Montarra Grill

So, I went to Montarra.

First impressions were great, as were the last and lasting.

The interior is definitely modern sophisticated. They have a waterfall wall and the center area is divided off with curtains. The lighting is dim and romantic. It was a very busy Saturday night so the whole room was buzzing with people having conversations and enjoying themselves but it didn’t feel overwhelming either. So the atmosphere definitely gets an A. My next impression wasn’t that great.

Our waitress was a little slow. It look a while for her to take our drink and dinner order. But other than that she was okay from then on out. My other small complaint was that she didn’t remember who ordered two plates and had to ask who had which. Our water was filled very frequently though by the “support staff” which was a pleasant touch.

Prices here are about $20-30 (topping out close to $50 for the filet) for dinner but I’d have to say that their entrees are worth their price. You can get an appetizer or “small plate” as they call them for about $12. They’re almost tapas plates so you could get a couple for a group and share them to make a nice light meal for not that much money.

I did order a soup because they had a lobster chowder. It was definitely overpriced for what I got. I think it should have been topped with a nice lobster piece to compliment the price otherwise it was just okay, nothing to write home about. However, the french onion soup which is costs quite a bit less is definitely worth the experience. It’s served in a hollowed out onion. We didn’t realize it was an onion until much later after it was served. It’s like a bread bowl except there’s no way I’d ever bite into a raw onion. It was certainly a cool idea and a nice presentation trick that’s worth ordering it just to say you ate soup out of a vegetable.

For dinner I ordered their “fork tender” spare rib topped with gorgonzola cheese. On the menu it comes with creme fraiche mashed potatoes and spinach with some wine reduction. For whatever reason though, I got asparagus too. Didn’t quite understand that one, but I didn’t complain. My only beef, no pun intended, with the entree was that the spare rib wasn’t fork tender and it could have been complimented with a steak knife. With that said though, the meal was fantastic. The reduction complimented the braised flavor of the beef very well and the gorgonzola added a pungent finish. The spinach and potatoes added a very homey feel to an otherwise very elegantly presented dish. In no way did I feel shorted by the entree. Also ordered at the table was the marscapone ravioli which was topped with very excellent tomato basil sauce that was rich yet sweet on the tongue and full of flavor.

Their dessert menu is very balanced. Sometimes at restaurants I feel crowded by overly elegant desserts that are either too complicated or use too many exotic ingredients. I felt Montarra’s desserts were both exotic while maintaining a traditional simplicity that made everything appealing and approachable. Desserts were priced at $8, made in house.

So, if you’re looking for a romantic retreat from Rockford (or just a fancy meal) to a nice, vibrant restaurant oasis, I recommend Montarra. Their food is great, the atmosphere upbeat and assuming you’re not 20, the service will be good too.
Algonquin IL


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