Robert and I went to Rockpool for our Annual Nice Dinner Out. This is the dinner we have towards the end of the year that isn’t quite a Christmas celebration but more of a happy fuck yeah we made it through the year! I’d been meaning to try Rockpool again ever since my 2012 visit with Elaine for Elaine’s mom’s birthday. Back then it was a three/four course deal I believe so I was pleasantly surprised to find nine and ten course degustations as the only offerings for dinner. You can check the menu out here.
The lighting in Rockpool is tricky at best, and since we have a no flash photography policy when eating out these photos had to be and were all taken by Robert on his camera as opposed to my Lumix GM1.
Chicken wing with egg batter with konbu butter
This is probably the smallest piece of fried chicken I’ve ever eaten. The meat was succulent underneath the crispy skin and the flavour quite moreish.
Here you can see the remnants. Notice how hard we tried to scrape the mortar-looking bowl to get all of the konbu butter.
Pork belly with coriander, chilli and rice roll
Ocean trout rice roll
Robert had the original pork belly one pictured above. I had already informed the restaurant awhile back that I didn’t eat pork so mine was substituted with ocean trout. An extremely rich portion of ocean trout, if it was any bigger I probably wouldn’t have been able to power through the rest of the menu.
Spanner crab with tabasco, mayonnaise and soy bean
Another slightly heavy dish because of the fried and cream elements but that’s the beauty of fine dining. It’s portion control to the highest ability so you never feel gross from eating too much of one component.
Chirashi zushi of tuna, kingfish, bonito and squid
One of my favourites of the night because the presentation is absolutely stunning. Someone frame this on the wall.
(Forgotten the name of this) But I believe it was some variety of white fish (possibly whiting) with apple, radish and red date infusion.
Quite nice, interesting how the top was able to be uber crispy without sacrificing moisture as the bottom of the piece was still soft and flaky.
Mapo tofu with avocado, sea urchin and eight precious herbs
A bit of table side theatrics for diners, a stone pot is filled with soy milk and cooked. The result is silky smooth tofu prepared right there in front of you. My anti-pork dietary requirement was actually forgotten for this dish so mine had to be remade again in the kitchen.
Honey and spelt bread served with Rockpool butter and fresh ricotta
I’m usually a huge bread fiend but I was getting quite anxious at the pace in which my stomach was rapidly filling up so I limited myself to 1 slice. Any fine dining establishment worth the money never scrimps on good bread, I’m glad to report Rockpool held true to this belief.
Custard blue swimmer crab stock and sweet corn topped with blue swimmer crab and fried onion, garlic, Chinese fried bread and rose water dressing
Special off the menu surprises are always great and this is hands down the best thing I tasted all night. I don’t know how to describe how good this was, when you think of fried garlic you think of Asian meal garnishes but this was like, it’s billionaire Jay Gatsby-esque cousin. And I know it sounds weird to lead a dish description with fried condiments but it was these components that elevated the dish so that the actual crab flesh sucker punched your taste buds. I couldn’t detect much rose, much to my happiness but I’m sure it played a crucial support role in this. Saying it again, hands down the best of the night. And you can thank my waiter for explaining this convoluted dish to me twice, hence the long-titled name.
Sterling caviar with soft poached egg, crispy potato and allemande sauce
Amazing in it’s own right for the spectrum of tastes created from what are essentially fish roe, potato and egg in its root form. I wouldn’t recommend this for big eaters though as it is quite a small portion for a main.
Braised beef cheek sukiyaki (I think. I know I should be more stringent with taking notes) but I am most definitely certain there was a David Blackmore thrown in the name of this dish.
Had a major case of food envy again, as Robert increasingly climbs the foodie ranks with the grace of a mountain goat. Beginner’s luck. It really isn’t that my caviar main wasn’t good, but I think if you pitted them against each other the only thing you’d prove is that man really is essentially a meat eater.
Side greens to accompany the mains
Moscato custard with rhubarb, apple and streusel
A wonderful pre-dessert to take us into sweet territory. Pre-dessert sounds like an understatement for something that deserves a valid spot on the menu. Post-mains? I can’t imagine anyone disliking this as it ticks all the sweet boxes, a bit of sour from the rhubarb and definitely A+ for textures coming from the streusel crumble.
Valrhona chocolate and macadamia with coffee soaked prunes, malt, banana and liquorice ice cream
Robert and I fight for who gets to order what for desserts. He always makes a beeline for chocolate based desserts but the prunes and liquorice have me hesitant. As it turns out I loved most of this, even the prunes, but the liquorice is a definite deal breaker for me.
Vacherin of pandan custard with coconut parfait, jasmine sorbet and lime granita
I was having a sad-face moment again when I saw how beautiful Robert’s dessert was while mine was sitting in a ramekin. What I couldn’t see by the dimly lit room (which you can probably, based on this photo) is that it’s not actually a ramekin at all, but a kind of meringue holding everything together. I wish I got an innards shot but you masses will probably have to settle for visiting Rockpool yourself. Extremely refreshing is the middle name of the sorbet and granita and I loved the strong pandan taste (without actually tasting like fake pandan essence). For once, I actually enjoyed a coconut based dish!
To the uninformed the photo might look quite average as is my description but the original since 1984 date tart is considered one of the Holy Grail desserts in Sydney. I had a bite of this with Elaine back in 2012 when it was it’s own dessert so a much larger slice. You can throw out everything I said above about portion control, the date tart needs to come to the table as a whole slice. Or a whole tart. It’s just that good.
Giggles for the night come from the waiter bringing out (another) surprise course and wishing us ‘Happy Anniversary for Eating Out Once a Year’. So much love for any restaurant that wants give its patrons a reason to celebrate too. Perhaps we should change it to our annual Rockpool dinner? After such a fantastic experience I believe that’s definitely on the cards.
Top 3 highlights
- That spanner crab explosion with all the fried bits
- Vacherin pandan custard dessert
- Wonderful service and even more excellent company