Casual Dining

Sometimes you visit a restaurant on a whim and walk away in disbelief that every aspect of your visit hit on all cylinders. You feel remiss to not have visited before that day. Rockaway Eatery in Jamestown is that place. After being greeted as soon as my party walked in, we were asked if we had been there before, walked through the menu and thus our great food experience began.

In Wendover Square and James Landing, sharing anchor tenant space with Gold’s Gym and an ABC store, Rockaway is tucked into the far corner of the shopping center with orange flags, signs and over a dozen parking spaces designated specifically for Rockaway customers’ ease in and out of the busy center.

Serving breakfast all day and a lunch and dinner menu beginning at 11 a.m., the Eatery has a varied menu with something for everyone. The most important meal of the day begins with New York-style bagels and ends with made-to-order omelettes and breakfast sandwiches. The meat of the menu lies within the burgers, rice bowls and the poutine.

Typically, New York-style bagels are characterized by their soft, chewy and doughy texture. Boiled before they are baked, the exterior becomes thick and shiny. The first to the last bite is chewy. I’ve come to realize that I am not a fan of this style of bagel. It eats more like a piece of bread with a hole in the middle. The texture of the bagel and the brioche bun which the burgers are served on are one in the same.

The only distinguishable characteristic is the flavor of the bagel if your choice has added toppings.

Cinnamon crunch, blueberry, jalapeño, garlic, rosemary and asiago lead the menu of 17 varieties of bagels.

The most flavorful bagel choice is definitely the garlic or the rosemary. The egg bagel is simply the plain bagel with an egg wash, giving the bread the appearance of having a tan while in the toaster.

Overly generous schmears of cream cheese, jelly, Nutella and pimiento cheese give each bagel the chance to shine on its own.

Flavored cream cheese options such as bacon scallion, lox and maple brown sugar are liberally slathered on your bagel and well worth the extra amount oozing out of the sides.

The signature breakfast sandwiches such as the Eggs Factor (two eggs, American cheese) or the Nova (lox, capers, sliced tomatoes, red onion, plain cream cheese) are served on your choice of bagel, flour wrap or toast.

If bagels aren’t your bag, three-egg omelettes are whipped up fast.

The protein-heavy Hungry Man (ham, sausage, bacon, onions, peppers, cheese) or the Swiss Onion Mushroom (with beef gravy and fresh parsley) is served with home fries and your choice of bread.

For a lighter start to the day, coffee beverages, lattes and fruit smoothies are also on the menu. The Berry Blast, a blend of blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, banana, apple juice and turbinado sugar is a sweet way to start the day. Additions such as protein powders, chia and flax seeds and cocoa powder can boost the flavor and nutritional power of the drink.

Cooked-to-order, the burgers are served with hand-cut fries. The Rockaway Signature burger is topped with a sauce, like honey mustard with the addition of paprika and goes well on anything.

The most unique offering has to be the poutine. This Canadian transplant of a dish gets an international spin (Tikka masala, jerk chicken, Salisbury steak), and it’s done very well. The hand-cut fries are slathered in a savory, unctuous beef gravy with tender chunks of grilled chicken or bits of a tri-blend burger patty with creamy cheese curds and fresh green onions or cilantro.

For the less adventurous, the rice bowls are a lighter and fresher bet with a mixed green medley, sliced cucumbers with vegetarian and vegan options.

The only mistake at Rockaway Eatery was committed by me, for not visiting sooner. I am looking forward to returning to try previous favorites and discover new ones.

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Casual Dining features local restaurants for diners on a budget. It appears the second and fourth Thursday of the month. Contact Nikki Miller-Ka at nicolettemiller.ka@gmail.com.

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