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Rockpool Bar & Grill


PhilD
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A birthday treat and a trip to Sydney’s hottest new restaurant “Rockpool Bar and Grill”. Be warned book early, we first called three weeks ago and could only get a late table on a Saturday night.

It is a spectacular space with the restaurant located in what I assume was the old banking hall of a beautiful 1930’s Art Deco building. Neil Perry has really done the space justice and has built a very stylish restaurant that adds to the grandeur of the space rather than detracting. Along one side of the restaurant is a large open kitchen, which reminded me of the some of the Terrance Conran “gastro-domes” which opened in London in the ‘80’s (Quaglinos etc). Table settings are basic, it isn’t set up to rival the fine dining subtlety of the main Rockpool restaurant, but stylish. The menu is quite lengthy with lots of choice, clearly steaks are the main event here but there are lots of other options from the grill plus interesting salads and pasta (including the signature goats cheese tortellini).

The wine list is really awesome; it comes in two volumes, one for red one for white. The cellar is founded on a portion of David Doyle’s wine collection; David is a US software billionaire who now collects great wines. He has approx $9 million of his cellar at Rockpool and it is available for us mere mortals to try. As you would expect then it is a list with lots of Grand Cru’s from Burgundy and Bordeaux but also some more reasonable wines. We drank a great ’07 Spanish Fefiñanes Albariño at $78 and a 2008 Battle of Bosworth Cab Sav from McLaren Vale at $50. Both are really good wines and were great recommendations from the barman and Sommelier respectively. I think the $50 bottle is the cheapest on the list but it is a fine wine at that price.

OK the food. My partner started with a fantastic “Tuna Tartare, Moroccan Eggplant, Cumin Mayonnaise and Harissa” at $29. The tuna is good and chunky and spankingly fresh, and the Moroccan spicing adds a wonderful dimension to the dish. This superbly conceived and executed. I chose the “Trofie with Hand Pounded Pesto, Green Beans and Potato” at $19, which was very good, the pasta (trofie) in this classic Ligurian dish was very fine and all the elements worked well, my only slight criticism is that IMO there could have been more pesto with the dish to give it a bit more punch.

We could not go past the steak section for main courses, the menu reads like a carnivores dream. My partner went for the classic “My Steak Tartare with Chips” at $25. It was good but oddly the rawness of the meat seemed to be lost in the preparation, the mixture hid the natural quality of the beef, which she had hoped would be the feature of the dish. It was good, but she felt not really as good as ones she has eaten in France. I chose the on-the-bone 79 day, 350g “Cape Grim Dry Aged 36 Month Old Grass Fed Rib-eye” at $58, this was an outstanding steak, quite possibly the best tasting and best cooked I have had. The flavour and texture was divine.

A couple of niggles though, my steak came with a béarnaise sauce, and I love béarnaise, as it is perfect with great beef. Disappointingly this is a “new” béarnaise where the tarragon (and other herbs) is added as oil on top of a hollandaise sauce. For me it really doesn’t work. I did ask for another portion hoping the first wasn’t right and the waiter had more oil added it didn’t really make much difference. The other niggle is the potato puree at $9. This isn’t an easy dish to make as it is really an emulsion of potato and butter (with an equal weight of butter and potato in the best), the result here is quite tasty but the oil had started to split out of the potato, which was disappointing. But all credit to the FOH staffs who are superb; they happily removed the dish from the bill. What is Neil Perry’s magic with FOH teams? He manages to build teams of very skilled people yet ensures they retain their personalities; they are always so good.

Overall it is a really good restaurant for a big night out; a stunning building, great service and good food. At $259 for two (50% booze) I thought it quite reasonable value, we left happy and very full – no desserts we couldn’t fit them in….!

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Hi

Sydney centric Gourmet Traveler rates this restaurant 13th in Australia with about 10 Sydney restaurants in front of it. You can do a lot better!

...and yes, I have been to all 13 of them (apart from Berowra Waters) and no doubt over the coming months we will try them again now we are back home.

From last nights experience RB&G fits into its niche very well. I don't think it is trying have the best food in Sydney, but it does deliver the "steakhouse/grill" concept really well. For a big, show-off celebration there are few places as good. It is good that the competition at the top of the Sydney restaurant scene is so strong.

PS - I will also let my wife know how disappointed I am that she only took me to the 13th best restaurant in the state for my surprise birthday dinner.

Edited by PhilD (log)
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I went to the Melbourne Rockpool Bar and Grill for lunch on Monday. We sat in the bar section, and had the wagyu burgers. They were very good, well worthy of the hype surrounding them. We also had some of the hand cut chips, which while good, really didn't justify the $12 price tag.

On the way out, we saw the display of the meat being dry aged - so I'm keen to go for dinner.

Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"
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One amusing incident at our RB&G meal, I asked if the chips were triple cooked, assuming Neil and Heston's friendship may have seen recipes traded. The waiter looked at me as though I was crazy and said no just double cooked like all chips. Does anyone know if Heston's triple cooked chips have reached Aus, if so where...?

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One amusing incident at our RB&G meal, I asked if the chips were triple cooked, assuming Neil and Heston's friendship may have seen recipes traded. The waiter looked at me as though I was crazy and said no just double cooked like all chips. Does anyone know if Heston's triple cooked chips have reached Aus, if so where...?

My place for one :wink:

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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They've got to New Zealand, too - at least in my kitchen. It does make a difference. A week or so ago I did 'normal' double-cooked chips as I didn't have time for the 'boil first' bit. They were pretty good but didn't stay crunchy as long as the triples.

Leslie Craven, aka "lesliec"
Host, eG Forumslcraven@egstaff.org

After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relatives ~ Oscar Wilde

My eG Foodblog

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