River North is an unexpected neighborhood for Mike Sheerin’s resume, but the new executive chef at Rockit Bar & Grill remains excited to launch a new menu for the Hubbard Street mainstay. Sheerin’s experience includes working at Blackbird in West Loop and WD-50 in New York, and he’s using his fine-dining acumen at Rockit with a selection of old favorites and new items that he described as “interesting comfort food.”
Sheerin is relishing the opportunity to satisfy his loyal fans while growing his audience by winning over younger diners inside Rockit, Billy Dec and Rockit Ranch Productions’ boisterous bar. He’s confident that shared plates like charred octopus al pastor might even bring over a “younger crowd that might not be ready to experiment.”
“We’re stepping up the game,” Sheerin said. Rockit should stick out in the sea of homogenous bar menus that litter Hubbard Street venues: “And they all have tacos,” Sheerin added.
While Rockit won’t have tacos, they do have lots of burgers. They also have Nashville hot chicharrones, crispy pork skin spiced like the trendy hot chicken. One of the healthier options is salmon tartare that has hints of Indian flavors with tikka masala and served with poppadoms. Cooking healthy isn’t a problem for Sheerin, who said he rarely uses butter. However, there’s plenty of “fat kid food” on the menu including the grilled beef & bacon meatloaf with caramelized ketchup glaze and curry cauliflower.
Old favorites like the Rockit Pocket will also see upgrades. They’re keeping the same sauce, but adding a Thai touch, with chili dipping sauce. Perhaps that’s some of Sheerin’s time at Embeya peeking through.
Rockit Ranch partner and Duck Inn chef Kevin Hickey help scoop up Sheerin, who was searching for a chef’s job after Cicchetti closed in Streeterville and Packed folded in Hyde Park. Sheerin’s been appreciative of the staff and looks forward to brighter days.
Sheerin has only been with Rockit for about 60 days, so he’s still getting used to his surroundings. Expect more menu additions before they deploy seasonal menus. Rockit’s new menu debuts on Monday, Feb. 20. Read it below.