Thursday, December 24, 2009

Review : Rockpool Bar & Grill

66 Hunter Street

Lunch Monday to Friday
Dinner Monday to Saturday

Every Christmas Eve Buggles & I like to have a quiet celebratory lunch....celebrating another year of putting up with each other and managing not to kill each other. Usually this lunch is at Bistro Moncur however, after my lunch at Spice Temple (sans Buggles...and yes she is VERY jealous), I felt I needed more Neil Perry, so we decided to head to Rockpool Bar & Grill.

This was our second visit to Rockpool B & G, our first visit was unbelievably good, so of course we were exicited & anticipated another great meal....we were not disappointed.
Rockpool Bar & Grill is located in the art deco City Mutual Building and is a truly beautiful dining space. The tables are reasonably well spaced, with large, very comfortable seating.
On being seated we order our standard sparkling mineral water ($7.50 pp unlimited refills).
On opening the drinks menu you are presented with the Rockpool B & G House Rules, some of which include
Don’t look fiercely at people, or talk loudly or harshly, but cultivate
a smiling countenance and a quiet, but firm tone of speech
Gentlemen, don’t approach ladies; and if you are so lucky to have
one approach you, endear her as you would your mother
No hooting, no hollering 
Remember, nothing is on the house but the roof....
...all very tongue in cheek.

After perusing the drinks menu Buggles decides on the Pineapple & Ginger Soda ($9), bespoke pineapple and ginger sodas combined with fresh lime, Angostura bitters and a hint of slapped mint while I choose the Rockpool Orange Shrubb ($13), Appleton V/X macerated with orange zest, juice and sugar, served neat (according to the menu, a shrubb is an idea first penned in 1862 by the great American bartender Jerry Thomas. Basically it involves changing entirely the molecular makeup of a spirit by using a simple method of maceration). Both drinks...divine.

The food menu is extensive to say the least & deciding what to order is no easy feat. After some deliberation Buggles settles on Tuna Tartare, Moroccan Eggplant, Cumin Mayonnaise and Harissa ($29) and I on the Sautéed White Asparagus with Shiitake Mushrooms, Slow Cooked Hens Egg, Burnt Butter and Parmesan ($21).

Buggles' tuna dish was very good. The raw tuna silky & smooth - but subtly spiced, the cumin mayonnaise was a cool contrast to the meatiness of the tuna and the harissa bound everything together with a warm afterglow in the mouth!

I can rarely go past anything that involves slow cooked hens eggs (especially after Perry introduced me to their delights at his flagship restaurant with the Best-ever Bacon and Egg sandwich - believe me it had to be experienced to be believed!)
On this occasion however the egg was paired with white asparagus and mushroom.  The flavours here had an earthiness that contrasted well with the richness of the egg and complemented beautifully with that gorgeous burnt butter and nuttiness of the parmesan.  The meal had started well!

But now we had arrived at the real reason we love Rockpool Bar & Grill - the meat.  We enjoy a good steak, and have enjoyed many good steaks across restaurants in Sydney, and until this point we believed that the best steak to be had in Sydney was at Bistro Moncur, but I've got to tell you, we do believe that the steak at Rockpool Bar & Grill may (we cannot confirm this until a few more samplings at both venues have taken place, of course) have taken over. On this occasion we ordered two different cuts.

We both ordered the Cape Grim Dry aged (36 month) Grass fed meat, but Buggles went for the 250g fillet, and I settled on the 350g Rib Eye on the bone. Now we know that many people will view the pictures and be a bit astounded at paying the  money (around $55) for what amounts to a few pieces of meat on a plate with a slice of lemon, but I can tell you, that this could only be felt by those who had not tasted it. That meat was so tender, so flavoursome, so perfectly cooked and seasoned that it reminds you why we need to eat meat - because it tastes so good! The steaks all come accompanied by a selection of condiments to choose from, and on this occasion we both decided on the horseradish cream.  The deep, but mellow heat of the cream is paired beautifully with the juicy, sweetness of this meat. 

Now, this is Buggles & Squeak so don't worry... we ordered sides - the Hand Cut Potato Chips and the Charcoal Oven Roast Pumpkin and Sweet Potato with garlic yogurt and burnt butter. Chips had the requisite crispiness on the outside with the fluffy potato inside, and the smokiness of the pumpkin with the tartness of the yogurt was really delicious.

By this stage we are pretty full. As we all know, however, the genius of the human body lies in the fact that all humans are created with a separate dessert stomach, and it is Christmas, so we needed to get our bellies into training - so after a bit of settling time, we look over what is on offer in the sweet department. 

Buggles loves herself a tart and, once again, until this point has believed that Bistro Moncur have the best on offer with their amazing apple tart.  The key in her opinion is the pastry. So, she occasionally orders tarts with some trepidation - believing that she may be disappointed. Feeling confidence in the Rockpool Bar and Grill experience thus far, she orders the Strawberry tart with Balsamic Ice Cream.  She was not disappointed. The texture of the pastry was perfect. It 'snapped' and was buttery and ...perfect. It was accompanied by a variety of textures of strawberry in many ways with the fresh strawberries, glazed starwberries and a scattering of dehydrated strawberries that had a real intensity to their flavour. All of this accompanied by the surprisingly delicious balsamic ice cream - it was really good.

I am a big fan of Heston Blumenthal of The Fat Duck fame, and the Black Forest Trifle (inspired by The Fat Duck's BFG) was too tantalising to ignore. When it arrived, it was large and quite 'plain' looking.  But this was a deceptive veneer for the delights that lay below the surface. It was chocolatey, rich, sumptious, creamy, tart, and amazing. I cannot say much more - just go and try it.  It probably could be shared... but why would you want to?
So the meal ended with a coffee and the ever present green tea - and a take away order for their delicious salted caramel toffees. We went away thinking that Santa came equipped with his very own pony-tail!

Squeak (with some Buggles involvement)

Rockpool Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very entertaining review - we'll be going this weekend so look forward to the experience!