We visited La Rock in Sandiacre for my birthday as we wanted something extra special to celebrate – we had heard that La Rock would be perfect. It’s a little out of the way as we usually eat in or close to the city centre, but it was worth it!
We arrived at 8pm and were seated upstairs in this beautiful building, there was a lovely romantic atmosphere with that soft lighting and plinky plonky music that chicks dig. We ordered a bottle of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc (our fave!) for £22. As I recall the house white was a £16 Pinot Grigio. We ordered off the a la carte menu, however there is a tasting menu available every first Friday of the month which we would love to return to try.
The service cannot be faulted, our lovely waitress asked if we would like a short description of our dishes as they arrived and we said yes – she was extremely knowledgeable while always keeping the glasses of wine and water full. What more could you ask for?!
Cauliflower and truffle soup
After we were given fresh bread, a complimentary amuse bouche of cauliflower and truffle soup arrived. At first it was difficult to work out whether to sip it from the cup or use the alarmingly small spoon – we used the spoon. The soup was smooth, creamy and well seasoned with a gorgeous, earthy depth from the truffle oil. Neither of us ever order soup when we eat out (there’s just always something more exciting!) so it was a lovely surprise to really enjoy one.
Hickory smoked wood pigeon with foie gras, cherry and pistachio
The menu did say pearl barley, but there wasn’t any on our plates – I’m not sure if the dish was redesigned or they had run out. Overall this was a pleasure, it was definitely a rich dish for a special occasion and it felt very special and indulgent. Although we hadn’t eaten pigeon before, it wasn’t as tender as we were expecting but nowhere near tough. It had a deep, smoky flavour that was lifted by the cherry and fresh spring onion. The foie gras was very creamy and rich, complementing the dish well, but apart from a little crunch the pistachio didn’t seem to add much and we could have done without it.
We both gave the starter 8/10
Stu had the trio of John Worsley beef with garlic, truffle dumpling, scallion and thermidor (no picture, sorry!) and I ordered the fruit der mer.
Fruit de mer: seabass, clams, brown shrimp, smoked haddock chowder with chive, pancetta
The fruit de mer was my favourite of the courses. The seabass was lovely and delicate, the fishiness of the clams and brown shrimp worked fantastically with the samphire to bring the taste of the ocean to the plate. Smokiness from the haddock chowder made the perfect sauce and the crispy pancetta was a delightful addition – the whole dish felt light yet naughty, just what you want on your birthday!
If I had any criticisms, the chowder was on the salty side and the skin on the sea bass should have been crispy.
The beef was cooked very well and was tender and juicy – you could tell it was a top quality fillet. Each element was delicious, however it was felt that the truffle dumpling overpowered the rest of the dish when all was eaten together, with it being such a strong flavour. The thermidor unfortunately wasn’t a hit – it was served almost like a little cappuccino on the side, a thin broth with a foamy top. Stu felt it was a little strong and not to his taste.
Another complimentary dish, this little jar of palette cleansing sorbet was a lovely surprise. A combination of watermelon and sage is not one you hear of very often, but this sorbet worked really well. I particularly like the combination of herbs and sweets (strawberries and basil, anyone?) so this was right up my street. It was simple yet effective and did the job well – we considered our palettes well and truly cleansed. A good sorbet is one of Stu’s favourites, so he loved this one.
Nottinghamshire rhubarb with vanilla cream and hibiscus sorbet (with a special message!)
The rhubarb was beautifully sweet and soft – this is how you cook rhubarb! It wasn’t at all tart or fibrous and was a dream to eat with the smooth vanilla cream. The hibiscus sorbet was sour with a subtle floral hint and we enjoyed scooping up the chocolaty ‘Happy Birthday’ with our fingers! We’re not sure what the little drink was but it tasted strongly of aniseed, of which neither of us are a fan (too many Sambucas in the wild days).
Overall, this was a fab meal that was absolutely fitting to a special occasion and comes recommended from us – we felt like we were really treating ourselves and enjoyed every minute. One thing to note is that you need to set aside a whole evening – we arrived at 8pm but didn’t leave until 10.30pm. We didn’t mind as we had no other plans and it was nice not to feel rushed while you were well looked after, but don’t come in a hurry!
Overall score: 8/10
Atmosphere and surroundings: 9/10
The bill came to around £150 for two courses each, a shared dessert and a bottle of wine (plus two small complimentary dishes).
Emily and Stuart
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