Friday, October 26, 2007

Rockpool Bar and Grill

As soon as you pass through the entrance and walk down the dimly lit passage lined on one side by a shop front of shelves of hams, you know that this is not going to be any ordinary steak house or bistro.
The multi million dollar restaurant, adjacent to Nobu and KoKo, only the diety and James Packer know how much it really cost, is set in a large crescent shaped room.
The recently renovated terrace has an inside/outside area that looks across the Yarra at the city skyline.
There is a large well lit open kitchen with about 20 or more white clad chefs beavering away at their work.
Staff are smartly attired The receptionists are in black and the waiters are in butcher's aprons and white shirts. The room is modern with banquette seating at many tables.

It seats 150 sufficiently spaced to enable quiet conversation.
Our statuesque hostess escorted us to a central table and a few moments later a waitress appeared with the usual question "would you like something to drink?" I prefer to consider the menu before having drinks and dislike the rush to ply you with drinks
The request for wine list and menu was attended to promptly and a sourdough rye bread and salted butter quickly brought to the table.
The food: We started with a lobster omelette ($38) with an extremely tasty but rather thin prawn butter sauce. The omletter which was generously stuffed with pieces of delicate losbster would have been perfect had the omelette not been slightly overcooked so it was a little hard on the outside.

The excellent duck ragout ($19) was served with beautifully prepared, very broad paparadelle.

Not yet having read the reviews in the Australian Gourmet Traveller (best new restaurant in Australia) or The Age Good Food Guide, I was unaware of the incredible lengths to which Neil Perry goes to present his fish dishes so as to preserve the maximum flavour and ordered the wood oven roasted pidgeon ($39) which also gets mentioned in despatches. Served on a bed of raddicio with parsnip and thin slices of pear ("chef prefers it to be served medium rare") it was quite excellent.

Unfortunately the same could not be said for the barbecued rib eye Wagu steak $110 for 200 grams. After most specific instructions as to how we wished it to be cook, it was served overcooked. The waitress unhesitatingly offered to take it back and a few minutesd later returned with a steak cooked as requested. (The man in chef's uniform found floating in the Yarra with a piece of steak stuffed down his throat is thought to be a former employee at Rockpool.) The rib eye was far too thin (about 8mm) to enjoy the texture and flavour of the meat, and was not attached to a bone. It was not what was expected and was rather disappointing . At $110 the steak was served "simply"

meaning totally unaccompanied by anything (salt and pepper were on the table) obliging us to order side dishes seperately. A bit hot for a dish that expensive. The accompanying horseradish and bernaise sauces were pleasant enough. The onion rings ($6) were a little cold but the potato puree ($6) was creamy and smooth.
The famous desserts were a mixed bag. The chocolate mousse on a bed of coffee granita ($16), topped with a chocolate disc was very successful. The mousse was exceptionally rich and creamy and well modified by the icy coffee-flavoured granita.

The mille feuille ($16) looked good but was not a success.

The pastry had lost its crispness and had become rather soggy in places and was dominated by the thick layers of undistinguished cream.
We enjoyed a couple of glasses of 'o6 Beaujolais ($14 a glass) and a NZ Pannell Pronto a mere $11 per glass.
I was more than a little surprised when i checked the bill to find that we had been charged an additional $35 for a glass of champagne which we had not ordered or received.
Tea and coffee were served with a tumbler full of caramelised puffed corn.
Will we go back? Yes! To try some of the other dishes, but I will never have Wagu there again!

Score: 14.25/20


Jon! said...

Elliot, I recently ate at Rockpool and also ordered the $110 wagyu. I was a little bit dissapointed that it was served minute style, especially seeing that I had ordered "rib eye" but it was still very good - looked a lot better than yours as my blog photos will attest. The best wagyu I ate was a thick small piece at Vue de monde that was simply amazing and really allowed you to appreciate the meat as it was natural and together unlike this piece which the flattening out does not help.

It (the Rockpool steak) is also the only aged wagyu of this quality in Australia but justice is not fully done to the undoubtedly amazing meat.

I must say that the regular aged rib eye and new york steaks which I have eaten at Rockpool were sensational, twice the size, thick, on the bone, and half the price. I recommend going this way on your next visit.

Take care and Happy eating,

Frankster said...

Hi Elliot, been going through your blog archives which I am enjoying. Our RB&G wagyu experience was a little underwhelming too, meat definitely too thin to fully express its flavours and improperly seasoned to boot. I would expect that at this calibre of restaurant, salt and pepper shakers at the table would only be required for those that prefer extra (excess) seasoning. In other words, shouldn't be needed!

Unknown said...

I felt hungry when I see pictures of food.

Bryce Lodging

Elliot and Sandra said...

I must say pic's can be quite deceptive. Regardless I feel hungry too when I look back at many of these photo's!