For over a decade, Saltwater has been one of the hotspots on Nottingham’s bar scene, boasting the biggest rooftop terrace in the city. Located in The Cornerhouse entertainment complex, it was part of the portfolio of operator Principle Leisure that went into administration a year ago but it has been reborn under the new ownership of Rocket Restaurants and Bars.
Now called Rocket at Saltwater, the venue combines the much-loved late-night atmosphere of Saltwater with the food and drink elements of Rocket’s four restaurants in London. All the Rocket sites have been designed by hospitality specialist Fusion Design & Architecture, which was brought in to create a stunning new look in Nottingham. “Every site is designed with its own personality, but they’re all identifiable as part of the Rocket family, sharing key aspects of the Rocket design DNA,” explains Fusion co-founder and director Roger Gascoigne.
“The Rocket concept is based on creating memorable, quirky, contemporary spaces for eating great pizzas and drinking wine and cocktails. Some people come to Rocket just to eat, and others just to drink, so providing different and distinct spaces for each purpose is a really important part of the design brief. At The Cornerhouse in Nottingham, Saltwater had always been a real destination place to go to so, in creating ‘Rocket at Saltwater’, we wanted to keep all the best bits of Saltwater – notably the dramatic outdoor terrace and the buzzy central bar area – and add in all the characteristics of Rocket that we know work really well.”
On top of the overall new design, Fusion came up with a stronger front bar area and a much clearer route through to the restaurant area at the back. This route is created with a stunning ceiling feature formed from gilt-framed Old Master paintings, leading to a “wine wall” that forms the entrance arch into the restaurant. “As with all the Rocket sites, strong visual elements create the distinctive Rocket feel – vibrant colours, dramatic lighting, high-quality materials and a few visual jokes,” Roger says. “So, apart from the ‘Old Masters’ and the ‘wine wall’, we’ve also created the ‘security box back bar’, the ‘pink plate wall’ and a dramatic new pergola and seating area for the terrace. At the re-opening party, one of the returning Saltwater regulars said it felt like being in St Tropez – quite a design achievement given that the site is in the East Midlands.”
Saltwater’s general manager, Nick Revill, has remained on board, with an impressive drinks list alongside the new menu of pizzas, salads and grills. The bar offers a wide range of wines by the glass and the bottle plus an extensive selection of spirits across all categories but particularly rums and whiskies. With six beers on draught, there is also a broad range of bottled beers available, from Budvar, Peroni and Duvell to Anchor Steam Amber Beer and Innis & Gunn Original Oak Aged.
There is a comprehensive list of cocktails, mainly classics and twists on classics, with a message on the menu that bartenders will make others that are not listed. But it will be a challenge to spot one that is missing, with drinks ranging from a Rob Roy and Vesper Martini to an Aviation No 1 and a Sidecar. Mainly priced around £6.70 and £7.50, they are arranged by spirits category, with whisky, bourbon, gin and rum dominating.
Rocket’s chairman James Horler, formerly of La Tasca and Ego Restaurants, fell in love with Saltwater’s iconic location years ago and felt that it would be a perfect match for the brand’s move out of London. “The interior design looks fabulous and has been created by Fusion to combine comfort and style.” With its impressive drinks list, Rocket at Saltwater also continues to be a destination for some of the best cocktails in town.
The Cornerhouse, Forman Street, Nottingham NG1 4DB
Tel: 0115 924 2664 www.rocketrestaurants.co.uk
Who did it
Interior design: Fusion Design & Architecture
Fit-out: Rocket Interiors
Signage and graphics: Academy Signs
Floor tiles: Solus Ceramics
Carpets: Christy Carpets
Lighting: Into Lighting
Electrics: Connect Electrical Services
Furniture: Design Resource