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Rock City Eatery: Mac & Cheese to Duck Fat Fries

By: Toni Cunningham | October 16, 2013

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re aware that Rock City Eatery, the brainchild of Rock City Pies’ Nikita Santches, is now open.

The full-service restaurant has been a work in progress for several months, and finally opened its doors in late September. Rock City Eatery, located at 11411 Joseph Campau, Hamtramck, was a long, tiring process, according to Santches, but he managed to pull everything together in a matter of months.

The food itself is the star at Rock City Eatery. Unlike most restaurants that have a standard menu, the one here will change weekly depending on the season and what ingredients Santches finds inspiring at the time.

“The food that I serve at Rock City Eatery I would say is New American,” Santches said. “That means I have some traditional dishes that I have modernized and some dishes that are completely new.”

One such dish is Santches’ signature mac and cheese, which is served in a Parmesan bowl. That’s right, an edible bowl made of crispy cheese, filled with pasta and cheese sauce. This dish is what dreams are made of!

Currently, the restaurant is only open for dinner, but according to Santches, weekend brunch is in the works and will make its debut in a few weeks.

While the menu likely won’t be the same every time you go, here are a few delectable creations you just may find when you visit: Un-Kosher Brisket Sandwich (with apricot schmear, gruyere cheese and onions), RC Grilled Cheese (with Pontina, Mozzarella, Parmesan and black pepper), Lamb Cheeseburger (with Bulgarian feta, caramelized onions, zaatar labneh, and harissa, served with duck fat fries) and Smoked Beef Sandwich (with lingua, horseradish, charred cabbage, caramelized onions and pickles).

The only problem here is deciding which of the many delicious-sounding dishes to order. Make sure you go with a crowd, and you’ll have a better chance of sampling a little bit of everything!

Not only are all dishes made from scratch, but they’re also sourced locally. Santches gets the majority of his ingredients from Eastern Market and other stores that sell Michigan ingredients.

There are numerous aspects that make Rock City Eatery so awesome, including the reasonable prices. While you may pay somewhere around $14 for a mac and cheese dish at a different restaurant, the one here will only set you back $8. Excellent food at (more than) an affordable price? I’m all about it.

“I think what sets (Rock City Eatery) apart is that it is a high quality food and drink restaurant, but it is also very affordable,” Santches said. “The menu changes weekly and it is very creative.”

If you’re used to going out for dinner and a drink and spending $9 on a cocktail, those days are over. Santches created an incredibly unique drink menu, including several specialty cocktails like French 75 (gin, lime juice and champagne), Charlie Chaplin (brandy, apricot, gin and lime juice) and Death in the Afternoon (champagne and absinthe)—all of which cost only $4 each.

“I want Rock City Eatery to be a very casual place where people come in and have a craft cocktail that’s $4 or a craft Michigan beer that’s $3 or a glass of Michigan wine that’s $5,” Santches said. “(Patrons can) grab some food and just hang out with their friends and just have a good time.”

Santches is well on his way to meeting that goal, thanks to the restaurant’s superb food, affordable prices and awesome décor. Rock City Eatery’s tables are locally sourced from the Rust Belt’s David Moroz Art Furniture, and are made of salvaged local materials. The majority of the art covering the walls is photography by local artist S Kay Young, as well as a piece by local artist and musician Niagara. Where else can you dine and listen to punk music at the same time?

Rock City Eatery is open from 4 p.m. to 12 a.m. Monday through Thursday, and 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday. If you’re out and about into the night on the weekend, stop by for authentic Japanese Ramen, served as a special late night dish.

It goes without saying, but it would be a true shame to dine at Rock City Eatery and not finish your meal with a piece of pie. Santches may be successfully embarking on a new path, but around here, he’s still known as “the pie guy.” With choices like Salted Caramel Apple, Butterscotch Bourbon Pecan, Buttermilk Blueberry, Pumpkin, and Sweet Potato Whiskey, you’d be out of your mind to not try at least one.

For more information on Rock City Eatery, visit the restaurant’s Facebook page.

RCEMac&Cheese Bowl