The Rookwood Bar & Restaurant is located inside the former Rookwood Pottery studio in the Mt. Adams neighborhood of Cincinnati. Before I tell you about the delicious meal I enjoyed with my family at Rookwood, let’s first talk about Rookwood Pottery.
Rookwood Pottery is a pretty big deal in Cincinnati. It was the first American pottery studio to gain international respect in the art world after being awarded the gold medal at the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1889. Before that, American pottery (and art for that matter) had a global reputation for being unrefined. Maria Longworth, daughter of millionaire Joseph Longworth, changed that. She founded Rookwood Pottery in the late 1800s in Cincinnati. She was inspired by designs and motifs in Japanese artwork and aspired to create beautiful ceramics. She built her own kiln and hired artists and chemists to work with her, eventually developing glazes and pottery painting techniques that would make the Rookwood name world-famous. Rookwood was also the first female manufacturing business in the US!
Unfortunately, after nearly 100 years of making gorgeous ceramics, the Rookwood Pottery studio located in Mt. Adams closed in 1967. Even though the original studio no longer produces pottery, Rookwood still lives on. Today Rookwood artists create pottery and tile available for purchase in stores throughout Cincinnati and at select stores throughout the US. The studio is still in Cincinnati too, instead of being in Mt. Adams it is now in the nearby Over-The-Rhine neighborhood on Race Street. You can also purchase Rookwood pottery online, I’m personally enamored with the Abel Cat, Cardinal Ornament with Leaves, Grove Bunny Paperweight and the Honey Bear!
The Rookwood Bar & Restaurant is a fairly new eatery in Cincinnati, it opened just six years ago. The restaurant focuses on fresh foods and craft beer and cocktails. The old kilns remain inside the building – and can be reserved for private dining! The interior of the restaurant has a dark, moody feel to it with dark wood paneling and enlarged black and white photos from the Rookwood Pottery days. Several Rookwood Pottery pieces were on display in a glass cabinet near our table (we did not reserve one of the kilns, but I got to step inside of an empty one – so cool!). I took a moment to wander through the restaurant on my way to use the restroom – I really enjoyed the way the restaurant is decorated, you can almost feel how much history the building has experienced.
I loved the ambiance of the restaurant, from the wooden tables and dark wood paneling to the giant bourbon bottle that served as our water pitcher and the flour sack napkins. It seemed like the kind of place you’d find the band Mumford & Sons, either eating a meal or shooting a music video!
We ordered some sourdough batard bread for the table (which looked delicious!) and placed our meal orders. My sister, Brittney, ordered mussels – which she enjoyed with a super tiny fork.
I wanted to save room for dessert, so I chose a light entrée. The root down salad, which came with arugula, roasted cauliflower, shaved Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced radishes, baby carrots and a kale & lemon tahini dressing was crisp and refreshing. The real highlight of my meal though, was the flour-less chocolate torte! It was fantastic! The luscious torte was dusted with ras el hanout, a blend of spices used in savory dishes in North Africa and topped with a scoop of DOJO gelato. It was an unconventional combination – but the flavors worked really well together! Now I’m wondering if the chocolate-savory spice combination will work on other desserts, like chocolate ice cream and an Indian curry blend?
Everyone else in our party ordered a Rookwood burger and fries. Everything looked amazing! My mom ordered the house garden burger which is made with red winter wheat berries and chickpeas and served with kale, tomato and a smoked anaheim chile and lemon tahini dressing. My dad went with the house made pastrami which was served on marble rye bread with stout mustard, house-made giardiniera, emmental cheese and celery root kraut. Kenneth ordered the prime boomer burger which came with wild mushrooms, blue cheese, bacon jam and artisinal greens. Cam had the barnsdale burger, served with caramelized onions, fontina cheese, house-made pickles and thyme aioli.
Everything was delicious! I love how unique and interesting the food pairings are at Rookwood. Ras el hanout on a chocolate torte? Celery root kraut? Bacon jam? You’re not going to find these ingredients or combinations at any ol’ restaurant!
During my detour to the restrooms, I noticed there are ravens everywhere in the restaurant. Not real, live ravens, mind you, but the stylized profile of the moody, dark bird is all over the restaurant. There’s even one perched on the “T” in “The Rookwood.” I love birds and had fun trying to find as many ravens as possible during our visit.
As I mentioned previously, the interior design of the restaurant is awesome! The kilns are huge – definitely enough space for a medium-sized dinner party. I hope to visit the Rookwood Bar & Restaurant again soon, if for no other reason than to have another slice of the flour-less chocolate torte!
The Rookwood Bar & Restaurant also has a lovely view of its neighbor, the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. After dinner we stopped to admire the view and I took a photo, you can see Music Hall and Union Terminal in the distance!
The Rookwood Bar & Restaurant – Mt. Adams
Address: 1077 Celestial St Cincinnati, Ohio 45202
Phone Number: 513-421-5555
Hours: Tuesday – Thursday 11am – 3pm, 5pm – 10pm. Friday – Saturday 11am – 3pm, 5pm – 11pm. Sunday 11am – 3pm, 4:30pm – 9pm.