Rockton Inn re-opens with ‘International Fare’

ROCKTON—Experience the flavor of the tropics in Rockton at the new Rockton Inn. A new, innovative and creative restaurant featuring dishes from around the world will open Wednesday, June 6, with the renovation and expansion of the old Rockton Inn.

While the name will remain the same, the theme, atmosphere, menu and management will be totally changed from the original that opened in 1940.

The new Rockton Inn will feature a tropical theme and include dishes from internationally renowned Chef Pascal Cornieux. The restaurant will feature signature dishes from Cornieux, as well as old-time standards that were the mainstay of one of the area’s foremost and respected dining spots.

Tamara Cornieux, a Roscoe native who has lived in Rockton the past 15 years, has an extensive retail and business background and will operate the restaurant with her husband, an accomplished chef.

“The food and the ambience at the new Rockton Inn will be quite different from what people experienced here in the past,” Cornieux said. “And yet we will have some of the same menu standards.”

The restaurant, which seats 180 people, will feature main floor and upper floor dining setting, two bars, a room for private parties and special occasions, white-sand porcelain floors with native mahogany wood accents and artwork with an island flair. The slogan for the Rockton Inn will be “International Fare with a Hometown Flair.”

The Cornieux family renovated the entire restaurant after purchasing the property in December.

“We want people to come and relax and enjoy themselves as if they were friends of the family,” Tamara Cornieux said. “We are active owners, and want to meet and greet every customer who comes in to enjoy a meal they wouldn’t find unless they traveled to a far-off tropical island.”

Chef Cornieux, born in Tours, France, in the Loire Valley, trained in France at the prestigious culinary school and pastry school of Albert Bayet. Cornieux specialized in learning the foods of each region in France. He came to the United States in 1987 to open the French hotel Sofitel near the Chicago O’Hare Airport in Rosemont.

Previously, Cornieux was the executive chef at Biggs restaurant in Chicago, and was named Best Young Chef in Club of America 2000 in 1991. He also served as executive chef at the Mayflower in Loves Park and worked at Josef’s of Barbados.

The restaurant will be open Tuesday-Saturday as feature drink and food special nights. Entrée prices will range from $8 to $25. A bar menu will be offered for lighter dishes.

Some menu items include:

Rack of Lamb—Accented with fresh herbs and dijon mustard with a bread crumb crust with au jus and au gratin potatoes ($25).

Seafood Trio—Grilled swordfish, halibut and salmon in roasted tomato basil sauce served with roasted garlic mashed potatoes ($19).

New York Strip—In red wine and shallot sauce with au gratin potatoes ($20).

Tuna—Seared tuna rare with a lime pepper crust and au gratin potatoes ($17).

Seafood Puff Pastry—Puff shell with fresh mussels, clams, shrimp and scallops in cream sauce ($16).

Other chicken, pork beef and seafood dishes will be offered, along with steaks, including blackened filets and New York strip steaks. Appetizers feature Shrimp Casino with shrimp wrapped in bacon, Shrimp Dejonghe, Escargot, Crab Cakes, Ravioli and Calamari. Soups include Bookbinder Soup with a shot of red sherry.

Desserts include an ice cream sundae with vanilla ice cream topped with cinnamon, sautéed apples, raisins and rum and warm chocolate cake with ice cream and fresh fruit.

The wine list will feature an international selection of bottles and glasses. The coffee will be locally ground. A children’s menu will be available. Many of the fresh ingredients will be farm-raised and organically grown, and are from northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin.

Nightly specials will include Pasta Night on Tuesdays, Chicken Dishes on Wednesdays, Barbecue Style on Thursdays, Fish Extravaganza on Fridays, and Steak Lovers on Saturdays.

The original structure of the Rockton Inn opened in 1932 as a gas station after Harry and Maggy Richardson sold the original land to the Shell Corporation. Theodore H. and Lena Graves bought the property in 1936.

Although it was a two-story structure, the second floor was once used for apartments while the downstairs became a popular eating spot. Raymond and Florence Burbach bought the property in 1945 and held it until 1977, when they sold it to Louis Herramann Jr. and Ruth Herramann. Mike and Judy Radean purchased the property in 1983, and ran the restaurant until 1988. Ownership changed twice before 1993, when Frank Bartel and Susan Caplan bought and operated the restaurant in perhaps its most successful era. Ownership again changed hands in May 2004. After another brief ownership, the Cornieux family bought the property in 2006.

Two fires have occurred at the restaurant—one March 17, 1987, in the kitchen that spread to the upstairs and caused extensive damage.

“This is a historical building and a landmark of Rockton,” Cornieux said. “We are pleased to open it back up while changing directions to make it, again, the most popular dining and social gathering spot in Rockton.”

Hours will be 4-10 p.m., Tuesday-Thursday and 4-11 p.m., Friday-Saturday. A grand opening will be at the end of June.

Private parties can be reserved for lunches or dinners for up to 125 people. For reservations and party bookings, call (815) 624-8877.

from the June 6-12, 2007, issue

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