Rolling Meadows' new Rep's Place primed to become a local favorite
The neighborhood gathering place for drinks, eats and watching sports can conjure up many different images. Some may envision a "Cheers"-type bar at the bottom of the street corner stairs while others might think of a more family-friendly pub and grill with servers carrying platters of burgers and fries.
But at Rep's Place in Rolling Meadows, the family eatery and sports bar concepts combine nicely to create a welcoming atmosphere where everyone in the neighborhood can look forward to a good time.
What's notable is that Rep's Place, which opened in June, is in the Rolling Meadows Shopping Center. Developing a special neighborhood vibe in a new place that sits between a supermarket and a dollar discount store can be a tall order. But already Rep's Place is becoming a go-to bar and grill that's attractive to all ages.
If you went to Rolling Meadows High School, like Rep's Place's owner Mike Reppe, you will feel right at home. The school's purple and gold colors are prominent in the signage and most notably on the wall where a framed RMHS Mustangs football jersey of current San Francisco 49ers star quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo proudly hangs by the front door.
On the night we visited, the place was packed with fans waiting for the kickoff of the Bears' preseason game. Our hostess guided us through the dark interior and found a comfortable space for us in the back corner with a good view of the flatscreens hanging high on the wall. Another plus is that there are enough monitors to capture your interest but without being in your face.
Rep's drink and food menus feature some eye-catching items that you don't normally see. For instance, when is the last time you were at a sports bar that makes its own sangria? Rep's House Made Sangria is served with fresh fruit in 22-ounce Mason jars.
A full drink menu features the usual big-brand beers on tap, regional craft brews, imports and wines. Local craft beers include selections from Half Acre, Lagunitas and Revolution breweries in Chicago.
The food menu is simple, filled with lots of attractive comfort food platters. And yes, I needed an extra minute to decide on my entree. I ended up ordering Rep's Steak Sandwich, featuring marinated skirt steak, sautéed onions, garlic aoli and optional shredded mozzarella on a Tuscan roll. The onion and garlic flavors were perfect without being too overpowering. And the steak, albeit a bit on the chewy side, tasted great.
My fellow Bears-watching dining wingman decided on the Rep's Grilled Cheese, which could be the comfort food poster sandwich. This plate-filling portion features melted American and provolone cheese layers with bacon, tomatoes and diced potatoes held together with extra large bread slices. The grilled cheese comes with an optional cup of tomato soup for sandwich dunking -- a must with any grilled cheese.
Burgers are big at Rep's, and there are two that are hard to ignore. The first is something I've never seen on a menu before: a Peanut Butter Bacon Burger featuring two quarter-pound beef patties smothered in peanut butter and thick-cut bacon on a pretzel bun. On the menu it says, "Trust us, it's amazing!" But on a fairly warm evening, the idea of pounding down peanut butter burgers wasn't in our dining forecast. It's definitely something to consider on a return trip.
Speaking of burgers, Rep's offers a big burger challenge that could be daunting even for the NFL's largest linemen. The centerpiece of the $34.99 Big Dog Burger Challenge is a 64-ounce bacon cheeseburger with lettuce, tomatoes, onions and pickles on a bun. Eat the whole thing in 15 minutes and you'll get your photo on Rep's Wall of Fame, a T-shirt and a gift card for a return visit.
My advice: Have them take your picture before you start the challenge.
If you're not into heavier dining options, there's a selection of starters, salads, soups and chicken wings available. Greens include the chimichurri chicken avocado salad, featuring marinated chicken breast with chimichurri (garlic-flavored grilled meat sauce) dressing.
And don't forget to save room for dessert. Rep's offerings include a slice of Oreo Mousse Cream Pie with vanilla ice cream or Grandma B's Homemade Banana Bread, served warm with strawberry and caramel sauces and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Rep's Place already seems to be generating a lot of community buzz, and for good reason. An expansion into the space next door is slated for later in the year, and live music is in the works.
With a focus on food that's simple and familiar, along with promoting an atmosphere that offers something for everyone -- the future looks bright for Rep's Place. Whether you're cheering on hometown favorite Jimmy G or just kicking back with family and friends, Rep's may quickly jump onto your list of local favorites.
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3200 Kirchoff Road, Rolling Meadows, (224) 347-2916, repsplace.com/
Setting: Casual, family-friendly sports-style restaurant and bar
Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Tuesday; 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Wednesday and Thursday
• Restaurant reviews are based on one anonymous visit. The Daily Herald does not publish reviews of restaurants it cannot recommend.