Rocket @ Saltwater
The Rocket suite of restaurants might be a chain, but with branches in Canary Wharf, Bishopsgate, the City and Mayfair, it's a pretty opulent one - and the fact that their first expansion outside of the posh bit of London is in our city and a team-up with the Cornerhouse's swankiest bar is definitely something to shout about. To be honest, I’ve always been a bit judgmental about Saltwater, dismissing it as a place where posh folk go to after work to quaff cocktails on a balcony, but I was wrong. Yes, fancy drinks are here in abundance, but the atmosphere is really friendly and laid-back. The décor, as you'd expect (or already know) is lovely; half lamps that appear whole in mirrors, plates that give a 3D wallpaper effect and sumptuous colour combinations that your granny wouldn't agree with, but you would.
Menus in hand, we pored over the varied selection of salads, grills, pizzas and specials while quaffing a delicious Sauvignon Blanc (£15.95 a bottle). My friend had the smoked trout salad with new potatoes and horseradish dressing (£6.50), which was a very interesting start to the proceedings, as the light accompaniment let the fish do all the talking with its smoky flavours. I opted for the fried spicy baby squid with rocket salad and a sweet chilli and lemon dressing (£6.25). The squid was tender, and the batter suitably light - a perfect starter.
Thankfully there was a decent gap for us to let the first course settle, because the sheer size of the main courses frightened us when they arrived. My Creole spiced pork steaks (£12.75), came with delicious sweet potato chips and creamy vegetables in a sauce that offered just a hint of cheese. Although the pork had a bit too much fat for my liking, the meat itself was tender and well spiced, which more than made up for it. My friend’s choice of halloumi and roast vegetable pizza (£11.25) was also devoured with relish – there was a fair amount of cheese and the balsamic vinegar syrup was divine. Both mains were demolished with aplomb, though the final few mouthfuls had us beat.
We were unsure whether we could manage the desserts, until we saw them. I had a piquant raspberry sorbet (£5) and my friend had the limoncello iced parfait (£5.50) with a side serving of booze-soaked morello cherries. Both were a great way to end a meal, especially when my friend covered herself in a cloud of icing sugar while eating hers.
It may not be the cheapest night out in the Cornerhouse but Rocket definitely offers plenty of bang for your buck - the portions are substantial, and the range of choice means there's something for everyone here. Come glammed up by all means, but make sure the waistband is elasticated, because they don't do nouvelle here.
The Cornerhouse, Foreman Street, NG1 4DB. Tel: 0115 924 2664