the ambition to venture into Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine, The Rock offers plenty of other options. ISU students hailing from up north will appreciate their selection of Chicago foods as well.
Prices for menu items vary but a gyro with fries and a drink is $7.59. Salads range from $3.99 to $7.99 and gyro burgers range from $3.49 for a 6-ounce burger to $6.39 for a half-pound burger, according to their website.
Simply put, The Rock Restaurant on North Street has something for everyone.