Back when I was a young whippersnapper I worked around the corner from Rockpool Bar & Grill. I was a clerk at the Department of Education; I rocked the shoulder pads suit and blonde streaked haircut, it was the 80’s and anything went. I was a man about town; well at least I thought so. Tonight I enter Rockpool Bar & Grill with no hair or shoulder pads but I’ve got something that matters more, an appetite.
I get there early, about 15 minutes before they open, graciously they let me in and I’m greeted by the front bar, its dark, alluring. I park it at a table, order a Caillard Coonawarra Cab Sav and am struck by the, wait for it, 2682 Riedel glass Chandelier draped over the bar, its incredible, imagine trying to clean this thing. Then the crew arrives, its Bun, Cam and Bron, we all love food and are a bit giddy with anticipation.
We migrate into the main dining room and its huge, not floor space wise but the elevated ceiling supported by marble columns makes it impressive. We are seated near the kitchen, which is a delight as we watch a ‘cast of a thousand’ chef’s toil away.
The waiters buzz around us, the ladies order Champagine, Cam orders a bottle of Pinot Noir, Eden Road ‘The Long Road’ from Tumbarumba, its great and kind to our wallet at under $100, the most expensive Pinot in the 204 page wine list, a 2010 Bass Phillip ‘Reserve’ from the Gippsland at $850, I’ll order that when this blog takes off.
Our main waiter gently suggests what starters may match up well with mains, which is helpful considering I’ve got 4 or 5 dishes arguing for my attention. We all make our decisions and get back to the business at hand, Bun and Bron enjoying some more Champagine whilst Cam and I ripped into the Pinot whilst dissecting Trump v Hillary.
The restaurant is humming nicely as more diners flock in, head Chef Maestro Neil Perry sure has come a long way since opening the original Rockpool in 1989, now boasting multiple restaurants in multiple cities, next one on my list will be Rosetta, his Italian offering in Melbourne at Crown, I’ll compare it to Buon Ricordo.
The starters arrive and we all dig in. I loved my sautéed prawns in garlic with farro, green olives and pitaschio, bun’s charcoal roasted Port Phillip Bay Scallops with Scallop butter were a big hit as she declared “these are the best scallops I’ve ever tasted”.
Cam enjoyed his roasted and raw baby beetroot with sheep’s curd, macadamias and mint, although he had envisioned whole baby beets instead of sliced, he also nibbled on a bone marrow dish.
We are all in full swing now, great food, wine and conversation, these are the moments you live for, there is no tomorrow as you immerse yourself into the night. The mains arrive amid a flurry of waiters, as Bron enthusiastically shares her trio of starters, the roasted scallops, wood fire quail and the char-grilled octopus. As we launch into it Bun raves about the spanner crab, roast cherry tomato and spicy prawn oil pasta, I ordered the sautéed abalone, king brown mushroom and bottarga ‘Maltagliati’ pasta.
Maltagliati meaning in Italian ‘poorly cut’, it had a great Smokey taste to it.
Cam grabbed the black lip abalone with tarragon, konbu and caper butter. As Neil Perry says “the cornerstone of good cooking is to source the finest produce”.
Well, everyone is doing a mighty fine job tonight but its not over yet as we retreat back to the bar, which by now is packed. We observe a house rule “nothing is on the house but the roof” and delve into some dark chocolate macadamia bark washed down with a few Don Julio tequila shots, oh what a night.
Summary: You won’t get much change from $200 per person but for that special occasion it is worth every penny.
hallymustang rating: 5/5