I had originally planned to go to Rockpool Bar and Grill with my New York travel buddy Miss M. We were going to catch up one Thursday night after work and plan our Big Apple escapes. Alas Miss M was sick the night of our scheduled rendezvous so we postponed to the following week, however she forgot she had a work function on. The following week sounded good to both of us so we locked it in our diaries. Oops – Miss M forgot she was going to be in Melbourne...so we took a rain check and I thought I’d never end up at Rockpool Bar and Grill (our trip to NYC has been booked and paid for 8 months in advance however so we were DEFINELTY going to meet up there...definitely).
When Miss M raised the idea of one last try for dinner at Rockpool Bar and Grill a few weeks ago I said yes...but as a safeguard I invited Miss Chicken along too. At least that way I guaranteed a dinner date even if Miss M’s diary got the better of her again.
I am pleased to report that both of my dining companions showed up that night and we had a wonderful time at the jaw-dropingly beautiful art deco Rockpool Bar and Grill. Miss M and I arrived a tad before our 6pm booking so we took a seat in the bar and had a drink each and marvelled at the stupendous Ridel glass chandelier that dwarfs the bar below it. The chandelier is made of nearly 3000 wine glasses – which takes 20 staff five hours to disassemble, clean and put back to gather. I wonder how many people call in sick on “cleaning day”?
My jaw drops even further when we make our way into the restaurant proper. Wow – what a stunning room! The restaurant is housed in a cavernous space with a roof that is two stories high and supported by huge marble columns. The whole room feels like it’s out of the set of a Batman movie...or perhaps even something you’d see in Mad Men. STUNNING! Despite the room’s vast interior it still feels warm and cosy with the use of leather seats, warm tones and carpets to buffer the sound of the other diners.
Once again I am on a budget and a night at Rockpool Bar and Grill could quickly get quite expensive if you don’t take note of what you’re eating and drinking. Whilst there are more than a few reasonably priced mains on offer there are also a few dishes that are out of my price range (like the $600 caviar dish for example – a girl can dream, right)?
We each decide to order two entrees and share some side dishes, though Miss M gets sidetracked by a wonderful sounding special so ends up getting an entree and a main. The dinner starts with some lovely bread and creamy-smooth butter.
Of course Rockpool Bar and Grill is another uber-dark restaurant and I continue to struggle on with Mr Nikon (he quite likes the fancy schmancy meals you see). I promise I will NOT whinge at all during this post about my dark, blurry, fuzzy-wuzzy photos (except for the whinge I just had).
Both Miss Chicken and I start off with a hot starter of Charcoal Roast Squid and Pork Belly ($28.00). The serving size is quite large for a starter and much more generous than I had thought it would be in a fancy place like this. The dish has quite a lot of caramelised onion which I love and the addition of some crispy bread makes it a very substantial entree.
I really struggle with what to choose for my second entree as everything on the menu sounds so appealing. As I quite enjoyed my foray into steak tartare at Ms G’s I deice I’ll give it another try and order “My” Steak Tartare with Chips ($25.00). This version of steak tartare is much more creamy looking, less red in colour, and less obviously a plate of raw meat than the version I had at Ms G’s. For the uninitiated, if you didn’t tell them what they were eating they would really have no idea this is a a plate of essentially raw meat. It tastes better than it sounds trust me – super creamy and smooth, and it goes perfectly with the super fat chips that it is served with. The texture is quite similar to a smoked salmon dip.
For sides we order a small serve of “Mac and Cheese” ($9.00) as this dish had been highly recommended to me by a few people. It’s deliciously creamy with a crispy topping and incredibly morish. It’s served in little metal dish, so you don’t get the crunchy bits of the bottom of the dish like you would if you made it at home.
Given my recent discover at Porteno that Brussel Sprouts don’t need to taste like overcooked balls of snot, we agree to order Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Speck and Chestnuts ($12.00). I liked these, but not as much as the deep fried version at Porteno, as they still had the bitter taste I associate with Brussel Sprouts. Deep-frying makes everything better in my opinion, although I would happily order these again.
What a great night I had at Rockpool Bar and Grill. I’m already plotting my return visit ASAP! Maybe The Boy will buy me my $600 caviar dish...or maybe not.
Rockpool Bar and Grill is at 66 Hunter Street, Sydney. Phone them on 8078 1900.