Rockpool bar and grill
Melbourne is hardly new to Neil Perry’s invading restaurant empire, with new additions every few years, they are all anchored down the west end (*ahem steep priced section) of Crown. Today we head to the original Rockpool bar and grill, opened back in 2006, which took inspiration from its sister restaurant in Sydney. Being a steakhouse at its heart, the focus here is in its dry-aged beef. No doubt all aspects of the running menu tries its best to put forth the quality ingredients – in Neil Perry’s own words “The cornerstone of good cooking is to source the finest produce”.
With hardly a living soul walking along the yarra in the extreme heat of 40 degrees, I was surprised we chose such a day for my first visit to Rockpool. The interior is in simple words – very woody. There are much timber, leather and brown earthy tones throughout, and plenty of middle aged executives having an extended lunch (on that day), which left an impression that crosses between boardroom uptight and laidback vibe of a Gentleman’s club. Still classy though. =)
Warm salad of Wood fire grilled Quail with smoked tomatoes and black olives. There isn’t much to complain here. The flesh is moist with a tender firmness. The lightly charred skin and oil based sauce offers the right balance of seasoning, and lip-licking flavours. Licks of acidity (tomato) and scattered cuts of creamy earth (olive) help keep things rounded. There wasn’t much in the way of “salad” if one was to nit-pick.
Hand cut linguini with spanner crab and spicy prawn oil. I was much less impressed by this pasta dish, which was over-cooked leaving no evidence of al-dente to be found on each bite. I wouldn’t for a minute doubt the quality of the produce or even the mildly spicy but punchy flavours presented here, but feel let down by the pasta for a plate that costs $32.
I would be inclined to suggest trying the pasta at Neil Perry’s new child Rosetta, where there is a dedicated pasta chef, but I have yet to try it myself. Anyone been and had good experience?
Cape Grim Dry aged 36 month old grass fed – Rib-Eye on the bone 350g 45 days. At $60 a pop (or a slab rather), I had very high expectations for this steak. Was I impressed? And did I feel it deserved the price tag? Yes and no.
Sure there is a certain disbelief when all you get on your plate is literally your steak and a choice of condiment sauce. But, when what you get is a perfectly seared steak to pink perfection, and is in every way enjoyable – moist, unctuous, a little nutty in flavour, with a smoky aroma that wraps the perfectly browned crust – I think this fact is quickly forgiven.
It is simple and indulgent. Simple would probably be the last word one would use for a steak, but the minimalism and perfection presented without much distraction really deserves these oxymoron labels. I probably would not be having a steak here every week, but once in a while for a bit of indulgence.
Pumpkin and sweet potato with burnt butter and garlic yoghurt
Radicchio, cos and endive salad with palm sugar vinaigrette
Rating: Yummy+1.5. Though there certainly have been mixed reviews with some criticism for Rockpool’s consistency, on my visit the steaks were immaculately brilliant (so far 1 out of 1, *ahem). The produce is beautiful, undeniably. But price is probably the main rate limiting factor for frequent return visits.
P.S. I shall have to return for dessert options also next time. I would not be blaming you if you are thinking I have gone crazy. A meal without dessert…
[Rockpool bar and grill, Melbourne]
Where: Crown Casino, Whiteman St, Southbank.
Contact: 03 8648 1900
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