Cited as London’s Newest Cocktail Bar, Rockwell is located in The Trafalgar St James, a five star hotel, owned by the Hilton brand, in central London. Billed on its website as a bar where “Darwin meets Dali” and as a “destination to indulge the escapist” in everyone, it warns guests of teleportation from the chaos of central London to “a sanctuary of the surreal and unfamiliar”.
With all of that in mind, and aptly located for a decent Saturday night out, my partner and I made reservations to dine at Rockwell recently. Dating back to 1903, the hotel was previously home to the Cunard Steamship Company and it was in this very hotel where the news of the Titanic’s sinking was broken, following a message from the Carpathia. Fully renovated just two years ago, the environment of the hotel and bar areas manage to maintain a chic air often diminished by the presence of tourists in so many other locations.
Opened in May 2019, Rockwell is one of those places, filled with the aroma of incense from the second you step through the door. Not at all overpowering, it is on this occasion relatively pleasant. Escorted to our table, we purchased some drinks first off, deciding to wait an hour or so before ordering food. I picked their Tangerine Capybara, a bright orange drink consisting of Cocoa Butter Embargo Rum, Ron de Jeremy Spiced Rum, lime juice, papaya and mango puree and apple and elderflower juice. Although refreshing, this drink was a bit of a let down. If I am opting for a cocktail I do generally prefer something with a Bourbon base but I did think this would be a nice change.
When food time came around, we opted for one hummus with grilled flatbread and one tuna ceviche taco. As with most of our starters, so we can try as many things as possible, I order one, my partner orders another and we do half and half, which worked brilliantly this time around. One of those places where the wait staff seem to just memorize everything you order and do not make any note of it, which I don’t think ever works that well, we mistakenly received tuna tartare with avocado and ginger, instead of the tacos, which we promptly sent back… after taking a picture of it!
For our main courses, I picked grilled salmon with a rocket and parmesan salad with skin on, rosemary fries, topped with more parmesan. The salmon was served exactly how I like it with the skin just the right amount of crispy, no bones and not over dressed.
My Mr ordered the London ale battered cod and chips, served with tartre sauce and lemon. The chips here were gigantic and more similar to roast potatoes than fries. From what my partner advised, this dish was shockingly average for its £16 price tag, as the batter on much of the fish was disappointingly soggy. I am not one for fish and chips at the best of times, so I do not know if this is a famously bad faux pas, or if this is a way of cooking the fish?
Deciding to skip dessert as our food had been surprisingly filling, overall we would return to the Rockwell in the future. The cocktails they offer are not the best for their £13/15 average, but their food is a definite pull back for me. The atmosphere is everything you could want in a bar/restaurant, with prominent jazz playing over the sound system, yet not invasive enough to prevent conversation. Looking around at the crowd in this place, it seems to be a popular jaunt for groups of
basic young women starting their Saturday evenings with one expensive glass of something, and with many an older gentlemen on dates with skinny, twenty something ladies. Either way, there is a lot to see and much to discuss if you want to practice the art of people watching.
Have you ever been to Rockwell? Does it sound like somewhere you would like to try? Let me know in the comments below.