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The Rocket Bakery & Fresh Food

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What: Rocket Bakery & Fresh Food
Where:  272 Water St
Style: Bakery, Cafe, Specialty Grocery
Price: $2  – $25

Rating: 4 out of 5

 

 

 

The Rocket Bakery is THE coffee house for many in downtown St. John’s these days. Open for a little under a year in the former Auntie Crae’s space on Water Street, Rocket is a bright and lively jewel in the crown of local business man Dave Hopley, who with partners has brought us local mainstays such as Pi Gourmet Eatery, Living Planet T-shirts, and the new Living Planet/Johnny Ruth department store.

When Auntie Crae’s shut its doors in December of 2010, Hopley and company were quick to scoop up the well loved space, ensuring downtown would still have a bakery/cafe/specialty grocer. Much of the original architectecture and charm has been maintained, while a bit of cosmetic work and a brighter pastel-based pallette changes the vibe from the old fashioned general store style of Auntie Crae’s to the hip and modern functional space it is today.

The public have been very quick to embrace Rocket and it is always bustling with activity, a real sense of community has emerged. So much so that Rocket hosts a variety of events in both its common room eating area and its larger Rocket Room space on the third floor. Everything from live music at lunch and in the evenings, to yoga classes, craft groups, and book and rummage sales happen at Rocket. Nova Scotian folk music legend Old Man Leudeke played a show in the Rocket Room recently to much fanfare, and Hawksley Workman reportedly stopped by on his recent St. John’s visit as well.

It’s more than just great coffee and community spirit that keeps Rocket full all day and into the night. That is a huge part of it, granted, with such great organic, fair-trade Canadian roasted beans and an expert barista on staff, but there’s much more. Rocket offers a full service bakery, with a variety of breads available fresh everyday. There’s even some wheat free options, with every Wednesday being almost entirely wheat free.

Their croissants are the perfect combination of light and flaky with a taste of butter and are available in plain, chocolate, almond, and apricot, and are a perfect complement to your coffee. There’s also pastries and other sweet confections galore, most notably their cream puffs, chocolate ganache-covered profiteroles, bread pudding, hand-dipped chocolate nut clusters, and cakes so beautifully decorated you almost don’t want to eat them.

Rocket also has more than plenty to offer at their deli counter. From soups, salads, and sandwiches to more substantial and unique options like schiacciata(a type of flatbread pizza), epanadas, pot pies, touteries, and quiches, there’s something new to try just about everyday. Some of their greatest hits include their lamb and Guinness pie, a hearty stout beer and meat filling in golden flaky crust, their lasagna, massively portioned with a rich, meaty sauce and plenty of cheese, and their pulled pork sandwiches served up on fresh baked french loaf with a side of slaw made from carrots, green apples, and cilantro.

There’s plenty for vegetarians too, like the black bean and goat cheese epanada, lentil and chickpea salads, and quiches full of veggies and flavor. My personal favorite is their greek chicken sandwich, a mix of grilled chicken breast, tzatziki, feta, cucumber, tomato, and red onion, all on fresh, golden, chewy flat bread. It’s like a high end greek souvlaki!

You can keep track of Rocket’s rotating and varied menu by signing up for their Rocketblast Newsletter, put together by Co-Owner and Sales and Marketing Manager Kelly Mansell. Via email, you’ll receive the menu for the day as well as info on any events Rocket is hosting in their common room or the Rocket Room. This is a great way to interact with customers and another innovation that keeps Rocket ahead of the pack.

There’s not much to improve upon really, Rocket is an efficently run business with quality food. They know and understand their customer for the most part and appreciate feedback, making changes as needed. Staff are in general very pleasant and know and love the food they prepare and serve.

There are only a a few things that need a bit of work. There’s only one cash register at the moment, and it can be confusing and at times slow. More seating would be a sound investment as well, as the common room is almost always full and patrons tend to linger.  Who could blame them though when the space is so comfortable and welcoming.

Rocket is open 7 days a week, Monday to Friday from 7:30 am – 10:00 pm, Saturday from 8:00 am – 10:00 pm, and Sundays from 9:00 am – 6:00 pm. Prices run from about $2 for a coffee to around $20 for a full meal, well worth it when you consider the quality of the food itself, which is exceptional.

By: Vanessa Wade
Image courtesy The Rocket Facebook page

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