Midwest Living Review
At first glance, Rockton Inn looks like a nice, clean small-town bar. Beer banners hang outside. Patrons are watching football games on multiple TVs inside. But ask to be seated in the upstairs dining room, and you'll get to sample some of the masterful sauces and fine culinary techniques of a French chef. Pascal Cornieux was born in the Loire Valley and trained in cooking schools throughout France before landing in the little Midwestern town of Rockton. As you scan the menu, look for a sauce that interests you -- a creamy mushroom Chardonnay, a cognac peppercorn, or perhaps a Lobster burgundy. Then choose your protein carefully -- stay away from seafood (remember, you're in rural Illinois); the beef selections are best. One standout: the ribeye Napolean ($22), with a filet substituted for the ribeye. Enjoy the tender melt-in-your-mouth beef with a shrimp/crabmeat/herbed cheese topping swimming in a cognac-peppercorn sauce. Lighter fare is way beyond typical pub grub. French-style onion soup ($4) with a deep, hearty broth allows you to taste what French onion soup is supposed to be. The Rockton Inn salad ($7) is a complex melody of textures and tastes, blue cheese and bacon crumbles with olives and onions and a Tuscan balsamic vinaigrette over a crispy bed of iceberg lettuce (don't be turned off by the iceberg lettuce, Cornieux uses it for a reason). The steak sandwich ($9) gives you a chance to taste the peppercorn sauce, with a side of Parmesan-herb pommes frites. If you're in the Rockton area and you're curious to taste what a French chef can do, Rockton Inn can be a fun, unexpected dining experience.