I'm a freelance writer/photographer living in the East Village neighborhood of New York City.
Published April 30th 2011
If you've ever wanted to rock out to Gene Simmons or David Bowie over dinner, then look no further than Rockography, a new eatery and bar located in the heart of the West Village. Think of it as a younger, hipper version of the old Hard Rock Café, but with better food and more interesting cocktails. And unlike the Hard Rock, the clientele at Rockography are locals, not tourists.
Let's start with a cocktail. Grab a seat at Rockography's custom made 23-foot zinc-topped bar. The drinks are as impressive as the songs after which they are named. We love the cheeky versions of old classics like "Walk the Line", which is a Manhattan made with Jack Daniels single barrel whiskey and finished with macerated cherries. Those who want to step beyond their comfort zone should try "Stairway to Heaven", a combination of Grey Goose Espresso, Café de Crème, and — get this — Nutella. A favorite of the brunching crowd is "Day Tripper", a mix of Pusser's Rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, cream of coconut, and freshly grated nutmeg.
Now that you've got your buzz on, check out the rest of the wild décor, which is primarily made up of vintage rock-n-roll ephemera. The hostess stand was created from two modified Marshall amps like the ones you manage to find yourself pushed up against at large outdoor concerts. And all the high definition television screens that line the bar play old school rock concerts by The Who, The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin. The playful interior is the brainchild of designer Andrew Alford, who bathed the entire space in electric blue lights that give everything an incredible jewel-toned look. He also convinced the owners to install a vintage Kiss pinball machine in the rear, which customers may play, as well as a rear gallery space brimming with original images by veteran photojournalists Chris Walter and Jason Laure. Check out images of John Lennon, Janis Joplin, Paul McCartney, David Bowie, and Roger Daltrey in their prime.
Among the main draws of Rockography is its diner-inspired entrées, like the oversized "F.U." burger (16 ounces of Angus prime topped with a fried egg, tomato, maple bacon, onion rings, and a smattering of Velveeta), corn dogs, deep-fried PB&J sandwiches, sliders, chilli cheese dogs, meat loaf, and a southern-inspired version of fried chicken and waffles. There are a few healthier options too, like salads and soups, but for your money, bet on something more calorie rich to set the mood. The menu, which was created by executive chef Ted Cipollone, formerly of the Prado of Balboa Park in California, expresses a desire to re-invent American comfort classics and put a fresh spin on the diner aesthetic. Entrées are complimented by fun details like Fender guitar pics and occasionally served on divided stainless steel trays as if you were dining in a futuristic cafeteria.
Completely seize your inner teenager and head to Rockography where you can celebrate the icons of American and British rock-n-roll, hit that silver ball like a Pinball Wizard, and watch and listen to some heroes of days past over an old-fashioned burger. Rockography is open until 4AM on weekends and it serves breakfast all day. A Beatles-inspired brunch with bottomless Bellinis takes place each weekend, which let's face it, trumps anything that might have been going down on Sunday morning.