If you are in Southeast Iowa one of the few elegant dining establishments is the Top of the Rock Grille in Fairfield. The Top of the Rock Grille is so named because it sits on top of the Red Rock Tavern. I have included a photo of the Red Rock Tavern facade above so that you can find the Top of the Rock. To enter, you have to actually make your way through the Red Rock Tavern to get to a narrow stairway that winds its way up between the bar and the pool tables to the second floor. Once up there you find a very different atmosphere that is nearly breathtaking. It is obvious that this is a very classy restaurant. The finish is beautifully done, with polished wood floors, an arched tin ceiling, and nice colors and textured walls. Both times that I’ve visited I have been equally pleased with the quality of the food. I would pit it against nearly anything that Des Moines offers, save a few very top-tier restaurants.
In my previous visit I had ordered a steak but this time I decided to check out the Troup Square Pasta ($16). This is shrimp, asparagus, tomatoes basil, lemon and garlic on linguine. It was very tasty and well worth the money. I also took a bite of the Pesto Linguine with Eggplant Medallions. It is cooked with a basil and pine nut pesto and tossed wth fresh herbs and olive oil, then topped with fried eggplant medallions and a house-made marinara balsamic reduction and goat cheese. It was really quite good as well.
The only weakspot in both visits is the booze, though what the bartenders lacked in experience they tried to make up in sheer exuberance. In my earlier visit the problem was that my Manhattan was absolutely tiny and served in the smallest lowball I’ve ever seen. It could not have had more than 1.5 ounces of liquid in between all of the ice. Even so, the waitress did present with a flourish as though she was very proud of it. With this more recent visit, the problem was not that there wasn’t enough booze, but that there was too much! The dirty martini I ordered was delivered by a waitress who slowly made here way to my table carefully trying to balance a nice sized martini glass that was filled so high that it was only the magical physics of surface tension that prevented it from (mostly) not spilling. I took care of the lack of spilling when I tried to drink it. I also sampled the Rasberrini, which is made with Absolute Raspberry, Chambord, simple syrup, Raspberry puree, and a topping of crystal sugar around the top. As girly drinks go, it knocked the ball out of the park, so if that is what you are looking for, go for it: its good.
Fine dining can be a hit or miss affair in the rural counties. If you want tenderloins, burgers, sandwiches or fried chicken, and meals with a high calorie to cost ratio, no problem. But it takes a unique demographic to keep a fine dining establishment in operation and Fairfield, Iowa is just the sort of place to offer that level of support.
Red Rock Tavern & Top of the Rock Grille
13 West Broadway Avenue
Fairfield, IA 52556-3217