Return To The Rook

Although the Manayunk section of Philadelphia has long been known for good restaurants, I’ve spent very little time there over the years. But I made a rare venture to its narrow and steeply hilled streets to check out the cheesesteak at The Rook in early August. 

Some of you may recall that the steak was disappointing largely because the meat was overcooked and dry. But I attributed that to the fact that they appeared to be having staffing problems that day and vowed to return to give them a second chance. I did so earlier today for lunch with my friend and former colleague, Virginia.

The street that The Rook is on is so narrow that when cars approach each other from opposite directions, one must pull over to let the other pass. 

The Manayunk section of Philadelphia

Their main room contains the bar and elevated tables with stools. We grabbed a regular table in a little alcove in the back which afforded us a nice view over the Schuylkill River. 

The view from our table

With the Phillies in the postseason for the first time in over a decade, The Rook got into the spirit with a couple specials.

Although they have other options on their menu, I associate The Rook with cheesesteaks and burgers. And I wasn’t sure which of the two I would get until it was time to order.

On the one hand, I wanted to take a second look at their steak in light of how my last visit went. But I really like the description of their “O” Double cheeseburger and have intended to try it for a while. When the time came to make a decision, the cheesesteak won out. I had seen one too many raves about it online and needed to find out how good it is when there aren’t any side issues. 

Virginia ordered the Classic fried chicken sandwich. While she feared the roll wouldn’t hold up at first look, it wasn’t a problem and she seemed to enjoy the sandwich, which came with crispy fries that bordered on shoestring. 

The Rook’s Classic fried chicken sandwich

When my steak was set down in front of me, I immediately zoomed in on an obvious flaw. It appeared that most of the Cooper Sharp cheese was on top of the meat on one half of the sandwich. 

I’ve frequently stressed the importance of both blending in the cheese well with the meat and evenly distributing it throughout the steak. Neither of those things came close to happening here.

Having said that, it was by no means a bad cheesesteak. The overall flavor was above average. It was on a seeded Sarcone’s roll – albeit not the same ones I had at Delco’s Original Steaks and Wolf’s Superior Sandwiches. Those made my top five list a few weeks ago. The roll I had at The Rook was still very good, but less crusty and more doughy than the other two. The meat was moister than last time and not overcooked, although it could have used a touch more seasoning.

This experience at The Rook was unquestionably better than the last one. Yet I can’t say their cheesesteak lived up to my expectations. If I return there, it will be to try that “O” Double burger.

Published by BZ Maestro

I live outside of Philadelphia and have been food-obsessed for as long as I can remember. After toying with the idea of starting a blog for a fairly long time, the extinction of a food-themed message board that I frequented for years prompted me to finally take action. Thank you for taking the time to check out what I've been up to - and eating. If you've enjoyed what you have read and seen, please consider clicking the "like" button and signing up as a follower.

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