One of Columbia's best known hangouts happens to be right here in my neighborhood...Rockaway's. Actually, it's formal name is Rockaway Athletic Club, but few people know that anymore. It's so close to our house that we could walk there, we know the owners and we lovingly refer to it merely as "The Joint" or "The Rock." Now, everyone in Columbia knows the Rock for it's burgers. Even George W. went there. He went to the bar to pay his bill and realized he had no money, but hey, it's George W. He ain't too bright like that. (Ok, that's my opinion. You may think he's a genius.)
These burgers are humongous. The Rockaway burger features their homemade pimento cheese which is so good that even a pimento cheese hater will dig it. But, the Rock doesn't stop there. You can make your burger the mack-daddy by adding sauteed onions, blue cheese, jalapenos, bacon, provolone, mushrooms, swiss, on and on and on. In fact, it's one of the first places I remember who regularly offered all this cool stuff to customize your hamburger. The Rock has duly earned its awesome burger reputation.
But, there's more to their menu than many people know because they never get past the burgers. Neil swears by the blackened wings. Their chicken salad is one of the best in town...simple preparation with white chicken and just salt and pepper for seasoning. Years ago (Old Rock pre-fire) our favorite waitress Katie recommended that I have her have the kitchen prepare a "chicken salad club" for me. It was the club sandwich but with the chicken salad subbed in for the turkey. Wasn't on the menu, but they'd make it if you asked. Well, this leads me to the Rockaway's of today and their current menu item, the Club Sandwich.
First, this sandwich is made for two people. It's prepared on toasted wheat bread with their thick sliced turkey (this is also found on their hot turkey sandwich, which also rocks the house, btw). Roma tomato, romaine lettuce, mayo and (wait for it...) BACON. I'm a Southern girl and I will unabashedly tell you that I LOVE bacon. I love it as much as that "Beggin' Strips" dog on TV. Maybe more.
When I was a teenager, my parents could wake me from the high school jerk kid coma by putting bacon on the stove. I love it on its own, in my grits, on a sandwich, in a salad, on pizza, in an omelet, in a casserole. This club has bacon....not a couple of strips of limp, hardly cooked, thin cheap stuff. Oh no, it's got like a 1/2" layer of crispy, thick cut, perfectly cooked bacon.
The final product is a picture perfect club sandwich that you have to squish down in order to fit it into your mouth. If you're really starving, you might be able to eat two of the quarters. But on a normal day, I can only handle one. So, it's plenty to share or take home for your lunch the next day. I'll always be a RAC burger devotee like everybody else in this town, but I gotta tell ya, the Club is a VERY close 2nd!