A little south of Circular Quay, on Hunter Street, sits the stunning Rockpool Bar and Grill. An upscale steakhouse in Art Deco surrounds by celebrity chef Neil Perry.
The iconic Rockpool Restaurant group had been open over 25 years gaining the love and respect from foodies all over. Their Bridge Street edition currently holds the award for best restaurant in Australia 2016 by the Australian Gourmet Traveller Magazine with the likes of Kevin Costner, Sylvester Stallone and Bill Clinton enjoying the established menu.
The Bar and Grill is stunning. As soon as you walk in, your attention is drawn to a breathtaking and dramatic mix of Art Deco panache, perfected mood lighting and sky high columns among shimmering mirrors and black leather, it’s a beautiful dining space and had the service and food to match.
The 60+ dish menu is the perfect mix of modern dining and nostalgia (if you’re Aussie and grew up on creamed corn) and the bar and grill element is a give away to how it’s all cooked with both steak and seafood options stealing the show. Most mains are around $45-$55 with sides ordered for another $9 or so while wine is chosen from their 3500 bottle list!
Each member of staff provided their own specialty knowledge, from entree drinks to desert and we were always informed to the very last detail helping us to make our decision. Service was sound throughout, our water glasses never reaching empty and there was never a moment where we needed something we hadn’t already been offered. Now, in the excitement of all the amazing food…I didn’t stop to take pictures as I was so desperate to taste what was in front of me so I’ve had to borrow images from other more patient bloggers!
To start, we ordered the Four Raw Tastes Of The Sea ($32), Sautéed Prawns in Garlic with Farro, Green Olives and Pistachios ($28), Charcoal Roast Squid and Pork Belly($28) and the Live South Australian Clams ($30). My four raw tastes included tuna, kingfish, ocean trout and scampi all topped with their own delectable flavour that complimented each piece and mad pie every bite brand new and bursting with flavour. I was able to pinch a little of James’ Squid and Pork Belly, cooked with chilli, caramelised onion and cherry tomato in a beautiful smokey, oily sauce…I was a little jealous. The clams were steamed with Serrano ham, white wine and flageolet beans and made an excellent sauce for mopping with bread! I didn’t taste the prawns but was informed they exceeded expectations! We were all more than satisfied with the start to our evening.
There was just enough time between courses to check drink levels and pop to the toilet, located upstairs from the restaurant (my only fault with the toilets is that the hand wash is doubled rather than the typical hand wash and hand lotion which caused me to was my hands twice!). Each of our meaty mains arrived and we were all surprised at the amount on each plate. I had chosen the Red Gate Farm duck with grilled mango ($55) which included the entire breast, leg and rib while Philippa had the Milly Hill lamb chops and cutlets ($52)…6 of them! James went with the homely wood fire grilled homemade pork sausages with zucchini, feta and burnt red onion salad ($35) and got 4 chunky sausages and finally Clive selected the 350g 36 month old grass fed rib eye ($60). For our accompanying sides we chose mixed greens, onion rings and potato and cabbage gratin.
It was all very flavoursome, filling and satisfying! I loved the sweet grilled mango that pierced through each juicy, tender bite of duck and the gratin went perfectly, adding a creamy delicious texture. I would have maybe preferred the duck to have been cooked slightly more pink in colour but I couldn’t fault the meal as a whole. Everyone finished and hadn’t a bad word to say, even the birthday boys sausages had out a smile on his face!
We had certainly had our fill and probably could’ve have stopped there…but why would you! Along came deserts. Just the three of us ordered and we all shared (James was brought a complimentary chocolate and marscapone cupcake, complete with birthday candle) while the rest of the table was presented with Pineapple and Smoked Coconut Bomb, Cherry and White Chocolate Macaron Sandwich and Waffles with Blueberry and Creme Fraiche ice cream. Desert was always the highlight of the meal for me while growing up, however, with age my tastebuds and preferences have changed and I very rarely enjoy desert more than its predecessors and that remained the same here. That may have been because the starter and mains were just excellent and couldn’t be topped but I can’t help but feel like the deserts could’ve been a little stronger. The macaron was essentially a slab of sorbet and I couldn’t taste any white chocolate, while the waffle looked a little lonely and dry with just a few pieces of fruit on top. The best was the Pineapple bomb, Rockpools take on baked Alaska, which provided a great mix of flavours and textures.
That said, I had the perfect little taster of fresh sorbet and fruit to cleanse my palette and round off the evening and I thoroughly enjoyed the food, the duck being the highlight for me. I think its safe to say everyone was impressed and left the restaurant satisfied. I have also found out there is a Rockpool Bar and Grill in Melbourne so I’m sure we will be visiting again!