RockCreek Is Chef Eric Donnelly's Labor of Love

By: 
Leslie Kelly
Chef Eric Donnelly with his girlfriend, Christy Given, doing a little DIY finishing work on RockCreek

We’re used to seeing chefs breaking a sweat, but it’s usually on the line in the kitchen.

Last weekend, I spotted chef Eric Donnelly doing some serious manual labor on his new restaurant, RockCreek. It’s tucked behind Uneeda Burger, which is where I was heading for a salted caramel shake. (Yes, it was every sip as good as I remember from the last few times I’ve made the trip to that ever-slammed sandwich spot on the border of Fremont and Wallingford.)

Chef Eric served his last supper at Toulouse Petit that evening, and is looking forward to getting his 90-seat place open in July. And that means there’s some sweat equity involved.

He was unloading smooth stones from the back of his rig on that sunny Saturday, building a wall on the restaurant’s deck. Inside, his girlfriend, Christy Given, was working on the massive wooden beams that will serve as shelves for booze behind the bar.

The site had the fresh-sawn smell of new construction and there were building materials in piles, destined to be folded into the design of the space: corrugated copper roofing from a former church in Greenwood, old floor joists reclaimed from a warehouse, old fir.

There’s going to be scenic photos of Montana on the soaring two-story wall that anchors the dining room, a tribute to Donnelly’s roots in Big Sky country and his mad love for fly-fishing.

What's involved the next few weeks is finishing work. “We’re getting really close,” he said.

Upstairs, there’s going to be a private dining room and, eventually, a second bar. And the menu featuring a whole lot of sustainable seafood will be revealed soon on the still-in-development website.

This little stretch of Fremont Avenue has become quite the dining destination with Uneeda Burger, Dot’s Deli and the original Paseo, where the line was 50 deep on a late afternoon. Then, there was the frat party-ish outdoor patio at Pecado Bueno. Beer pong, anyone?

RockCreek will certainly add a lot to the mix. Can’t wait!

Somehow, it makes it even more exciting knowing the chef is doing a lot of the heavy lifting to get 'er done.