This Wednesday, RJ Rockers opens their long-awaited downtown Spartanburg restaurant. The Silo at RJ Rockers is described as a relaxed drinking and dining experience at the source. They’ve turned the flavors behind RJ Rockers beer into approachable beer-inspired, cajun influenced food. Each dish was born in the brewery, crafted in the kitchen, and delivered into your hungry hands. Might as well dine where the beer is!
The beer is still the star of the show at the new Spartanburg restaurant, and not just in the food.
A little history:
RJ Rockers Brewing Company opened its doors in Spartanburg, South Carolina in April 1997, on a mission to provide delicious, hand-crafted beer to the good people of the Upstate. Design elements all around the space reflect how far RJ Rockers has come since brewing their first beer in 1997 as one of South Carolina’s first official microbreweries.
Check out the lights above the bar suspended from an old bottle line.
As one of three owners of RJ Rockers, John Bauknight, was able to put one of his own touches on the space by displaying some of the cans from his lifelong collection. He serendipitously started collecting beer cans in the third grade and has amassed over 1000.
Originally a brewpub, RJ Rockers transitioned to a production brewery in November 2002. They are now returning to their roots in a way, with the opening of The Silo. The space is attached to their brew facility located in the West End of Downtown Spartanburg, known as the Grain District.
Who’s the chef?
Clay McDonough, who answers to Food Guy (and shys away from being called Chef), shaped the menu reflective of his Mississippi upbringing and says it’s heavily influenced by the flavors found in RJ Rockers beer. The food, much like the beer, is built from the base up often using the bi-products of the beer. The spent grain is used to make the bread for their Smoked Trout Terrine with Trout Cracklin’.
When asked about his culinary background, McDonough says he started as a dishwasher in Oxford, Mississippi. One day the guy making the appetizers didn’t show up, so he was moved up the line. “90% of life is just showing up,” he says. “And I showed up.” He also says, of course, to do what he does and to do it well, it takes passion and an interest in food.
*Pictured above: Chicken NOT Pie on a “cathead” biscuit. The presentation was a little messy, but it was homey like grandma’s chicken pot pie.
Here, the food answers to the beer, says McDonough. The restaurant serves up shareable plates but they aren’t married to the tapas style of dining. They just want people to order collaboratively, be social, and enjoy their food.
Clay McDonough explained his menu to visiting media during a recent preview and tasting at The Silo. See all that culinary carnage?
I’d order the Catfish and Chips over and over again. Crazy crispy cornmeal battered catfish. That side of slaw kept our table going back for one more bite. Boiled peanuts in slaw? Brilliant.
Y’all. This is Shrimp n Grits meets risotto. Risotto is one of my favorite things and shrimp and grits are one of my favorite things. They had a baby. That a good enough recommendation?
*Crab Cakes. Not beautiful, but balanced and lovely.
Still to come:
Once the restaurant finds its footing, RJ Rockers will be partnering with Hen House to roll out brunch on the weekend. The Hen House is a small popular eatery in downtown Spartanburg which quickly outgrew its space as soon as it opened, so it’s a welcome venture for both parties and something for the brunch crowd to look forward to this spring.
A little Poundcake Flight paired with three of RJ Rockers beers to end our meal.
And yes, your favorite gluten-free(ish) food blogger had a beer, all the food, and most of the poundcake. I’ll suffer later, but to hell with it. The Half Calf Coffee Milk Stout is a collaboration of RJ Rockers, Holy City, and Little River Roaster (7% APV for you beer people).
I can’t wait to take my people to Spartanburg to check this place out. I’d eat their entire menu again and again. It’s not high-end fancy, but it pairs well with beer and keeps the belly full so the beers can keep pouring.
God I miss beer.
For more information about The Silo at RJ Rockers, check out their Facebook page.