Rocky Hill Inn NJ re-opening 11/08
To begin, the old rendition of this restaurant, Sante Fe Grille was a wonderful place to go and have a great meal at a reasonable price. That being said, the new version of this establishment, Rocky Hill Inn is quite a disappointment. The restaurant is divided into two distinct genres. One being tavern style dining which was described to my wife and I as the fun side of the restaurant, and the dining room side, a more formal room, which was too bright and did not live up to the sought after ambiance. The staff were all very friendly and accomodating, but the food just did not live up to their attempts to please. Aside from a limited menu, only one special was offered. Both my wife and I chose a fish selection, and unfortunately each element of both dishes was bland. Since the old Sante Fe Grille always seemed to impress with exciting fusions of flavor, we were terribly disappointed. We ordered one selection from the pub menu and one from the more formal menu. From the pub menu we ordered fish and chips. The portion was small, the chips were soggy and the meal came in a cone designed only for finger food. The more formal entree we ordered was the special. It was described as an Ahi tuna with a confit of tomato on a bed of Tuscan beans. We asked specifically that it be prepared very rare. It came out, at best, medium, ruining the taste of the tuna. The beans were completely without seasoning. All-in-all a truly uninspiring experience!
Our experience here at the newly opened Rocky Hill Inn was a bit better than the OP's. We stopped going to Sante Fe a while ago after too many bland meals of food we could just as well prepare at home.
The new RHI is far from a disappointment! If anything, it's a step back in the right direction. We liked the sprucing up the place has received. The tavern dining room has been redecorated a bit with a new long banquet and tables along the wall. In the tavern, there's now a very large selection of micro and craft brews on tap along with an extensive beer & wine selection.
We've never enjoyed dining in the more formal rooms as they've always reminded us of dining at granny's place with the Victorian fixtures and finishes. The formal rooms still appear uninviting to us so we'll continue to dine in the tavern. Our suggestion would be to dim the lights, soften the decor and bring the room up to the 21st century.
We had dinner at the new RHI last week and the food was for the most part, very good. For apps we ordered mussels and the beet salad. The mussels were well prepared and we'd order again while the beet salad was the low point of the evening. The beet salad turned out to be a plate of baby arugula "stems" (hardly any leaf) covering a fine chop of beets with a hint of caramelized onions and one hidden dab of goat cheese somewhere in the mix. The correct name for what was served should have been Green Stems with minced beet bits! Hopefully, they'll take the knife away from the salad prep station and serve a hearty plate of whole or quartered beets on top of some greens.
The entrees were both very good - the tamarind glazed wild salmon was very flavorful, perfectly cooked and a large portion. The pappardella pasta with wild boar ragu brought back memories of a wonderful dish I had in Pisa. Perfect wide ribbons of thin and light pasta with a hearty ragu of wild boar. Look forward to ordering both again.
We have been avoiding desserts but were talked into trying their carrot cake. The cake was super moist and had a rustic, homemade consistency. It was one of the best we've had and turns out it was homemade. Really good.
Overall, a very good start for the new RHI and we look forward to dining here often!
The new restaurant has been reviewed by The "Artful" Diner at nj.com whose experience was more in line with foody4life's:
Personally, I don't see the point of reviewing a restaurant that has been open for less than a month, except perhaps to establish a baseline. Nevertheless, TAD's comments are encouraging.
I dissagree with Madshtr as well. We stopped going to the Sante Fe Grill after several very salty meals and under-cooked meat dishes all served by average waitstaff that did not react in a positive or customer service-oriented way when these items were brought to their attention. As Foody4life says, the new RHI is far from disappointing and several steps in the right direction. To their credit, they have addressed the concerns regarding the two separate dinning areas and menus by offering both menus in either section of the estab. All of my meals there have been great - the portions are large and their prices are average (a nice change from the neighboring estab.) I have been so impressed that I even gave several gift certificates out for the RHI over the holidays. Looking forward to a new year and more visits to the new Rocky Hill Inn!
I have to strongly disagree as well..... having been completely disappointed with the Sante Fe Grille for quite sometime I have been thrilled with my several visits to the new Rocky Hill Inn. I found the physical improvements to be warm, inviting and elegant. And the food and service to be even more impressive. I'll start with the service which was a welcoming combination of helpful and attentive without being overbearing and effusive - which I do not appreciate. The food was absolutely delicious. On my first trip I had the Beet Salad to start, followed by the Salmon. I found both to be great and the flavors of the Salmon were wonderful. On my next visit I had the Tune which was cooked perfectly. My dinner companion had the Grilled Pork Chop and the Strip Steak and raved about both. All-in-all a truly INSPIRING experience and I look forward to many more!
My wife had been told that this restaurant changed and now had a chef that worked at high end restaurants, so we decided to go. We were very disappointed in the lack of staff and quality of the food. The old creakiness of the place was a turnoff. Our food was half good, meaning the onion rings were burnt, and the wrap with brie was cold. Who serves brie cold? I would never return, even if this place changed owners again.