It was a grey, GREY day. Even the rain didn’t know whether it was coming or going, falling in drips and drabs as I made my way to Rocks Brewing Co. in Alexandria, where I was invited to have lunch. And if there was anything that could make a dreary day worthwhile, it was the promise of hot food.
After 15 minutes of navigation over puddles like I was a tightrope walker with no safety net, I finally located the brewery inside an industrial looking collection of office buildings. My heart started to fall into the pit of my empty stomach as I wondered if this was going to be just another grey office lunch to match the weather.
Wild Mushroom, Quinoa & Rocket Salad, $21
We left it up to the kitchen to feed us, and what came out was surprisingly vibrant. Traditionally, food made to match beers are heavy and stodgy – probably to match Mother England’s weather – but the Wild Mushroom, Quinoa and Rocket Salad was surprisingly light and tasted like it was nutritionally well-rounded. Not a very sexy description, I know, but between the scattered grains of quinoa, meaty mushrooms, fresh rocket and tart dressing, I really felt like I was eating my quota of vegetables in a very delightful way.
Both the Mac and Cheese and Louisiana Hot Wings also packed a punch – the mac and cheese with a satisfyingly creamy sauce laced with the sharp kick of blue cheese, and the hot wings covered in a finger licking hot and sour sauce. This is one of the first hot wings that didn’t actually need the dipping sauce – I’d actually recommend eating them without it since the combination seems to cancel out any flavour that the components have by themselves.
Louisiana Hot Wings, $13.50/$22
At this point, we knew that more was to come, but we kept picking at the food like fidgeting children. I mean, the last two mouthfuls of mac and cheese were just staring forlornly at me, looking like it had been abandoned. And just as I was about to put it out of its misery, along came the piece de resistance.
The Drunken Chicken involved a whole chicken, roasted upright, with a bed of vegetables and bread to soak up all the errant juices. Nothing was to go to waste here. The chicken, covered in skin that was such a gleaming golden brown that it looked like it just came back from a relaxing holiday in the tropics, was so piping hot that steam escaped from every cut I made. By itself, the meat was a touch dry, but that’s where the pan juices came in.
The use of beer gave it body like a Victoria’s Secret Model – sexy without being too in-your-face – and if I could I would just drink it all up in a glass. But their method was good too, with pieces of crusty bread soaking up the juices and turning into the most addictive type of savoury bread pudding, accented by creamy chunks of roasted pumpkin.
*insert Homer Simpson’s drool face here*
Of course, we can’t forget the beer at a brewery, and if you prefer to drink your beer rather than eat it, then they also have a selection of specialty beers for your drinking pleasure. The House Alerkolsch was an instant hit, with a sweet, clean finish that reminded me of a dry white wine. Very refreshing, and a perfect accompaniment to the roast chicken.
To finish, we had the Baked Oreo Cheesecake which, while executed nicely, didn’t make as big a splash as the lineup that came before it. The salted peanuts on the caramel sauce was my favourite bit of the whole thing, but the cheesecake itself was a touch common, considering all the creativity that I’ve come to expect in my short time here.
The rest of the menu is a great mix of creativity and old favourites – crunchy waffle fries sit right next to a pulled pork burger, and nothing looks to be terribly out of place. I’m looking forward to working my way through the menu on my subsequent visits – I think there’s a Cape Byron Tomahawk that’s calling my name.