The rocket hits new heights salmon steak cooking time

The rocket has long been synonymous with good food. If you’re after pub classics – cod and chips, bangers and mash etc – or tasty lighter bites and tempting weekend brunches, it ticks all the boxes, with a reliably sound, competitively-priced regular menu. However, something exciting is happening to the à la carte menu. A trio of us recently caught up with manager filip to hear about the changes and meet stefano, the inspired creator of the impressive new dishes on offer.

Filip and stefano share an all-important passion: an uncompromising commitment to quality. It’s there in filip’s plans for the rocket as not just a brilliant local pub, but also a real community nucleus, with an increasing number of special events and live music nights on the schedule for this spring; and it’s there in stefano’s enthusiasm for the fresh, seasonal menus he has in the pipeline.


But he and filip are also pragmatists: with never-ending austerity taking huge bites out of many of our budgets, fewer of us are eating out than in happier times.Hollandaise sauce the secret here is successfully combining quality with value. With many years learning his art at top establishments, stefano cooks with flair, love and expertise – as we can happily attest. But he’s critical of what in britain is too often a trade-off between price versus quality.

‘look at the french: they eat out far more often because they can expect quality without breaking the bank. Here, the lines have got blurred and people’s expectations are confused.’ by which I think he meant you might be surprised to hear that you could enjoy a three-course à la carte menu that would shame a high-class restaurant for under £20 – but the good news is, at the rocket, you can!

We mixed and matched amongst the three of us to try to give as wide as possible an impression of the choices on offer. Soup of the day was an astonishing meal in itself for just £5.00 and very possibly my favourite dish of the entire banquet, difficult though it is to pick a winner.Carte menu pea, ham and mint with, floating within it, a whole poached egg, served with crisply warmed sourdough bread, it had a richness of flavour that almost defies description. I loved how stefano had taken a summer staple – pea and mint – and given it a warming winter twist. Perfect for a chilly ‘spring’ day as the snow fell!

Scallops are one of those deceptively simple dishes that the inexperienced cook (me) can mess up in seconds, either from a failure to choose the best fresh ingredients or the cardinal sin of overcooking. Naturally, no such horrors occurred here and, for presentation, this was dish of the match. Served on a slate with an artistic slash of vibrantly-coloured cauliflower and spinach purée, the pan fried scallops with pork belly looked like little gems displayed on a jeweller’s shelf. Texture and taste combination bang on.

The flair remained consistent with the salmon and smoked haddock fishcake (starter size £5/main £9) with hollandaise sauce, poached egg and a pea purée.Hollandaise sauce this was a textbook example of how to elevate a dish too often reduced to a bland, potato-heavy disappointment to fishy heaven on a plate. We probed stefano as to the hidden secret of that extra kick of flavour and discovered it was good old english mustard: along with horseradish, a brilliant complement to hollandaise sauce.

My virtuous companion who always dines lightly at lunchtime had to be forcefully persuaded, in the interests of giving fair coverage to the fine meat dishes on offer, to go for the pan roast pork belly with rosemary mashed potatoes, curly kale and apple and brandy gravy (£12). His protests stopped with the first mouthful. The combination of flavours and the portion size was perfect, the meat uncharacteristically tender and the crackling crisped on the outside, succulent within. I shall just add that the man who was worried about huge helpings sent back a clean plate.

As it turned out, the pan fried salmon fillet with quinoa, baby spinach, avocado, pumpkin seeds and pomegranate dressing (£12) proved more of a lunchtime challenge, just for the sheer generosity of the portion.Brandy gravy A chunky, succulent fillet, skin lightly crisped, set atop a colourful and nicely textured salad bed – first class.

How we found room for pud I’ll never know, but our delightful waitress was terribly persuasive and there was something about the sound of apple and raspberry crumble with custard (for a mere £4) that we could not resist. By now we were pretty confident that stefano’s flair would be taking this traditional-sounding dish to dizzy new heights and we were right. Not remotely like a traditional heavy crumble, a refreshing blend of sweet and tart fruits, the custard a work of yummy art in itself. Shamelessly exquisite.

To accompany our feast, we sampled a selection of wines by the large glass. The house red, a well balanced, fruity michel servin rouge from the languedoc, was at £5.70 a rewarding, good value choice. However our more adventurous forays into the rocket’s welcoming wine list really gladdened the heart.Carte menu refreshingly suave, the palacio del camino real blanco white rioja (£6.95) was a super partner to the fish dishes. For me there was no other choice once I’d spotted it: an argentinian malbec (mendoza, capilla de barro, £8.50). Heaven in a glass. I can’t better the wine list notes, which state simply ‘this wine is a joy to drink’.

And what a joy to find a knowledgable local pub manager with the imagination to give customers such a quality selection of wines by the glass, not merely by bottle. Three cheers to filip – do reward his vision with some adventurous exploration!

In essence, the new menu at the rocket is refreshingly different, modern mediterranean cuisine reflecting what seems to be stefano’s signature art: the ability to take a familiar dish from the realm of the standard to the exceptional with just the lightest of touches. The kick of mustard in a hollandaise sauce; the well-judged hint of warmth in the brandy gravy accompanying the pork belly.Brandy gravy brilliant value, but even more so monday to friday, when you can enjoy two courses for just £12 or three for £15.

We loved our à la carte outing at the rocket and can only urge you to drop by and see what we’re fussing about! We would just say, expect the unexpected, in the nicest possible way.

