The Gaslight Restaurant and Saloon … live bluegrass, excellent food, attentive service, and plenty of RV parking. It's the only year round business in the ghost town of Rockerville, SD.
The House of the Rising Sun played with five guitars, two mandolins, a stand-up base, a banjo, a harmonica, and an accordion. The only time I've heard that classic played with that mix of instruments was at the Gaslight's Thursday night bluegrass acoustic jam session.
As the evening goes on, the players come and go. They say these musicians range in age from 18 to 80's. The youngster in the group plays fiddle. The eldest, a friend of ours, plays accordion.
We've eaten at The Gaslight twice on this trip. Once we went for dinner and the other time we had what we consider "bar food." Both times, we opted to eat in the saloon so that we could listen to the music, rather than to eat in the dining room.
Our dinners were exquisite. I had Seafood Renzo. It's shrimp and crab sautéed in garlic and olive oil, served on bed of fettuccine, with better-than-I've-had-in-years Alfredo sauce. It's fantastically rich and I took home enough for lunch the next day. Bob had the steak dinner special. This was no ordinary steak. The fillet was cooked to order, topped with seafood stuffing, encased in a phyllo dough envelope, and baked. It was then crowned with Alfredo sauce before serving. He obviously liked it -- I barely got a taste. Dinners come with choice of soup or salad and warm bread, along with pasta or potatoes.
Last night, we had chicken strips and sweet potato fries. They were fried to perfection and arrived at our table too hot to eat. Although we shared it and ate it as appetizers, this was actually listed as a dinner, so it came with salad and a basket of warm bread. The raspberry vinaigrette salad dressing played a second role as dip for the chicken strips. We rounded this meal off by sharing dessert, a decadent chocolate cake base beneath a fluffy peanut butter mouse.
The Gaslight has been around for a long time. On previous visits, we shopped at the antique store, bought penny candy, and had a Green River or a phosphate at the old-time soda counter. But, alas, the only antiques left are those decorating the walls. Instead of an ice cream soda fountain, there's a full service bar. They've remodeled to add an area for musicians, dancing, and increased dining space. It's certainly not the same experience as it was last time we were here, but it is a good time.
Like many small towns in the Black Hills, Rockerville was founded on gold. Water, and later the lack of it, played a part in the communities rise and fall. So did transportation. The highway now splits around the town, diverting traffic away from what once was a thriving tourist trap.
Rockerville is located between Rapid City and Mount Rushmore. It's twelve miles south of Rapid City and eight miles north of the National Memorial. It's worth taking a turn off the highway to stop for lunch or an evening out.
The Gas Light Restaurant and Saloon
13490 Main Street
Rockerville, SD 57701
Phone: 605-343- 9276
We dined at The Gaslight in May 2011.
WOW Rating: 4 out of a possible 5.
Bob Grimm with His Accordian
A Few of the Musicians at Bluegrass Jam