14 Jul Rockpool Bar & Grill, Southbank
Anticipation was building as we wandered down the walkway lined with accolade upon accolade, framed and arranged lovingly on the wall…
… and past the large, buzzing open kitchen to our table, where we had an exciting view of the action on one side, and a lovely view of the river on the other. To celebrate a birthday, we had chosen Rockpool Bar and Grill, at the ‘Neil Perry end’ of the Crown complex, also home to Rosetta and Spice Temple.
We began our evening with Rockpool’s signature Four Raw Tastes of the Sea. The plate was arranged with kingfish with a cos and tea-smoked oyster dressing, ocean trout with harissa and preserved lemon, tuna with ginger and coriander, and finally a scampi ceviche.
Our second dish is one from the hot starters section of the menu – pine mushrooms and scampi with sage, burnt butter and soft white polenta. The scampi were tender and the mushrooms were meaty and flavourful, but the polenta was a little plain and we found ourselves sprinkling a bit of salt to it.
You can’t really go to Rockpool and not order a steak at least once. Both dad and I ordered a steak; he, the David Blackmore full blood wagyu (9+ marble score) topside, and me, the Cape Grim dry-aged 36 month old grass-fed rib-eye on the bone. When I was deciding between the 36 and the 60 month old steaks, the waitress explained that the 36 month old would be sweeter and more tender, whilst the 60 month old would have a more beefy, gamey flavour and more bite. After the steaks arrived we were offered a selection of mustards, harissa and BBQ sauce. Dad had already requested bearnaise to go with his steak, but we thought we’d try some of these other condiments. Both steaks were cooked perfectly and evenly throughout, with a nice, tasty charr. The wagyu had a smoother, richer texture, as expected, however I found myself leaning towards the Cape Grim rib eye because of its beefier flavour. As during my experience at Steer, I decided I preferred my steak without condiments and sauces so I could better appreciate the quality beef.
The mac and cheese with speck was rich and packed with flavour.
Wagyu fat sounded tempting, and the traditional pairing of potatoes with steak was appealing, so we ordered a side of Dutch Cream potatoes sautéed with wagyu fat, garlic and rosemary. Somewhat disappointingly, only the very small pieces of potato had crispy outer layers, and most of the pieces were dry.
Especially being a two-hatted restaurant, we came to Rockpool with high expectations. Unfortunately they were not quite met. Though there was nothing absolutely terrible with our meals, the standard of food wasn’t consistent, and a few of the dishes seemed a bit overpriced. There were a few highlights, including the pleasant and attentive service and their signature steaks, so I do hope our experience was an anomaly.
Rockpool Bar and Grill
8 Whiteman St
Southbank, VIC, 3006
(03) 8648 1900