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Grandin Village's Rockfish Food & Wine brings a California coastal evening to mind.
Warmth and wine. These are the qualities most indelibly felt at Rockfish Food and Wine Restaurant. Votive candlelight, white-linen covered tables, strands of twinkle lights, a giant picture window and shelves lined with wine bottles reflecting the room’s amber glow. It is a space reminiscent of a dusky, California coastal evening shared with friends.
When Rockfish owner Olivia Byrd moved to Roanoke 14 years ago, she and her now ex-husband couldn’t find a restaurant they wanted to frequent regularly. They began asking themselves, “Where would we want to go? What wine list would we like to see?” And the vision for Rockfish was born.
Creating her ideal wasn’t hard for Byrd. “I had 25 years in the restaurant business prior to Rockfish, so it was pretty easy,” she says, describing past experiences which include white-glove dining along the Monterey Coast, and working with the likes of Julia Child and Charlie Trotter.
Choosing the Grandin location was also easy. With Grandin’s historic, yet up-and-coming, eclectic urban vibe, Byrd knew it was the perfect fit. “[Grandin] has grown a lot in the past 10 years,” says Byrd. “I’d like to think we were instrumental to that growth. The Village certainly has helped us grow.”
Rockfish’s concept is seafood and wine. However, Byrd keeps the menu varied to accommodate non-seafood loving patrons. The menu, while not extensive, is diverse and balanced. It changes seasonally as Byrd believes food should be fresh, seasonal and local when possible. She also likes her menus to reflect a wide variety of cuisines. “We lean heavily on seafood, but we’re not keyholed into one thing…we have a big palate.”
The night my husband and I dined at Rockfish, we traveled the breadth of that palate. We started with the fried oysters served with remoulade. For this writer, who is a picky seafood eater, it was a perfect compromise: a seafood experience, Southern style. For the main entree, I tried the special: bacon-wrapped roasted duck leg served with apple salad and blue cheese crumbles and butternut squash soup. The combination of tastes and textures was pleasant—tart apple against the sharpness of blue cheese, melding flavors of bacon and game, the creaminess of butternut. But it was the presentation that delighted me most; each item stacked atop the other: apple salad piled on top of duck which sat in a shallow pool of orange butternut soup. In the presentation I found Rockfish: wide, warm and inviting.
Then—of course—there is the wine. Rockfish boasts an extensive wine by-the-bottle selection and larger than normal by-the-glass selection. Byrd uses up to seven distributers, pulling wines from across the globe—Spain and Argentina being current favorites. After 10 years of building relationships with diners, Byrd bases her selection on regular clientele—oftentimes thinking of specific customers when sampling wines. Byrd enjoys helping guests pair wine with their meal and personal vino palate. She also hosts a wine dinner once a month, pairing four or five wines with different courses. Dinner is served at one long table, creating a family-style atmosphere. To accommodate the non-vino lover, Byrd recently added a full service bar. While not as extensive as some places in town, it offers a nice specialty list. Byrd is hopeful it will attract a new generation of Rockfish regulars.
True to Byrd’s vision, Rockfish is a complete dining experience. The food is good—hints of great, even. But it is the warmth and wine that make Rockfish worth your regular evening-time dining.
Rockfish is open for dinner Wednesday thru Sunday, and Sunday brunch. For a complete menu and wine list, as well as specialty services visit: rockfishfood.com .Follow Rockfish on Facebook for upcoming food, wine, & live music events: Rockfish Food & Wine.