When Marcel and Sherry Wahlstrom purchased the Bavarian Inn in the spring of 2014, they had their hands full with renovating and running a hotel situated on five acres on the northern edge of Custer. So what do they decide to do in the winter of 2015? Buy the Bavarian Restaurant next door, of course.
After several months of renovation, On The Rocks Chophouse was born. This casual restaurant offers fine dining cuisine and a terrific view of Custer’s granite mountains. That outstanding view, plus the large rocks dotting the property are part of the reason for the restaurant’s name. That and the association with a style of cocktail, of course. James who?
On The Rocks is a chophouse, a style of restaurant specializing in steaks, chops and other premium meats. What makes them different from other chophouses are their signature indoor charcoal grills, the only ones in South Dakota. Wahlstroms were inspired by this South American style of grilling, and had their grills custom made. They’re not your daddy’s Weber, these grills can hold 80 – 100 pounds of charcoal on a peak night. Also, they’re specially equipped with both a searing side and a slow-cooking side. Wahlstrom says charcoal has a unique flavor that can’t be duplicated, and the charcoal, combined with their special meat preparation techniques, make for a special dining experience.
Wahlstrom said they are best known for their Certified Angus beef products such as their tenderloin tails and ribeye. They add a little something special with their own compound butter. However, they don’t serve just beef, offering a Frenched pork chop, which is brined for two days, and organic chicken, among their menu items. In the summer months, they offer buffalo short-ribs. “We’re not afraid to spend a bit more on food for better quality,” said Wahlstrom. They strive to make On the Rocks a special place for people, an ideal location for that birthday or anniversary.
They also change up when it comes to dessert, and instead of offering the regular line of cheese/carrot/chocolate cake, On The Rocks offers diners the opportunity to make s’mores right at their table. No smoking campfire required! Another signature dessert is the ooey-gooey toffee cake. If that doesn’t make your mouth water, well, you’re not human.
Of course, On The Rocks has a full bar, and they’re always experimenting with new cocktails. “Everything is an evolution,” said Wahlstrom. And yes, if you want a martini, they can make you one, shaken or stirred.
If you’re thinking On The Rocks sounds pretty grown-up, well, that’s true. However, children are very welcome; in fact, each child gets their own Pet Rock, which they can decorate right at the table. Plus, kids get crayons and coloring/game book and Wikki Stix to entertain them during dinner. Wahlstrom explained that they don’t feel they’re just in the restaurant business, they’re in the hospitality business. “It’s about the whole experience,” he said. So go ahead and bring the kids!
Since it is winter, On The Rocks is open weekends only until mid-December, when they’ll close to the public to focus on hosting several holiday parties. At the end of the holidays, they’ll close down until April 15 in order to finish a few more renovations.