Which brings us to the weird caveat about Rock Star: Even after repeated visits I hardly have any idea how the restaurant functions as a restaurant. Whenever I was there it was as one of only a few tables in a just about empty dining room--which is to say when I was at Rock Star, it was less a restaurant than a private dining room, featuring an accomplished chef and his longtime sous chef cooking for one table at a time. Why? Because the gulag-prom décor prevents anyone from returning, I guess.
So, should you yourself go? The question doesn't really seem to turn on the usual issues of parking, buzz, and food. More important: How soft is your heart, how impermeable your cool-armor?
Rock Star sous chef Philip Becht (seated) and chef Steven Brown with their winning grilled nectarine and juniper-smoked ham
I called Steven Brown one night at Rock Star, latish, to fact-check something, and could hear a level of kitchen shouting, laughter, and high jinx that just telegraphed, There's no one in the dining room. "Oh, you poor guys," I found myself saying, unbidden. Making little nettle-filled jewels, and no one to order them. "I know," said Brown. "We're like those pioneers: You travel across country to what you think is going to be your farm, and--oh no! It's a pile of rocks!" A pile of glassy, black-and-white rocks. "Everybody else got a farm. I thought we were going to farm! Damn. But we're going to make a go of it. All we need is a mule and a--a mule! I've got a mule! We're going to make this farm work! We'll farm these rocks!"