La Rock is an oasis of seriously impressive food (and drink). Hidden away down a backstreet in Sandiacre, an unremarkable town between Nottingham and Derby, this restaurant shows that a restaurateur’s vision can work in any location given ambition, flair and a highly talented kitchen.
That said, the small building that houses La Rock is a pleasing and distinctive space (with a large, free car park opposite). It used to be a slaughterhouse many years ago, but has been transformed into an intimate and sophisticated restaurant with exposed brickwork, atmospheric lighting and a cool bar. Offering 40 covers, La Rock is small but nicely done.
The food is very good indeed. On our visit, an amuse-bouche of feta between apple and cinnamon meringues on bed of walnut crumbs set the tone, followed by another unexpected little delight best described as a delicate mouthful of traditional fish & chips. The flavours were sublime, offering the perfect balance of vinegar, salt, fish, batter and potato – amazing!
Fresh paprika & spring onion bread with perfectly soft (but not too soft) butter brought further joy, before the starter of chicken teriyaki style with daikon, oriental spiced emulsion and cilantro arrived. This was as good a starter as you could hope for, with the savoury flavours working together beautifully.
The main of deconstructed beef wellington was high quality too: tender beef served with mushroom, chive pancake, jus poivrade and puff pastry.
The service is at the relaxed end of the formal spectrum, with knowledgeable staff eager to help out and guide you through the wonderful ingredients.
La Rock offers fun, playful, accessible and satisfying fine dining – a hidden gem that has to be tried.
By Matt Wright, founder and editor-in-chief