The Rookery isn’t a new addition to Macon, but after a change of hands this summer, a very good scrubbing and a little bit of work on the menu, it’s definitely a different place.
I visited the restaurant with friends for lunch a couple of times recently and found that fresh paint and a lot more lighting have brightened the restaurant up. I think my favorite change though is the now nonsmoking atmosphere. There’s still an outdoor seating area and live music on the weekends.
The new menu is huge and encompasses everything from salads and sandwiches to Black Angus burgers and ribs. There’s also a Daily Lunch Special for $6.99 and a Poet’s Lunch for $5.99, which include items that aren’t typically on the menu.
The burgers are cooked to order, so if that’s what you’re having you may want to get an appetizer while you wait. I highly recommend the fried mushrooms or the spinach and artichoke dip. The fried green tomatoes were good as well, especially when dipped in the jalapeño ranch sauce.
Sandwiches and burgers come with a side, with options such as french fries, pasta salad and mashed potatoes. You can also choose battered fries or onion rings for a little extra. The onion rings are cut thick and served perfectly golden and fried — not at all overdone or slimy like some can be.
One of my friends tried Betsy’s Grilled Pimento Cheese and Bacon sandwich, which turned out to be Texas toast covered in a very huge helping of pimento cheese. He liked both the sandwich and the side of mashed potatoes and said the pimento cheese was good, but he would have preferred it if the cheese wasn’t cold.
I stuck with the burgers on each visit because after the first one I just couldn’t get enough. After trying the Walden Greenback Burger (topped with a fried green tomato), the Big “O” Burger (topped with an onion ring), and the Allman Burger (topped with Swiss cheese and sautéed mushrooms), I think the Walden Greenback Burger is my favorite. The burger came out extremely moist, but well done, and the way the fried green tomato gushed open as I bit into it just added to the flavor.
I’m not the only one who likes the burgers. One friend said he’d found his new favorite burger (the Johnny Jenkins Burger, served with pimento cheese, pickles and green tomato ketchup), and on a different visit, a companion said she couldn’t think of where she’d had a better burger. She ordered her burger well done and noted that it is extremely difficult to find a place where the burgers are well done but still as moist and tender as her burger turned out.
And, even though I didn’t save room for dessert, I tried the bread pudding on one of my visits. Indescribably good. Try it and thank me later.
Three and a half stars
Address: 543 Cherry St.
Phone: (478) 746-8658
Dining hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday and noon-9 p.m. Sunday
Price range: $2.99 and up
Payment: Cash, card
Smoking: Not inside; outdoor seating available
Kids menu: Not specifically
Health rating: 95