Rock on Third is pretty much as close to an ideal neighborhood bar as you can find – friendly bartenders, cheap drinks and plenty of TVs. Interestingly, Rock on Third has a pretty awesome food selection as well. Like many restaurants of its ilk, Rock on Third has a sports bar feel according to their menu. However, once the words "sports bar" are uttered, mediocrity is expected. Dry burgers, lots of deep-fried everything, and a bunch of sandwiches with no care given to ingredients come to mind. It may sound clichéd, but Rock is different.
Even the first appetizer on the menu – the "Warm-up Platter," is a step above every other appetizer sampler on other sports bars menus. Sure, there are wings (try the lava if you like fiery heat), chicken strips and potato skins, BUT there is also kielbasa and assorted cheese and peppers. Naturally, this bumps the platter up to the next level and makes it perfect for game-time sharing.
Pizza is also for sharing. I was thoroughly surprised at the pizza. While it didn't have a crispy crust I prefer, it was charred and chewy which I can appreciate, too. Fresh tasting sauce, lots of cheese, and plenty of toppings round out a balanced pie that is really quite good. With thinner pizzas, you're bound to end up with soggy slices if you load up on toppings. Rock's pizza has enough body to hold as much you want to pile on.
Rock's Reuben is also no joke. What looks like well over a half pound of house-made corned beef is stuffed between two thick slices of rye bread along with Swiss cheese, cooked sauerkraut, special dressing and served with fries. The sandwich is totally good – the bread is grilled really well, the cheese is melted, beef is tender and sauerkraut is funky. It's really a classic combination of flavors. The fries on the plate aren't slouches either. Going a step beyond what is expected from a sports bar, Rock hand-cuts all of their fries.
For something a little different (maybe even upscale?), try the steak bits, bite-sized pieces of tenderloin served in your choice of sauce. If you're into spicy foods, try the original sauce, which is made in house. Equal parts savory and spicy, the sauce accentuates the meat and should definitely be sopped up with the garlic bread on the plate once the meat is gone.
Even if your food is great, people will not walk through the bar doors without a decent booze selection. No need to worry. Rock has a full bar and an impressive beer selection. On my visit, there were at least four Michigan beers on tap and plenty of bottles and cans to choose from.
I mentioned the hand-cut fries, but it should be known that Rock also makes their own sauces – and most of the other dishes are made in house too. Although I didn't try it, I understand "Corradi's Bolognese" is legendary on the tortellini or spaghetti. A neighborhood pub with a killer Bolognese? That's Rock on Third – shattering your preconceived notions one steak bite at a time. | RDW