|Rocket leaves no space for pudding|
A review of a meal at Churchfield Road's Rocket Pub
All change in Acton Central! A landslide victory for the Conservatives in Ealing and a new menu at the Rocket. On Saturday night the Rocket was humming with quite an interesting, young, even glamorous crowd - though it was reassuring to see the owner of the local drycleaners sitting at the bar. Not that he isn't young and glamorous, of course.
The dining room is set slightly apart from the pub section of the Rocket. It has a pleasant sort of shabby-chic chandeliers and scrubbed tables look to it. If you're a deaf old crock like me it's best to sit at the back of the dining room away from the humming bar, though it would be nice if the loo door closed automatically.
After a heated debate about whether the Conservative rout at Ealing Town Hall had more to do with Prescott, Clarke et al or the Tram, we set to our starters. Grilled asparagus with Parma ham and Parmesan was 'very well done'; all the ingredients in my grilled marinated squid with braised chicory, olives and balsamic vinegar were nicely cooked but I could have done without the taste of sun-dried tomato. Roast king prawns, Tortilla and saffron sauce met with approval but the accompanying Italian spicy salami tasted a bit too 'fishy'. Malloreddus (tiny shell pasta) with sausage and fennel ragu was pronounced 'puzzling... I think I ordered the wrong thing, but I can't fault it'.
Roast rump of lamb with mixed roast vegetables, yogurt salsa and toasted pistachios was ok but I find having such a huge pile of meat on my plate a little daunting. Oddly, some of the meat was good and some was not. I couldn't detect any pistachios and there was too much thick gravy but the vegetables were really good. Aubergine, sun dried tomato and basil homemade ravioli with parsley sauce tasted nice but 'brought a new meaning to al dente' as it wasn't quite cooked. Sardinian seafood stew with fregola and pane carasau consisted of 'mussels and king prawns plus a few small pieces of white fish and tuna all covered in a good, rich, tomato-based sauce'. The grilled rib-eye steak with hand cut chips, watercress and garlic mayonnaise was nicely cooked and the most successful main course.
At this point there was a distinct lack of desire for dessert. Nonetheless, we thought we should taste the puddings but chose badly. An Amaretto and apricot crème brulee had a delicious, crunchy top but the crème beneath was cornfloury in texture and the filling a little bizarre. Muscat pannacotta with saffron poached pear wasn't an experience I would recommend and came with an uninvited raspberry coulis. Everything was accompanied by a really drinkable and reasonably priced bottle of Corbieres du Vieux Parc.
I've had some very enjoyable evenings at the Rocket and everyone has been pleased with the food. This time, we all agreed that the simpler dishes worked best and the rest were patchy. The Rocket isn't cheap (£68 for two excluding service - two and a half courses each plus a salad, wine and Blenheim Palace sparkling water). The atmosphere at lunch time is pleasantly mellow, it's lively but not out-of-control in the evenings and it's a great asset for Churchfield Road, but there is definitely room for improvement.
May 8 2006