People always ask me “What’s your favorite restaurant in Greenville”? When I consider all my equally delicious options, I tend to lean towards the places I eat at time and time again: Sidewall Pizza being one of those places. The reason being that Sidewall Pizza is about so much more than just good pizza. With a different flavor of homemade ice cream each day, hot sauce made from scratch and salads that almost rival the pizza, Sidewall Pizza is a goldmine. So, when the rumors began that owner Andy O’Mara was going to open a new restaurant in Travelers Rest the city of Greenville was buzzing with excitement. Having only opened their doors a few weeks ago, Rocket Surgery has already lived up to the hype, focusing on the art of craft cocktails and elevated snacks. With a simple, casual atmosphere including large doors that let in a nice breeze, Rocket Surgery is the kind of place where relaxation is all but guaranteed.
As to be expected with one of Andy’s ventures, Rocket Surgery has a whole lot to offer besides just tasty food. Equally as impressive, their signature libations are raising the bar for handcrafted cocktails in The Upstate. Their drink menu is listed in order of booziness making the decision process a little easier on us all, and priced at $10 or less per cocktail. Can’t decide? Name your spirit of choice or favorite flavors and let the bartenders work their magic. My drink of choice is the Gabrielle consisting of gin, elderflower, gentian, honey, lemon and bitters. Not too sweet, a little floral, and slightly bitter, this cocktail is right up my alley.
What style of food would you expect from a cocktail bar? Snacks, burgers, maybe something sweet… Rocket Surgery has all those options, but takes well-known “bar food” and turns it into something unique. Take their Fried Calamari, for example. Crispy pieces of calamari don’t just come with a side of marinara sauce, but instead are tossed in butter, garlic, roasted red peppers, sweet banana peppers, hot cherry peppers and kalamata olives then topped with a sprinkle of pecorino cheese. Something about the simple addition of peppers takes an okay appetizer and turns it into a complex, mouth-watering dish.
Other scrumptious snacks include a straightforward Shrimp Cocktail with spicy cocktail sauce, Stuffed Olives perfect for dipping into their roasted garlic aioli and a unanimous favorite of our table, Crispy Brussels Sprouts tossed in a honey lemon sriracha glaze. Remember when brussels sprouts used to be everyone’s most-hated vegetable? That’s certainly not the case anymore. Especially when they get extra-crispy and then coated in a sweet and spicy sauce that makes you forget you’re eating a vegetable.
Rocket Surgery does their burgers a little bit different too, by offering a wide-variety of “Snack-Size” portions, or what you may more commonly know as “sliders”. Order 1 if you just want a snack, or 2-3 for a full meal. They have everything from your traditional certified angus beef patty served with ketchup, Dijon mustard, butter lettuce, tomato and red onion, to a lamb patty with feta, spicy harissa and fresh spinach. Much to my surprise, being the meat lover that I am, the burger that stole my heart was the Falafel burger with pickled cucumber and tzatziki. The falafel patty itself is creamy and full of flavor with a punch of acidity from the pickled cucumber and light, refreshing tzatziki. I must note: Not only do all the burgers from Rocket Surgery come on a house made brioche bun, but they even make their ketchup, Dijon mustard, aioli, sauces and dressings in house!
Be sure to follow Rocket Surgery on social media because along with their usual menu items, they offer dinner specials like this Hot Chicken Sandwich topped with butter pickles, garlic aioli, and served on the most delicious brioche bun in all the land. Here in the south, we take our fried chicken pretty seriously, and Rocket Surgery meets all my expectations with their spicy rendition of a southern classic.
When a restaurant bakes their own brioche bread fresh every day, and they have Bread Pudding on the menu, you order it no questions asked. An astounding “mmmmm” fell over the table as we took our first bites of this decadent dessert. This is no average bread pudding; trust me I’ve tried a lot. Rocket Surgerypours an almost sinful bourbon cream sauce over the pieces of brioche bread then tops the dish with toasted pecans. Needless to say there were no leftovers.
Rocket Surgery is open Monday and Thursday from 5:00PM-10:00PM and Friday – Saturday from 5:00PM-11:00PM. Don’t miss their Sunday brunch from 10:00AM to 3:00PM! I’ve heard they’ve got hot donuts…and, of course, boozy cocktails.