Were there fireworks at Rocket Holborn?

Holborn is the home to the British Museum, the ancient Guild Church and was once a haunt for Charles Dickens. Back in the early 20s Kingsway’s neoclassical and neo-Baroque streets would have shared the smoggy air with the likes of Virginia Woolf and John Maynard Keynes. Nowadays, the smart architecture of Kingsway is riddled with chain eateries, coffee shops and boozers – there’s no Great Expectations that a current-day Bloomsbury Group aren’t hangin in Holborn, or would even want A Room of One’s Own is this borough. A clear case of Macroeconomics.

The Gay UK were invited to try the wares of Rocket’s 5th sibling and newest venture on Kingsway, Holborn, to see if their Food, is Glorious Food, with the view that we’d be asking “please sir, can we have some more”.

We sidled up at 7pm on Friday: it was like a Bleak House that had fallen on Hard Times – empty. Kingsway’s pavements are well trampled during daylight, but it’s like the City at the weekend after dusk. A warm welcome nevertheless. We perched in the bar area and were offered pre-supper cocktails.

On recommendation, a Summer Tonic: Martin Miller’s Cointreau, elderflower, fresh lime, grapefruit and orange juice topped with tonic. Apparently, this orangy little tinker has a trophy cabinet. The elderflower gave a good measure of tartness and a floral bouquet – it was blooming good.

Negtroni: Beefeater, Martini Rosso, Campari, orange zest and a dash of angostura bitter. A powerful glass of resonant mouthwash, a high-end one at that – delish.

A bowl of home-made salty popcorn was constantly replenished while we were serenaded by Boney M and the Bee Gees.

Rocket’s décor: Eero Aarnio Abstract luminous Dogs, dark wooden walls, tables and chairs, mixed with pink and orange cushions – struggling to find an identity? The lighting was bright enough for makeup reapplication and to notice the imperfections in some of the tired furniture.

One pre-dinner sharpener is never enough: next up, a Spiced Pear Mojito: Rebellion spiced rum, Xante pear cognac, fresh mint, lime and sugar topped with apple juice. Potent, and rampant with ripe pears – it was like Christmas compressed in a tumbler. The best Mojito ever.

Tropical Wave: Koko Kanu, Passoâ, fresh watermelon and lemon juice, topped with pressed apple. We had a sudden desire to be horizontal and surrounded by the Indian Ocean. Fresh, and slipped down like a still bottle of San Pellegrino.

It was as though we were dining on a well-manned ship – the timings were impeccable between courses and we needed for diddly. By now a few other diners had come aboard.

For the starters we opted for: Panko Crumb and coconut King Prawns with warm green and yellow zucchini ribbons, red chilli and mango dressing. They looked like they’d arrived straight from Thailand, but tasted as though they were bought from Iceland. The coconut seemed to have jumped ship – bland.

Seared beef fillet “Carpaccio” rolled in cracked black pepper and topped with dressed rocket, shaved parmesan and sun-dried tomatoes. The snappy leaves and pungent cheese elevated the tender, amply-sized cuts of moreish meat.

To encourage metabolism we lubricated with a bottle of Campo Nuevo Tempranillo 2014. Full-bodied, sturdy structure with a raspberry perfume and a truffle tease.

For our mains: Rocket’s famous rare beef and chip salad with rocket, green beans, red onion, radishes, crispy garlic, fried chilli, black bean dressing and ginger-mustard mayonnaise. This reads beautifully – if we’d guzzled black Sambuccas until 5am, this dish would be great to soak up the aftermath. The black bean dressing is genius, but the dish as a whole, cumbersome – slight overkill.

For our mains: Rocket’s famous rare beef and chip salad with rocket, green beans, red onion, radishes, crispy garlic, fried chilli, black bean dressing and ginger-mustard mayonnaise. This reads beautifully – if we’d guzzled black Sambuccas until 5am, this dish would be great to soak up the aftermath. The black bean dressing is genius, but the dish as a whole, cumbersome – slight overkill.

The Rocket Calzone, filled with chorizo, king prawns, roasted tomato, olives, red onion, jalapeños and mozzarella. A fusion of indigenous Mesoamerican and Italian cooking. Not for the faint-tongued – spicy, porky, hints of paprika – garlicky and smoky. Reminiscent of a stone bake oven.

While we pondered over the pudding menu it was as though we’d been momentarily transported to Monaco during a sluggish Grand Prix, minus the glamour: three wheelie bins were inexplicably wheeled past our table, and we were still nowhere near the finish line.

Puds: Affogato, Amaretto, espresso & vanilla ice cream with amaretti biscuit. The ice cream was nondescript – pleasant.

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Sticky Toffee Pudding with salted caramel ice cream: much like Channing Tatum in Magic Mike XXL – tacky, but with the right amount of sweet.

Our digestifs: Espresso Martini’s: Thunder toffee vodka, Khalua, sugar and shot of espresso. Syrupy-coffee with an alcoholic implication – superb. Rocket’s mixologist would fit nicely at the Savoy.

Should you risk The Voyage Out to Holborn to experience their culinary fare, you can be reassured that they’re not Scrooge when it comes to portion sizes and the service is Oom-Pah-Pah perfect. A meal for two won’t blow the purse strings, even on a Bob Cratchit wage.

 

REVIEWED BY: Thabian Sutherland

Rocket Holborn

36-38 Kingsway, London, WC2B 6EY

Tel: 0207 242 8070

Email: holbornbookings@rocketrestaurants.co.uk

Nearest tube: Holborn

Star rating; ★★★ (explained)

Price Rating: ££ (explained)

 

 

 

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