Big change at Big Rock
Big Rock Brewery hardly needs an introduction. For the past five years it has been one of the best places to get a beer in Seoul. It was a trail blazer for craft breweries in Korea, being one of the first to offer premium craft brews.
Big Rock Brewery has always been known as a pub with really, really good beer.
For Andy Lee, owner and CEO, that’s a problem.
The food had always been standard fare, consisting of burgers, wings, etc. Pretty unspectacular stuff for a place with some of the best beer in the country.
“People knew about the quality of the beer, but were less concerned with the food,” said Lee. “We want to become more known for our food, too.”
It’s a bold transition to go from one of Seoul’s most popular pubs to a restaurant. Behind the move is Lee’s desire to become a landmark for Western food in Gangnam.
“Every time we change the menu it is a challenge, but I hope after this we are not a bar, but we are recognized as a restaurant. I want this to be a landmark for Western food in Gangnam,” the CEO said.
Another new feature this month is that Big Rock Brewery will open up for Gangnam’s lunch crush. It’s expected to feature a salad lunch buffet and a good selection of desserts.
They have also overhauled their famous Sunday brunch. “The previous brunch was simple, but the new one is French-inspired and we’re adding different special salads every week, sweet couscous salad, we’re making some crepes, etc.,” said Lee.
Groove Korea sat down with executive chef Makhloufi Faycel for an exclusive sampling of his new menu, which is expected to be available in May. Faycel, from Tunisia, has trained all around the world. He studied in Napoli in 2005, Saudi Arabia from 2008 to 2010, Dubai in 2009 and his native Tunisia from 2001 to 2006. He has been in Korea nearly two years.
He said the new brunch will be infused with a touch of class: “Every week there is something new — crockenbouche, different mousse cake, cookies, sponge cake, and éclair chocolate.”
He said the dinnertime menu will be international, with a special focus on Mediterranean. “I want to make something special in Big Rock that you can’t find anywhere else. We want to make something new, fresh, and original,” said Faycel.
The young chef said he does not use artificial coloring or chemicals. “I want all my ingredients to be natural. I want my customers — even vegetarians — to find something they love here. Take couscous as an example. A lot of people — Canadian, Europeans, Arabs — want couscous, but it’s really hard to find in Korea.”
Faycel echoed Lee’s desire to make Big Rock more upscale. “Other restaurants just give chicken or normal pub food, but we want to add something special; we’ll pay more attention to the food, rather than just give it a passing thought.”
Despite the changes, Lee doesn’t foresee a tough transition. “I want this place to be more than fun. When customers walk into my restaurant, they can be fully taken in by the atmosphere, the drink and the food. It’s the whole experience. It will be entertaining from not only a perspective of drink and atmosphere, but they will enjoy the food, too.”
Directions: Gangnam Station, exit No. 11; walk straight until you see a small alley on your left; you’ll see a GS 25 directly in front of you; turn left into the alley and walk straight for a few minutes; you will pass two alleys; at the third alley, turn left and keep walking; Big Rock Brewery is a 1-minute walk from here on your right.
Phone: (02) 539-6650