Wednesday, April 4, 2012

On the Rox Bar & Grille

On the Rox, 119 North 18th Street, Richmond

Karisa: I've heard a lot about On The Rox since the owners are part of my social sports leagues, and I'd been once before during the Super Bowl. During the game, there was a flat price for all the food and booze you consume. Unfortunately, all of the food was Karisa unfriendly. I had a flashback to that evening while I perused the On The Rox brunch menu. Nothing. Well, there was granola and yogurt, but who wants that during a fun brunch? Not me. Fortunately (and very awesomely!) the chef came out and asked what I like in my brunching foods - he even remembered me from doing the same thing during the game! We chatted, I told him of my love for poached eggs, and he suggested the Chorizo, Fried Potatoes, Poached Eggs, BĂ©arnaise, minus the chorizo, add greens. Who am I to argue with the chef? No one. The egg yolks were the right amount of runny, the sauce tasty, and the drizzling of sriracha quite welcome. My only desire was for the potatoes to be cut with a slightly larger dice. They tasted like wonderfully cooked cut up crispy french fries, but a bit more fluff would be welcome, if only for ease of eating.

Andrea: I was excited to try On the Rox because it's one of the few brunch spots in my neighborhood. I was a big fan of the mimosa and the fries we all shared, but I wasn't as enthralled with my banana and bacon waffles. They looked like mini Eggos and were tastier than the store-bought variety, but weren't very warm by the time they made it out to me. I wished the bananas had been slightly riper, but the caramelization on the banana and the quality of the bacon were good. I'd come back for drinks or nibbles during a game, but I wasn't sold on making On the Rox a mainstay in my brunch rotation.

Michelle: I ordered my Bloody Mary and water first thing. On the Rox has a make-your-own Bloody Mary bar, which can sometimes be fun. I received my glass of vodka, and I was surprised to see it come with salt and Old Bay on the rim. Exciting! I made my drink with a brand of mix that I can't remember anymore, Worstershire sauce, more Old Bay, a dash of hot sauce, a celery stick, and 2 green olives. I liked my drink alright (pat on the back), but the Old Bay on the rim was a little off. I think I prefer salt and pepper on the rim.

We ordered fries as an appetizer, served Belgian style in a paper cone with fancy sauces.  Our waitress could only tell us what three of the four sauces were. In any case, I think I liked the mystery sauce the best, with the curry sauce coming in second. The fries were seasoned well with salt and green herbs.

For my meal I ordered the hash with chorizo, fried potatoes, poached eggs, and Bearnaise sauce. I also asked for a little side salad of mixed greens because I felt like I needed some vegetables. My plate arrived, two poached eggs on top of wilted spinach on top of a mix of small potato and sausage cubes. I don't know what happened to my side salad, and now that I think about it, I can't remember if there was Bearnaise on it or not. The egg yolks were nice and runny, so that added moisture to the plate. The dish was tasty, but a little awkward to eat. I think it probably would have been easier to eat the sausage and potato hash with a spoon, that's how small the cubes were.

Overall I enjoyed my food at On the Rox. The fries were bangin', and I liked the flavors of my meal. I was disappointed with the service from our waitress who forgot my water and side salad and who wasn't very knowledgable about the menu. We did however get visited at our table by the owner more than once. On the Rox feels more like a bar than a restaurant to me. I can see myself coming back for a couple of beers and some fries for a happy hour, especially on a nice evening when they have the large front windows open.

Marin: It may be called On the ROX, but this critic is not on the fence - I thoroughly enjoyed my brunching experience here! We started with an appetizer of french fries, which came seasoned to a T and served alongside many and various palate-watering dipping sauces, including a sriracha sauce and a sauce combining ketchup and mustard, cheekily dubbed "Fancy Sauce." I ordered "chicken salad" thinking I was ordering the panini, so when the waitress (quite naturally!) set a plate in front of me consisting of a bed of spinach greens topped with nothing but chicken strips I was mightily disappointed. Sheepishly I confessed to her my intention to order the sandwich, and though she made it a point to remind me that I had not initially so specified, she quite speedily plopped in front of me my replacement dish. And boy, am I glad I spoke up! The chicken salad panini was delightful! The chicken was moist and tender and the chef's choice of additional ingredients complimented each other quite well, producing a mild but indisputably satisfying overall blend. Added bonus: it came with more fries. As for the mimosa, it was scrumptious; it was served in a pitcher with an ice insert, so it retained its flavor throughout the meal; and we drank it out of stemless wine glasses, which perfectly suited the venue's casual and youthful ambiance. Two points about the overall dining experience. First, a postive: the chef came by our table multiple times, including once to inquire about one bruncher's vegetarian specifications and once to ensure we were enjoying our fare. And second, a curiosity: while I certainly wouldn't complain about the atmosphere, it was difficult to pinpoint exactly what the venue aspired to be (so much space, so little decor!), and I couldn't help but feel that On the ROX was actually a sports bar that had forgotten to install TVs. Overall, however, a welcome new addition to the Church Hill dining scene to which this neighborhood resident will certainly return.

Shannon, Crash Guest Bruncher: I ordered the chicken salad sandwich (or so I thought), however what came out was a chicken salad. The owner and waitress remedied the situation quickly, and without a problem. The food was good, but the waitstaff service was a little slow. That being said, the owner and chef were very attentive. The chef came to the table initially to determine what vegetarian dish best suited Karisa, which is not something I've ever seen at any other restaurant. Then they stopped by to be sure the food was good and socialize a little. The food at On The Rox is not exactly my style, but that is nothing more than personal preference. Overall it was a good experience.

Rating: 3
Food - Good. Not much variety on the menu, especially on the vegetarian side of the world, but the chef was super accommodating. The fries were a standout. Bacon lovers will be happy here.
Service - Good. The waitress was attentive. The chef came out to chat with us to make sure we were having a good meal, which was really nice.
Ambiance - Good. The exposed brick on the wall is beautiful. Several TVs adorn the walls but otherwise the decor is relatively minimal.
Coffee - Fair. I appreciated that they don't have the typical big pot o' drip coffee, but that meant that it took longer to individually make everyone's coffee, which kinda cramped my style.
Mimosa - Very Good. For the money, you get a lot in the pitcher that contains an ice core so there aren't any cubes watering down your drink. The orange juice/bubbly ratio was perfect for me. I had to persuade Karisa to give it the rating because she's gotten used to the traditional Richmond iced version.
Bloody Mary - Good. Since it was make-your-own, I did a good job mixing my cocktail this week. The Old Bay on the rim threw the flavor off for me.

On the Rox Bar and Grille on Urbanspoon

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