The Rock & Rye at Sweetwater Music Hall opens on Monday, August 2, 2021 in the heart of downtown Mill Valley with lauded Executive Chef Rick Hackett (Bocanova, Florio) cooking exquisite South American and New Orleans-inspired dishes on an ultra-seasonal menu. The bar program led by Joshua Fernandez showcases an extensive collection of American, Irish, Scotch, and Japanese whiskeys; as well as craft cocktails named in tribute to independent music venues nationwide that are persevering and reopening after the pandemic. The Rock & Rye houses an expansive remodeled and weatherproofed 50-seat outdoor patio and 18-seat indoor classic café adjacent to the iconic 300-capacity North Bay music venue, Sweetwater Music Hall.
Chef Rick Hackett introduces Mill Valley to his admiration for South American recipes he discovered while traversing through Machu Picchu and Lima, Peru and experiencing the world-class meats of Argentina. The Creole cuisine of Crescent City further influences singular dishes at The Rock & Rye, an affinity Hackett culls from a lasting impression after witnessing an in-person cooking demo by the late great Chef Paul Prudhomme of the famous K-Paul’s (New Orleans). Hyper-local ingredients are sourced from Bay Area farmers and ranchers (Allstar Organics, Marin Roots Farm, Pasternack) who Chef Hackett has longstanding relationships with at San Francisco’s CUESA Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. Fresh produce with roots in both South American and Creole dishes informs Hackett’s menu with key ingredients such as okra, a wide variety of chili peppers, sweet potatoes, summer squash, eggplant, tomatoes, and others.
“I love to embrace the new world foods that really influence cuisine worldwide,” says Chef Rick Hackett. “Potatoes, peppers, corn, green beans, yuca, sunchokes…they all represent beautiful cultures with magnificent people developing dishes that have really steered my deep reverence for international styles of cooking. Having had various opportunities to cook abroad widens my scope of ways to interpret dishes with integrity and full of delicious flavors.”
Highlights of The Rock & Rye’s opening menu include Entrees: Rye Braised Beef Short Ribs (sweet potato gratin, roasted garlic, maple syrup), Flatiron Steak (saltado sauce, mushroom puree, roasted carrots), Shellfish Gumbo (andouille, shrimp, scallops, oysters, crispy okra), Ling Cod – Manhattan Clam Chowder (bacon, fingerling potatoes, tomatoes), Buttermilk Chicken Cutlet (broccolini, shallots, black olives, aji amarillo sauce), Vegetable Etouffée (eggplant, peppers, tomato, jasmine rice), Forest Mushrooms and Grits (roasted shallots, spicy tomato sauce), Roasted Stuffed Heirloom Tomatoes (roasted garlic sauce), NOLA Burger (green onion dressing, crispy shallots, cheddar, French fries), Cornmeal Crusted Catfish (red bean sauce, maque choux), Atlantic Haddock Fish-n-Chips (sauce remoulade). Salads: Bay Shrimp & Avocado Salad (Louise dressing, cooked egg, cherry tomato), Butter Lettuce Salad (roasted beets, radish, avocado, blue cheese dressing). Appetizers: Dungeness Crab Deviled Eggs (chipotle aioli), Sunchoke-Almond Soup (pickled oysters, almond oil), Quinoa & Corn Chowder (avocado, tortilla strips, chives). Desserts: Sweet Potato Cheesecake (w/ creme fraiche), Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding (w/ vanilla ice cream).
Spirits expert Joshua Fernandez curates an exceptional whiskey list with premium tequilas, mezcals, and gins rarely collected on a single menu. His craft cocktails celebrate the reopening of Sweetwater Music Hall and venues around the country who once again present live concerts by acclaimed artists for the first time in over a year and a half (Sweetwater officially opens for live shows on September 3, 2021). The Rock & Rye cocktail menu features The Feel More (tequila reposado & mezcal infused with pineapple, lime juice, ginger syrup, jalapeño, and cilantro served w/ an aleppo chile salted rim), Great American – Melon Ball (jack daniels, melon juice, ginger syrup w/ mint and lime garnish), Red on the Rocks (rye whiskey, cherry syrup, lemon juice, egg white w/ lemon and cherry garnish), The Greek (grappa, gin, cucumber juice, lime juice, maple syrup, sea salt, parsley, olive and cucumber garnish), Tipitini (vodka, caper berry pickle brine, lemon juice, simple syrup w/ caper berry & dill garnish).
Fernandez procures local ingredients for his cocktails’ freshly squeezed juices and garnishes from Farmers Markets in Mill Valley, Ferry Plaza, and Alemany. The house wine list exclusively includes releases from family-owned and operated small production houses in California and Argentina. Craft beers focus on Northern California breweries with five taps pouring beers brewed between San Francisco and Santa Rosa. Cans and bottled beers venture further north up the coast to Fort Bragg. A variety of Agua Frescas are made daily. Fernandez strives to produce a beverage program where patrons can experience hometown brands with The Rock & Rye’s efforts to support regional businesses.
The Rock & Rye’s patio features a warm outdoor environment with pine-colored cushions resting on contemporary wood chairs and benches at two-top and four-top tables (large parties can easily be accommodated). Intricate wood furniture patterns lend to an elegant aesthetic with year-round weather-conscious enhancements in place such as a retractable roof, radiant heaters, glass wind barriers, and cozy exterior lighting. The café has 18 seats with marble-top tables and banquet seating for a single large party (10 – 12 people).
A short 14 miles north of San Francisco just across the Golden Gate Bridge, The Rock & Rye at Sweetwater Music Hall welcomes diners and beverage enthusiasts to a premier destination in the picturesque town of Mill Valley. Whether out on the town for an unforgettable dining experience or taking in a show at Sweetwater Music Hall, The Rock & Rye will be open seven days a week starting at 11:30am with brunch service on Saturdays and Sundays (10am – 3pm). The Rock & Rye will be open nightly with a condensed menu for post-concert dining.