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The Rockwell Inn Offers a Dose of History Along with Great Food

Most Morris residents know a lot about this landmark and most have a story about taking family members to the restaurant on special occasions.

I already liked The Rockwell Inn from when I visited as part of an My visit last week, though, gave me a whole new level of appreciation for the restaurant.

Jacki Carugati McHale, arrived at the restaurant before me. We were set to eat at 1 p.m. But she arrived to an empty parking lot. At some point, the man we later concluded was the chef came out and told her that if she and her dining companion came back at 2 or 2:30 p.m., he would make us food. The restaurant did not open until 4 p.m.

McHale and I killed time shopping in downtown Morris. We visited some of my favorite shops, including and . We headed back and by 2:30 p.m., we were seated and looking at the menu.

The Rockwell Inn has an old-world vibe. Although it has had a few owners, a couple different names and some updates, the restaurant still has dark-stained wood, stained glass and a bar that is legend all on its own. It was in the 1893 World's Fair. It was moved to The Rockwell Inn in 1976. There was a fire that destroyed the building, but the bar survived.

"The tin ceiling fell down around the bar and protected the bar," Jeri Siron, our server, who has been with the business for 25 years.

I like the vibe of the place. At the chamber event, I was told that one of the restaurants previous names was The Seven Gables. I asked if that was a nod to Nathaniel Hawthorne. Some of the people at my table laughed. Others stared blankly.

McHale and I sat in Camelot. This is the name of the booth in the corner of the restaurant that is a couple steps up and the site of many an engagement, according to our server, Siron, people will come in and request to sit in Camelot. Couple have been engaged in that booth and come in to celebrate birthdays there.

For McHale, coming to The Rockwell Inn was filled with the same kind of memories. She had not been to the building in decades, but said pulling up to the front brought her to tears. She was instantly a little girl again, celebrating with her late grandmother.

Beautiful Restaurant; fantastic food?

I am a sucker for a good salad bar. I think I have made that clear when I reviewed in Morris. And the salad bar at The Rockwell Inn did not disappoint. It was fantastic. It has all the staples, but also premade salads with artichokes, another one of my favorites.

I ordered the Pan Seared Sea Scallops, which came in a lemon butter with garlic, artichokes, roasted red peppers and a baked potato. I was impressed with everything except one...the sea scallops were chewy on the edges. I don't know if this happens because they seared on the pan too long or if it because they got too much air, a suggestion my dining companion offered. Everything else was phenomenal.

McHale ordered the Filet Mignon. It was served with a choice of potato and the vegetable of the day.

She said it was excellent.

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