Cuisine Critiques with Kelsey: The Rookery

I’m a big believer in stories. I think a good story can dry tears and excite belly laughs. I know a good storyteller is the best kind of friend. If you’ve got a good story, chances are there is somebody around who wants to hear it. When I think of my story in Macon there is one restaurant table in particular I would like to be sitting at when I tell it and that is the Rookery. The Rookery holds a lot of memories for me–my first ever college mixer was at the “Rook”, it was the first restaurant I took my parents to the first time they visited me at college, and it has been the restaurant of choice for a late night milkshake more than once. So I thought it was about time I paid homage to the memories by visiting the Rookery for this week’s article.

I was greeted like an old friend by the rock n’ roll of the jukebox, the funky lamps lining the walls, and the flashy signatures adorning the walls. My faithful review sidekick, Theron and I slid into a booth with the likes of Richard Betts and Jerry Reed hanging above us. We decided to start lunch off with a Southern staple–fried pickle spears. I was anticipating a greasy, dripping mess but instead got a crunchy and fresh plate full of fried spears. For $5, you cannot beat this size portion. If you are looking for a quick bite on a Friday night, I think the appetizers at the Rookery is the best bang for your buck.

Our waiter Will recommended we try the burgers as that is what the Rookery is best known for. The special of the day was the meatloaf burger, but I was looking for something a little more daring. My eyes searched the back of the menu page for the very special burger…and there it was–the Jimmy Carter. This one pays tribute to our 39th president, who happens to be from Plains, GA, just a stone’s throw from my hometown. So I took it upon myself as a southern belle to go for the big burger adorned with applewood bacon and peanut butter. Yes, you are reading right–peanut butter. I was nervous to say the least, but I was also excited for what an interesting combination this would be. Theron ordered the Big “O” burger, as they had him sold with the fried onion ring.

While we waited for our meals, we had the chance to talk with Roger Riddle, marketing manager of the Moonhanger Group, the group that owns and manages the Rookery. Moonhanger also manages Dovetail (above the Rookery), Armory Ballroom, Moonhanger Catering, and most recently added, Cox Capital Theatre. In the spirit of a good story, I asked Roger for the Rookery’s best.

Harrison Ford visited the Rookery a while back and ordered the James Brown’s Black and Bleu burger and remarked it was the best burger he ever had aside from the burgers at his son’s restaurant in California. Aaron Paul of Breaking Bad has sampled the Rookery’s double chocolate shake. Emily Ellyn of the Food Network stopped at the Rookery on her “Best Burger Spots in America” tour. But amidst all these celebrities, the Rookery never lost its hometown charm.

As my head spun with stories of famous signatures on the very walls surrounding me, my mouth watered as my burger approached. My well-done Jimmy Carter burger was dripping with sweet, melted peanut butter and piled with crunchy, crisp bacon. As Will said it best, its a burger that brings you back to childhood. I advise you to run, not walk, to the Rookery this very second to try this burger. It really is fun for the tastebuds, and there is something exciting about the unexpectedness of it. Theron loved his Big O Burger from the first bite–and we’ll have to take his word for it, as he did not share any of it! He described it as a burger that melts in your mouth with lots of flavor. We both ordered a side of mashed potatoes because this side is my favorite food in the entire world. The Rookery’s potatoes definitely rate up there with some of my most favorites.

With the Mercer Bears winning every time they step on the field, I would advise that you also take a chance to win with an experience at the Rookery! Whether you visits in person or have your tailgate catered, you are sure to be pleased. The Rookery offers an extensive line of adult beverages with Tuesdays and Wednesdays half-price on drafts. You can also catch some drinks for the kid at heart–hand-spun milkshakes.

The Rookery does hold some great stories–whether told by celebrities, Mercer students, or Macon natives. I encourage you to make some stories of your own there and to give their burgers a shot because they really are something. Thanks for the good time, Rookery!