Sushi Rock is a two-restaurant chain, with one location in Columbus and another in Beachwood, east of Cleveland. It’s an upscale dining establishment with a specialty in good steaks and big sushi rolls, with some cocktails to wash them down. Some of the ideas for the food are there, and the ambiance is definitely there. In the end, though, I didn’t like the place. It just didn’t seem to come together for me, like something was missing. The scenery is there, but the food is not.
The sushi is prepared in the increasingly common maki-style with a few alterations for the American palette (crab stick, tuna, salmon, shrimp, and so on) and with sides of various vegetables, cream cheese, and a few other things. There are the basic versions with some simple sets of ingredients, but the chefs here really demonstrate their artistry with the futomaki style “big rolls” which are approaching 2 inches in diameter. I really like some of these combinations. Take the “Pretty Woman” roll; smoked salmon, avocado, cucumber and cream cheese, all topped with a slice of kiwi; it’s a sort of refreshing, crisp idea, but the roll is too big; it takes more than one bite. The end result is that you get a mouthful of cream cheese, then a mouthful of kiwi, then a mouthful of fish. Together, I’m sure all of the tastes are great, but apparently I never figured out the right way to tackle the thing and it’s entirely lost.
Take the “Big Mouth” roll; tempura-fried spicy tuna, crab, and spicy mayo with masago. The individual flavors are great, but again, it’s more than a mouthful, and any attempt to get everything in one bite will not succeed. On top of that, the tempura-fried tuna is in the middle of the roll, so by the time it gets to your table, it’s already soggy and the tempura is completely lost. It leaves me wondering why even fry it in the first place when it won’t add anything.
The service was not objectionable or rude, but it was slow. It sort of seemed like the staff members were on their first days and didn’t know a lot about the menu or have a lot of experience in service. It sounds, though, like it’s an experience a lot of other people had at this place. The saving grace, to me, is that the ambiance is really nice, the restaurant was clean and seemed well put-together, and the drinks were great. There were a variety of martinis and mixed drinks which were good, but a little pricey.
In the end, my gut tells me the problem is that the place seems more focused on being a bar or a nightlife spot, and the cuisine being served by day comes second to that. It looks so well organized and put together, but the food just does not reflect that. I’m sorry to say I didn’t find it to be worth the price.