Regional Dining Guide

Tavern on Clark: Quality Menu in a Classy Setting

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East Rockford’s newest locally owned eatery is a classy combination of quality food and professional gathering place. Take a look inside, and meet the family behind this mouthwatering menu.

Sam Sabani and Dan Isai present a familiar yet creative menu at Tavern on Clark, in Rockford.

Sam Sabani and Dan Isai present a familiar yet creative menu at Tavern on Clark, in Rockford.

Sam Sabani and his brother-in-law, Dan Isai, grew up in the restaurant business. They wanted to create an eatery and bar with top-quality food and a great atmosphere, a place where business partners, couples, families or friends could gather for all occasions.

The result is Tavern on Clark, 755 Clark St., located off Bell School Road, just north of East State Street. It opened this summer in the former Damon’s Restaurant building, which has been transformed inside and out.

“We were very intentional in creating the atmosphere, which we describe as the classic American tavern with a fresh, new, clean look, where there is something for everyone,” Sabani says.

The setting is picturesque, with trees and nicely landscaped flowerbeds. Black awnings tell the story: “Good food, good drinks, good times … Where friends meet.”

“Rockford needs a place like this, where people can come and just hang out or get business done,” says Isai. “We offer quality you can’t find elsewhere. We didn’t cut corners on the building renovation and we spent a lot of time researching what people wanted.”

“Quality” is the buzzword at Tavern on Clark.

All steaks and hamburgers are made from USDA-certified Black Angus beef and all menu items are made-to-order from fresh produce, locally grown when possible. A full-service bar offers signature cocktails, an extensive wine list, about 40 bottled beers and eight domestic and imported drafts. Johnny Walker Blue Label, Louis Roederer Cristal and a 2010 vintage Pride Mountain Cabernet are on the bar menu, and about 40 wines may be purchased by the bottle. A climate-controlled cruvinet keeps white and red wines, sold by the glass, at just the right temperature.

The atmosphere is warm, open and inviting, with plentiful natural light. The quality decor pairs dark woods and stone walls with earth-toned granite countertops and porcelain tile.

Solid cherry wood tables and chairs in the bar and dining areas are placed far enough apart to accommodate intimate conversations. Large booths comfortably seat six and have extra-high backs for privacy. Sage- and beige-toned walls are accented with black-and-white pictures of Rockford landmarks. A sculptured copper ceiling provides a point of interest in the bar; backlit glass shelves artfully display glassware and wine.

A private dining room, with a wall-mounted flat-screen TV and fireplace, seats 50 guests and easily accommodates business meetings and presentations.

Tavern on Clark’s signatures are the mammoth 10-ounce certified Black Angus beef hamburgers and the craft ale beer-battered sidewinder sea-salted French fries, which are just the right shape for dipping into a Wisconsin Cheddar beer sauce.

There are also fresh salads, flatbreads, appetizers, pastas, ribs, and aged center-cut steaks and chops. Lunch and dinner specials include the Friday fish fry and Saturday prime rib, as well as regular Ahi tuna, mahi mahi and surf-and-turf deals.

Appetizers include crab cakes, calamari, mussels, shrimp, and the cherry wood-smoked deep-fried bacon with chocolate drizzle.

Steaks, including a 14-ounce ribeye and 14-ounce New York strip, are featured entrees, along with pork chops, chopped steak, barbecued ribs, pastas and salads.

The 12-ounce Bourbon Apple Pork Chop is char-grilled and served with caramelized apples and demi glaze. Chicken Carbonara includes farfalle pasta, roasted red peppers, mushrooms, diced bacon, fresh garlic and a three-cheese Alfredo sauce. Cowboy Salad comes with sliced prime-cut top sirloin on fresh mixed greens with crumbled blue cheese, roasted red peppers, grape tomatoes, mushrooms and fried onion rings. Flatbread choices include margherita, buffalo chicken and smoked sausage.

Save room for dessert, because there’s carrot cake, chocolate cake, raspberry mango cheesecake, New York cheesecake and ice cream, plus seasonal selections.

Tavern on Clark is open daily at 11 a.m. Dinner is served until 10 p.m. on weekdays, 11 p.m. on weekends. The bar stays open longer, when it’s busy.

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