Dinner and Cocktails – the restaurant that’s Rocketing ahead

Dinner and Cocktails – the restaurant that’s Rocketing ahead
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Holborn Front SignI can’t be the only one who’s had that dilemma when planning an evening – swanky cocktails or tasty meal? Cool bar or trendy restaurant? Whether it’s for a big night out, a date with your other half, or just a catch up with a good friend then sometimes it can be a hassle to cover all bases. And no one likes trawling from one place to the next.

Which is why I was so impressed by my recent visit to Rocket in Holborn. There are now four of these restaurants in London (and one in Nottingham), all offering a relaxed vibe with global cuisine and expertly crafted cocktails. This Holborn branch had been piquing my interest for some time. The foyer looked temptingly seductive with its hot pink awning and bright lights, and a perusal of their cocktails online left me in no doubt they were more than proficient with a shaker. So when I saw a friend’s Instagram with photos of a stunning Pornstar martini and delicious-looking plate of salmon then I decided it was time to investigate.

The nice thing about Rocket is that it covers all bases. If you want to dress up then the atmosphere fully embraces this – there’s an air of relaxed glamour to the place that means sparkles or a shirt wouldn’t go amiss, but more casual attire would be fine. Head down into the belly of the restaurant and you are first confronted with a sweeping bar and the islands of high tables on which to perch and make your way through that delectable cocktail list. Or you can head through to the main restaurant – sultry-sexy with its chocolate-dark wood, burgundy touches and leather. The lack of natural light has been cleverly handled with different partitions and lighting, and we loved the tongue-in-cheek nods to contemporary design such as brightly coloured plastic dogs lined along the walls.

But let’s get onto the drinks, because this is what has drawn me here. Gratifyingly, the list isn’t your usual restaurant offering of six to eight standard concoctions – instead it stands up to the food menu. There are the classics of course, but also a long selection of Signature cocktails created by the Rocket bartenders over time.

To begin my dining partner sensibly opts for a Negroni, while I’m tempted by the more unique offerings. Exotic ingredients pop out at me like bright butterflies escaping a net – kafir lime, lemongrass, lavender syrup… I finally plump for a Lost In The Grass which combines Mezcal with Sauvignon Blanc and coriander. Now we can see if Rocket can ace the classic and the contemporary in the same harmony as their decor.

Yes, they can. The Negroni is a glowing orange, like amber held up to the sun. It’s herbaceous and has that crisp, autumnal finish that makes it so perfect as an aperitif. My drink is equally delicious – the smokiness of the mezcal harmonising with the coriander and asian twist of lemongrass, given a dry finish by the wine. Very impressive.

Our starters arrive – crisp bullets of panko crumb & coconut king prawns, plump and succulent beneath their golden coating. The lamb koftas smack of spice markets and heat, with a delicately minted yogurt for balance. Between courses we try another cocktail each – this time both choosing from the Signature menu. My partner goes for Preserving The Southern Gardens – it’s a mix of Southern Comfort with pineapple and ginger beer, muddled with mint leaves. He declares that it is like summertime in his mouth, while the ginger and mint ensure it’s not too sweet. I have Purple Blossom – Zubrówka, lime juice, honey & lavender syrup. The lavender adds a delicate, floral note to a cocktail that is fresh and soothing.

Rocket Restaurants, LondonThe food gets our thumbs up too – my main course is a crsuted glistening tuna on a bed of fresh vegetables. It is exactly the kind of food I’d like to eat at home – if I were more proficient in the kitchen. The flavours are fabulous and the portions very generous. My dining partner delves into the famous Rocket pizza menu and goes slightly off piste with his pulled-pork number – I couldn’t help but snaffle a slice of the thin, crispy goodness packed with topping.

We decide to end with a sweet treat – in the form of another cocktail. The Crème Banane is an indulgent and perky, frothy delight – Absolut Vanilia, homemade banana and cinnamon syrup, mixed with pineapple juice then shaken with egg white and cinnamon. It tasted like a liquid version of flambéed bananas and was gone in moments. A Woodford Old Fashioned was rich and smooth and expertly executed.

Away from the outside world, I can completely see why people retreat to indulge in this winning formula. It really is a break from the hustle bustle of city life, with great food and awesome cocktails. You just might not find it easy to rocket yourself out of there and back to reality…

Check out the Rocket restaurants here: www.rocketrestaurants.co.uk

Or follow them on Twitter @Rocket_Holborn


Written by Rebecca Milford

Posted: March 26, 2015

Rebecca is a cocktail connoisseur & fan of good nosh. A PR whizz with a gold medal in bar hopping, you can follow her on Twitter here.