Review: Rogues of Rotherham
Rocking some seriously swanky credentials, this oasis of effortless cool on Riccarton's Rotherham Road sports cascades of lights above the polished wooden-topped bar with a glinting copper edge (which carries through to the dining tables, where luxuriously tactile turquoise velvet booth seating meets gilded mirrors) and an impressive eagle-topped copper and brass espresso machine, while Rogue-fired pizzas are created in the cosy courtyard. We order two of the cunningly clever signature detox/retox cocktails as we peruse the menu; there’s The Green Juice Mule, which marries ginger beer, cucumber, green apple and celery with a slug of vodka to create a refreshing and considerably healthier than usual cocktail, and the Ginger Rogue (spiced black rum, Montenegro, fresh carrot juice and ginger), which becomes a fast, feisty favourite with its ginger hum.
Our upbeat, friendly French waiter Jeremy Gaudin explains the menu and specials from behind a spiffy, retro-chic apron, advising that both sparkling and still water are available on tap along with a range of New Zealand beers and wines. We start with fried mozzarella (all molten and gooey goodness beneath the crisp golden exterior and paired with a tangy tomato whip) and duck liver pâté (silky-smooth with a rich, mellow flavour and an earthy, bittersweet crunch courtesy of a sprinkling of cacao nibs and paired with Marsala-preserved cherries). Creative pairings continue to wow in the mains of delicate, light pillows of savoury ricotta gnocchi that join wilted greens, the nuttiness of artichoke hearts, sweet cherry tomatoes and a tinglingly fresh lemon pesto, while meltingly tender slow-cooked beef cheeks flake effortlessly under the fork – the hearty beefy hit is complemented by the robust, earthy sweetness of beetroot polenta and the rustic, chunky freshness of a brilliant green broad-bean pesto.