Midwest Living Review
Many first-time visitors to Rockford are pleasantly surprised to find Social Bar and Restaurant, where the trendy scene could easily be mistaken for a hip Chicago hotspot. Social is 90 minutes west of Chicago's Loop in Rockford's revitalized entertainment district of bars, eateries and boutiques housed in brick storefronts dating back to the 1800s.
Behind Social’s curved black cement bar of illuminated stained glass, dapper mixologists pour spirits, craft classic cocktails ($10) and serve 14 brands of mostly European absinthe. Young chefs prepare seasonal dishes, personally delivering them to diners seated around communal tables fashioned from reclaimed barn wood. Chef-owner Paul Sletten from Rockford works with local farmers and food purveyors to design each day's menu to please customers he describes as "young, old, meat-and-potatoes types to foie gras-and-caviar foodies."
For starters, we like the edamame hummus, the shrimp 'n' grits and the crispy pork belly tacos ($7 to $11). With a glass of wine ($8) or champagne, it’s easy to make a meal of the small plates. Big-plate entree specialties include a massively thick, apple cider-brined pork chop ($18) and flaky trout ($20). Save a little room for decadent desserts like marshmallow-chocolate ganache s'mores and creamy vanilla bourbon egg custard (each $6).