Did we just stumble onto a piece of Gotham City in Sydney? On the eve of my Birthday my very own partner in crime took me out to dinner to Neil Perry's Rockpool Bar and Grill. This is a restaurant that has forever been on my hit list and standing in front of the colossal art deco building on 66 Hunter St we were both in awe. Keeping with the Gotham theme I will be referring to myself as Batman - it's my birthday so I can do whatever I want. Gianna is just Gianna. Im Batman. Ha. Actually Gianna, you can be Penguin.
Here at the Empty Fridge, we consider birthdays a perfect excuse to go all out on our dining escapades. I think the evil Penguin had extended celebrations this year, and not to be outdone - this was the first of several birthday outings. Lucky me. I am Batman.
From the minute you step into Rockpool you can't help but feel amazed by the space inside. It is the very picture of opulence. My alter ego Bruce Wayne felt at ease in the dark and opulent surrounds. I am a sucker for all things marble with the exception of lions - I may be Greek but seeing as though I am Batman I much prefer Gargoyles.
What I loved was that from the minute we were seated I felt so comfortable for a change. I mean as simple as it may sound I really think that having a comfortable chair with the right height and cushyness makes the world of difference when dining anywhere - especially after wearing a Batsuit all day - and boy does Rockpool deliver on that front. After fighting crime all day and numerous encounters with the evil Penguin the appetite was bordering on voracious. Out comes the menu and immediately we are drawn to a few standouts. Kurobuta being the keyword. We start with the Kurobuta prosciutto and Capocollo, Rodriguez Chorizo, Blackmores Wagyu Bresola with pickles -$25.
Also added to the start were split and marinated King Prawns $30. Both dishes were good starters, somewhat of a fancier do-it-yourself surf & turf. The Wagyu Bresola was a favourite of mine as was the Kurobuta Prosciutto - both just melted in your mouth. Although thinking about it now as being somewhat odd, I rather enjoyed wrapping my split king prawns with the prosciutto. The salty meat wrapped around the perfectly cooked prawns just produced a flavour that worked really well. Fighting crime takes its toll, even on Batman. To take the edge off sometimes it takes more than good food. A nice bottle of wine really goes a long way.
With the help of the sommelier on hand, we ended up getting a half bottle of wine. Some might say that we made the mistake of driving - there is a good reason, we had a pretty big night before hand. With my reputation at stake DUI is not a good thing, even though I am Batman I think it's something that the cops wouldn't understand. We picked the 2005 Chateau de Vaudieu, Chateauneuf-du-Pape $89 - Alfred would've been proud. It was very nice and in hindsight a full bottle was needed.
Sorry Penguin but fish was just not on the cards. You had a taste with the prawns but on Batman birthday night it was all about the beef. Beef from the famous Rockpool wood-fire grill kind of beef. I knew that I needed a steak. Just knew. 350g of Cape Grim Dry Ages 36 month old grass fed cow $60. Moo. One of Neil Perry's mantras is that 'the cornerstone of good cooking is to source the finest produce' and with each bite of the steak I couldn't help but agree. Neil Perry sources his 4 types of beef from the best of the best in Australia. Humanely treated and most likely nursed to sleep with lullabies, you could really taste that these animals led good and happy lives.
Perfectly charred on the outside, pink on the inside and full of flavour - this would have to have been one of the nicest pieces of meat I had ever had. Accompanied with a variety of condiments of your choosing it's hard to go wrong with ordering this. Looking back it made me sad that the rib eye was pre cut for me. Being Batman I would've like to get something out of my utility belt to slice it up on my own. I feel that Neil Perry took this away from me and i'm not sure if I can forgive him for this. Maybe it's because he is more of a Spiderman fan.
For some sides we requested an order of the Dutch Cream Potatoes sauteed with Wagyu fat & Rosemary $10 - anything with Wagyu fat really does taste good but too much brings you closer to fatman rather than Batman. Onion rings $9 on the other hand are a vegetable so as Penguin said they can't be bad for you. Never mind the crispy, deep fried, salty outer layer of goodness.
Something that wasn't on the menu but rather a special for the evening was the pork shoulder slow cooked over the wood fire grill served with candied pears, apricots and apples $60. This dish piked the Penguin's curiosity from the start of the evening it was there to see in plain sight, rotating slowly in full view of the dining area. If that was not enough to tempt fellow diners..
The pork was juicy and succulent and the most flavoursome encountered to date. Pork is something close at heart especially for Gianna, more so when crackling is involved. If crackling is involved 9 times out of 10 that dish will be ordered. The only exception is when it's sold out (ahem Porteno). You see the Penguin loves the pig. I rather fancied the candied fruit which lucky for me were neglected in favour of the crackling. It was a good contrast to the saltiness of the pork, serving its purpose by tying the sauce and the meat together.
Looking at the photos we can see that there are a lot of Riedel glasses in Rockpool. Not as many as there are in the Wayne residence though. Specifically there are 2682 Riedel Riesling glasses in the feature chandelier in the bar area. One of the coolest chandeliers I have seen I must add. Although it wouldn't be a good place for a brawl between Batman and his many foes.
For our dessert we were moved to the bar area adjacent to the main dining hall. A smaller, darker and more informal space, it was a pleasant departure from the grandeur of the rest of the restaurant good for that post dinner wind down time. The desert we picked was the Black Forest Trifle $20 - inspired by the Fat Duck's BFG - Black Forest Gatteu Trifle.
The desert looked like something out of the 70's - so suited to the style of the bar area. It was simply amazing to eat. The sabayone was creamy and not overly sweet, the sour cherries and dark chocolate had a nice tart taste that just worked well. Hopefully the Penguin took notes so that this dish can be recreated at a later date (Yes Gianna, i'm talking to you)
On a separate note we thought that this new post would be good to trial out a new feature of our blog posts where we go through the highest high, the lowest low and our most recommended dish. The peak and the pitt do not necessarily relate to the food but rather the whole experience - as we are all about fun here at The Empty Fridge. We think it would give a consistent "in a nutshell" summary of each experience. The dish of the day would be the most memorable item we would recommend you order, or that we would order again on our next visit. Here goes.
- The Peak - Being Batman for the night and successfully not destroying the glass display
- The Pitt - The Batmobile was being serviced and it was Alfred's day off so Gianna had to drive her Yaris, therefore not the booziest of dinners.
- Empty Fridge Dish of the Day - The best steak we have had in Sydney so far, you can't possibly visit Rockpool Bar and Grill without ordering their fine specialty - the hardest decision would be choosing which cut.
It was a great birthday date night at Rockpool Bar and Grill - and as we walk away from our Gotham City hideaway for the night we do so with full bellies.
Onward to the bat cave we go.
Rockpool Bar and Grill
66 Hunter Street, Sydney 2000 02-8078 1900
Open for Lunch Mon-Fri and Dinner Mon-Sat