A Renaissance, Rockpool est. 1989
Restaurant: Rockpool est. 1989
Location: 11 Bridge Street, Sydney NSW 2000
Chef: Peter Robertson
Hats: 3 (2015)
Sometimes it is nice to reward those you work with, especially if they happen to be your employees as well as your colleagues. With that thought circling our minds the Foodie Mookie crew embark on a reward plan suitable to Foodie Mookie style – a dinner at the resurgent star in Neil Perry’s empire – Rockpool est. 1989. I had previously visited with a business colleague just after the restaurant opened at its new locale and was quietly impressed despite the venue having such dim lighting. At the time, Mookie was interstate and she was quite disappointed to have missed out. So, with much joking to my co-workers about having to bring a torch if they wanted to actually see the food, we set out on our culinary adventure with they and their significant others.
We arrive, courtesy of Uber, just as the doors open and are lead to a wing of the ground floor tucked away in an alcove around a corner from the entry. The ladies avail themselves of cocktails/mocktails and the gents share a glass of Chablis (Raveneau, Montee de Tonnerre, 2012). I order some oysters to start, Chablis and oysters being one of my favourite pairings. The coffin bay oysters arrive with white turmeric pickle but though it sounds interesting I leave it aside. A dash of lemon is sufficient for my tastes. Mookie leaves her cocktail unfinished, unable to resist the oysters and pilfers from my glass of Chablis – naughty Mookie.
The party proceeds with the degustation, half of us are having the wine match to share which always seems to be sufficient. We start the courses proper with enriched Koshihikari rice with Kingfish and Avocado. The creaminess of the avocado, the sweetness of the rice and the clean fish flavour of the kingfish are well matched as evidenced in any kingfish and avocado roll (minus the nori). What takes this dish to a different stratosphere is the sauce over the enriched rice. It adds a complexity of flavour that makes the dish, whilst simple, sublime. The drink match is a couple of sakes, one smooth and one textured.
Next arrives white spine sea urchin with Bearnaise custard, Mirrin foam and an interesting “sweetened petal” topping. The lightness of the mirrin foam and sweet petal topping works well with the inate sweetness of the sea urchin. Its a pleasant way further into the meal.
Port Phillip scallops with squid ink, bread crumbs and chilli arrive. I look at the thick sauce and wonder if its as rich as it looks. Its is and I must say that this dish was out of place in the meal. The salty rich squid ink sauce and over-powered what was quite a small sweet scallop. The sauce was served at the table and I have to wonder if it was served by the chef whether there would have been such an over-abundance provided. Unfortunately a dish best forgotten, I reach quickly for the sparkling water.
Ocean Trout, nori, new season asparagus and coriander butter arrived next to the other diners at the table which looks lovely and apparently tastes fantastic. I am feeling a little left out even though I am having the Sterling caviar with soft poached egg, crispy potato & allemande sauce. The mixture of soft poached egg and salty caviar is a classic combination with the simply creamy richness of the egg yolk and the headiness of the allemande sauce. The potato netting offers great a great visual and textural element. Sometimes its the most simple and classical of combinations that are the most rewarding and this is one of those classics. Isolating though it was, I am glad that I choose this over the ocean trout even though Mookie seemed very happy with her ocean trout (amazing given her dislike for coriander).
The last of the Chablis finds its way to my glass as I clear my palate and I ask the sommelier to recommend a nice earthy Italian red (completely but pleasantly coincidental given her Italian origins) as it is a favourite of one of our “significant other” guests. Honey spelt bread, with house made butter and ricotta is served, the ricotta is my preferred spread and the spelt bread is wonderfully fresh and slightly warm. Its a nice interlude. A bold, is there really any other type, Borolo (Elio Altare 2008) arrives. Its deep earthiness (spices), red fruits and roses common to most good Barolos. In truth a 2009 was a better year but the 2008 is still grand – soft tannin and a long finish making this a wine to enjoy slowly.
Char Sui partridge with new potatoes arrive. Probably a little over powered by wine but still lovely. Some of our guests are a little offput by the rareness of the breast but, for me, that is the only way to eat partridge if you want to enjoy it. The cabbage offers a light acidity to cut through the gaminess of the partridge. Mookie has chosen the Moreton Bay bug tail, strozzapreti, shellfish and kombu butter sauce as an alternate to the partridge. She is astounded at the flavour and insists that I have a bite – ring a bell we have a winner for dish of the night! Wow! And what a unintended but beautiful match to the wine.
Wagyu beef with sesame dressing arrives next, the beef is a little fatty as the method of cooking doesnt allow enough heat over duration to render the extreme amount of fattiness in the David Blackmore wagyu. Look at the photo and you will see what I am raising. The dish has a pleasant flavour once you get past the fattiness. We continue to enjoy the Barolo, sitting back for a short break to digest.
Vacherin of pandan custard with coconut parfait, jasmine sorbet and lime granita. This is a lovely palate cleanser and is wine match to an incredible Riesling (Georg Brau, Auslese, 2013). Finally arrives the dessert – Valhrona chocolate and macadamia with coffee soaked prune, malt, banana and licorice ice cream. Its a lovely finish to the evening and it has been a lovely evening with the staff. Its good to see that the flagship for Neil Perry’s Rockpool empire has entered its renaissance, thanks in no small part to chef Peter Robertson.