Medium-rare steaks, novel-length wine lists and an incredible lime and coconut sorbet all under one soaring, green marbled roof. This fine dining venue is a steakhouse at heart so expect woodfire grilled dry aged beef and be surprised by the pasta dishes and dessert.
It’s hard not to be awestruck upon entering Neil Perry’s Rockpool Bar & Grill, which has appeared on ‘best of’ lists since opening its doors in the 2000s. Situated within the City Mutual Building, an American-style art deco skyscraper on Hunter Street, the venue boasts dramatic high ceilings, imposing green marbled columns and dark timber which exudes the opulence of a bygone era. Having only dined at the restaurant’s older sibling by the same name at Crown Melbourne, a visit to my “local” Rockpool Bar & Grill was long overdue.
Despite the grandeur of the surroundings, I was surprised by the extensive yet uncomplicated menu, which clearly highlights that this is first and foremost a steakhouse. Sure, there’s caviar with crème fraîche and a $320 wagyu rib eye on the bone, but on the other hand — mac and cheese, mushy peas and lamb chops with mint jelly.
Salad of Peas, Broad Beans, Sugar Snaps and Snow Peas with House Made Ricotta ($26)
First up, a vibrant tangle of peas, broad beans, sugar snaps and snow peas over a dollop of house-made ricotta, sprinkled with puffed grains. The different textures and fresh, springtime flavours made for a beautiful, light and palate-cleansing starter.
Grilled Figs with Stracciatella, Almonds and Parma Prosciutto ($29)
From the ‘Hot Starters’ section, we couldn’t go past the grilled figs with fresh, creamy stracciatella cheese, added crunch from chopped almonds and paper-thin sheets of parma prosciutto, which added a lovely, salty element.
Wagyu Shin Ragu with Hand Cut Pappardelle and Pecorino ($29)
Although a steakhouse through and through, it would be unwise to ignore Rockpool’s pasta offering, in my opinion. The rich, meltingly tender wagyu shin ragu itself could have been accentuated further with an extra pinch of salt, however, what really blew me away were the silky, thin sheets of pappardelle hand-cut with military precision.
Seared King Prawns with Goats Cheese Tortellini, Burnt Butter, Pine Nuts & Raisins ($39)
Although some may scoff at the idea of bypassing steak for seven little cushions of pasta, this dish, in my opinion, is not one to miss — although a dining partner who shares is the ideal solution. Three plump king prawns served on a throne of perfectly formed tortellini filled with light, airy goats cheese. The tart filling was perfectly balanced by the beautifully rich and velvety burnt butter sauce and pops of sweet raisin.
Cape Grim Dry Aged 36 Month Old Grass Fed T-Bone 450g 38 days ($59)
Then there’s the steak. Presented simply on a white plate with a wedge of fresh lemon, the t-bone was cut uniformly into pieces, exposing the bright blush of its medium rare centre. In quick succession, the waiter offered Rockpool’s “condiment service”, a tray of mustards, barbecue sauce, harissa, béarnaise and horseradish cream. Although deliciously juicy with a wonderful flavour, the strip I sampled was unfortunately jaw-achingly chewy. Perhaps my piece was a dud or perhaps I’m comparing directly to my favourite restaurant of 2018 — Bistecca, which specialises in t-bone steak, but overall, I expected more given the $59 price tag.
Cape Grim Dry Aged Vintage 60 Month Old Grass Fed Fillet ‘Minute Style’ with Café de Paris Butter 250g ($59)
Hand Cut Fat Chips ($15)
After scratching my head over the t-bone, I was delighted by the reassuringly tender dry aged vintage 60-month-old fillet. The surprise for me with this one, however, was the Café de Paris butter, which had a potent curry powder flavour and aroma. After some research, it looks like this is common in the flavoured butter and sometimes used interchangeably with dijon mustard. Although not my favourite steak pairing out of personal preference, I really do recommend trying the Cape Grim Dry Aged Vintage 60-Month-Old Grass Fed beef (try saying that one quickly 10 times!) if you visit Rockpool Bar & Grill.
Flourless Chocolate Cake with Raspberries and Chantilly Cream ($25)
As far as chocolate cake goes, Perry’s version is 10/10 — rich and fudgy with a wonderful texture and studded with petal-soft raspberries. The quenelle of lightly sweet chantilly cream dusted with freeze-dried raspberries was the perfect accompaniment to cut through the decadent chocolate flavour.
Coconut & Lime Sorbet with Toasted Coconut and Mango ($22)
As good as the chocolate cake was, it didn’t beat this tropical dessert, which is an excellent option for those seeking a light and refreshing finale. The sorbet, surrounded by a halo of toasted coconut and fresh mango, had a beautiful texture and a stunning flavour profile featuring zesty lime expertly balanced with mellow, sweet coconut.
For a steakhouse, unfortunately, I wasn’t blown away by the steak as the t-bone was particularly chewy despite being cooked perfectly medium-rare. The Cape Grim Dry Aged Vintage 60-Month-Old Grass Fed Fillet (still a tongue twister), however, was a beautiful piece of beef, which I would order plain without the Cafe de Paris butter next time. Highlights for me included the salad of peas with ricotta, both pasta dishes — although the ragu pappardelle could have used a little extra seasoning, and the coconut lime dessert.
This post is based on an independently paid visit to Rockpool Bar & Grill. All opinions, comments and photos are 100% honest and my own.
Rockpool Bar & Grill
66 Hunter St, Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 8099 7077
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