The rocket has long been synonymous with good food. If you’re after pub classics – cod and chips, bangers and mash etc – or tasty lighter bites and tempting weekend brunches, it ticks all the boxes, with a reliably sound, competitively-priced regular menu. However, something exciting is happening to the à la carte menu. A trio of us recently caught up with manager filip to hear about the changes and meet stefano, the inspired creator of the impressive new dishes on offer.

Filip and stefano share an all-important passion: an uncompromising commitment to quality. It’s there in filip’s plans for the rocket as not just a brilliant local pub, but also a real community nucleus, with an increasing number of special events and live music nights on the schedule for this spring; and it’s there in stefano’s enthusiasm for the fresh, seasonal menus he has in the pipeline.Brandy gravy

But he and filip are also pragmatists: with never-ending austerity taking huge bites out of many of our budgets, fewer of us are eating out than in happier times. The secret here is successfully combining quality with value. With many years learning his art at top establishments, stefano cooks with flair, love and expertise – as we can happily attest. But he’s critical of what in britain is too often a trade-off between price versus quality.

‘look at the french: they eat out far more often because they can expect quality without breaking the bank. Here, the lines have got blurred and people’s expectations are confused.’ by which I think he meant you might be surprised to hear that you could enjoy a three-course à la carte menu that would shame a high-class restaurant for under £20 – but the good news is, at the rocket, you can!

We mixed and matched amongst the three of us to try to give as wide as possible an impression of the choices on offer.Carte menu soup of the day was an astonishing meal in itself for just £5.00 and very possibly my favourite dish of the entire banquet, difficult though it is to pick a winner. Pea, ham and mint with, floating within it, a whole poached egg, served with crisply warmed sourdough bread, it had a richness of flavour that almost defies description. I loved how stefano had taken a summer staple – pea and mint – and given it a warming winter twist. Perfect for a chilly ‘spring’ day as the snow fell!

Scallops are one of those deceptively simple dishes that the inexperienced cook (me) can mess up in seconds, either from a failure to choose the best fresh ingredients or the cardinal sin of overcooking. Naturally, no such horrors occurred here and, for presentation, this was dish of the match. Served on a slate with an artistic slash of vibrantly-coloured cauliflower and spinach purée, the pan fried scallops with pork belly looked like little gems displayed on a jeweller’s shelf.Carte menu texture and taste combination bang on.

The flair remained consistent with the salmon and smoked haddock fishcake (starter size £5/main £9) with hollandaise sauce, poached egg and a pea purée. This was a textbook example of how to elevate a dish too often reduced to a bland, potato-heavy disappointment to fishy heaven on a plate. We probed stefano as to the hidden secret of that extra kick of flavour and discovered it was good old english mustard: along with horseradish, a brilliant complement to hollandaise sauce.

My virtuous companion who always dines lightly at lunchtime had to be forcefully persuaded, in the interests of giving fair coverage to the fine meat dishes on offer, to go for the pan roast pork belly with rosemary mashed potatoes, curly kale and apple and brandy gravy (£12). His protests stopped with the first mouthful. The combination of flavours and the portion size was perfect, the meat uncharacteristically tender and the crackling crisped on the outside, succulent within.Hollandaise sauce I shall just add that the man who was worried about huge helpings sent back a clean plate.

As it turned out, the pan fried salmon fillet with quinoa, baby spinach, avocado, pumpkin seeds and pomegranate dressing (£12) proved more of a lunchtime challenge, just for the sheer generosity of the portion. A chunky, succulent fillet, skin lightly crisped, set atop a colourful and nicely textured salad bed – first class.

How we found room for pud I’ll never know, but our delightful waitress was terribly persuasive and there was something about the sound of apple and raspberry crumble with custard (for a mere £4) that we could not resist. By now we were pretty confident that stefano’s flair would be taking this traditional-sounding dish to dizzy new heights and we were right. Not remotely like a traditional heavy crumble, a refreshing blend of sweet and tart fruits, the custard a work of yummy art in itself. Shamelessly exquisite.Brandy gravy

To accompany our feast, we sampled a selection of wines by the large glass. The house red, a well balanced, fruity michel servin rouge from the languedoc, was at £5.70 a rewarding, good value choice. However our more adventurous forays into the rocket’s welcoming wine list really gladdened the heart. Refreshingly suave, the palacio del camino real blanco white rioja (£6.95) was a super partner to the fish dishes. For me there was no other choice once I’d spotted it: an argentinian malbec (mendoza, capilla de barro, £8.50). Heaven in a glass. I can’t better the wine list notes, which state simply ‘this wine is a joy to drink’.

And what a joy to find a knowledgable local pub manager with the imagination to give customers such a quality selection of wines by the glass, not merely by bottle. Three cheers to filip – do reward his vision with some adventurous exploration!

In essence, the new menu at the rocket is refreshingly different, modern mediterranean cuisine reflecting what seems to be stefano’s signature art: the ability to take a familiar dish from the realm of the standard to the exceptional with just the lightest of touches.Hollandaise sauce the kick of mustard in a hollandaise sauce; the well-judged hint of warmth in the brandy gravy accompanying the pork belly. Brilliant value, but even more so monday to friday, when you can enjoy two courses for just £12 or three for £15.

We loved our à la carte outing at the rocket and can only urge you to drop by and see what we’re fussing about! We would just say, expect the unexpected, in the nicest possible way.