DINING: Rook doesn’t go by the book

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
Dining - A&E
Walk down the Cultural Trail from downtown to Fountain Square—or vice versa—and you might mistakenly think the nondescript storefront of Rook (719 Virginia Ave, 759-5828), with its minimal signage, leads to a design firm, furniture shop or private club.

ae-dining-apb-rook02-15col.jpg The selection—for sandwiches and condiments— is minimal at Rook sandwich shop on Virginia Avenue.(IBJ Photo/Aaron P. Bernstein)

In fact, the newcomer to the Hinge is a sandwich shop—a decidedly quirky one with downed power-line décor and a crow-motif dining room. Here, you order at a counter where Tom Waits, John Coltrane and Run DMC are celebrated. The menu: variations on the Vietnamese banh mi sandwich.

Rook, the latest from Siam Square and Black Market’s Ed Rudisell, knows what it wants to do and does it with a single-mindedness that it’s difficult not to admire. There’s no compromise visible. No obvious effort to lure in the unadventurous. No menu selection to appease those who really were thinking of going to Subway for lunch. And if you’re vegetarian, well, Rook gives you one and only one choice.

Its subs—each a pricy $8—are all adorned with pickled Korean radish and carrots, cilantro, mayonnaise and jalapenos. Want to dress your sandwich up further? There’s a shelf of Sriracha sauce bottles.

Care is clearly taken in crafting the signature Rook, featuring slices of Vietnamese pork roll with a spread of chicken liver terrine. The Nighthawk—a name inspired by Waits’ “Nighthawks at the Diner,” perhaps?— barely contains its Thai sour sausage. The Corvus holds sliced smoked turkey breast (fine, but if you are here, why play it conservatively?). The Black Wing, which worked best for me, used peanut curry sauce to dress up its sliced steak, a combo that best showed off the aforementioned dressings. Others include Chinese BBQ Pork, Indian-spiced tofu and sardines—not in the same sandwich, of course.

ae-dining-apb-rook05-15col.jpg A crow motif roosts in the dining room. (IBJ Photo/Aaron P. Bernstein)

Your options are strictly limited for sides: Shrimp Chips or Pork Cracklings ($2.50). The latter, on our visit, were borderline inedible, fried to near teeth-cracking density without being worth the effort. The former were lighter with a pleasant shrimp flavor but not satisfying enough to justify the charge. Dessert? Even more esoteric: Macarons ($1.75 each) from Circle City Sweets in such surprising flavors as Wasabi, Lemongrass and Black Sesame.

For some, Rook will prove a refreshing change of pace. For others, the price (factoring in overpriced bottled beverages) might curtail it from becoming something to crow about.•

—Lou Harry


First in a month-long series of game-piece restaurant reviews.


Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Of what value is selling alcoholic beverages to State Fair patrons when there are many families with children attending. Is this the message we want to give children attending and participating in the Fair, another venue with alooholic consumption onsite. Is this to promote beer and wine production in the state which are great for the breweries and wineries, but where does this end up 10-15 years from now, lots more drinkers for the alcoholic contents. If these drinks are so important, why not remove the alcohol content and the flavor and drink itself similar to soft drinks would be the novelty, not the alcoholic content and its affects on the drinker. There is no social or material benefit from drinking alcoholic beverages, mostly people want to get slightly or highly drunk.

  2. I did;nt know anyone in Indiana could count- WHY did they NOT SAY just HOW this would be enforced? Because it WON;T! NOW- with that said- BIG BROTHER is ALIVE in this Article-why take any comment if it won't appease YOU PEOPLE- that's NOT American- with EVERYTHING you indicated is NOT said-I can see WHY it say's o Comments- YOU are COMMIES- BIG BROTHER and most likely- voted for Obama!

  3. In Europe there are schools for hairdressing but you don't get a license afterwards but you are required to assist in turkey and Italy its 7 years in japan it's 10 years England 2 so these people who assist know how to do hair their not just anybody and if your an owner and you hire someone with no experience then ur an idiot I've known stylist from different countries with no license but they are professional clean and safe they have no license but they have experience a license doesn't mean anything look at all the bad hairdressers in the world that have fried peoples hair okay but they have a license doesn't make them a professional at their job I think they should get rid of it because stateboard robs stylist and owners and they fine you for the dumbest f***ing things oh ur license isn't displayed 100$ oh ur wearing open toe shoes fine, oh there's ONE HAIR IN UR BRUSH that's a fine it's like really? So I think they need to go or ease up on their regulations because their too strict

  4. Exciting times in Carmel.

  5. Twenty years ago when we moved to Indy I was a stay at home mom and knew not very many people.WIBC was my family and friends for the most part. It was informative, civil, and humerous with Dave the KING. Terri, Jeff, Stever, Big Joe, Matt, Pat and Crumie. I loved them all, and they seemed to love each other. I didn't mind Greg Garrison, but I was not a Rush fan. NOW I can't stand Chicks and all their giggly opinions. Tony Katz is to abrasive that early in the morning(or really any time). I will tune in on Saturday morning for the usual fun and priceless information from Pat and Crumie, mornings it will be 90.1