Southbank, VIC 3006
“Would you like some bread for the table?” Of course we do. Of course I do. And thus began the slightly belated dinner at Rockpool Bar and Grill, part of the present I gave him for his Birthday. We very much enjoyed the steaks we had here on our last visit, but as I wanted to try a burger, whereas Chris wanted another steak, we ended up sitting in the no-bookings wine bar section, where we could order both.
So, about that bread. Excellent warm sourdough with a crackling crust – as it should be.
|Plate of Olives ($6)|
I never knew excellent bread and butter could be improved upon but they were by a simple Plate of Olives ($6). They were marinated in warm olive oil, augmented by the flavoursome additions of thyme and orange peel. There was a highly enjoyable distinction between the large and fruity green olives, and the oilier black ones.
|Wagyu Skirt ($42, 240 grams, aged 20 days)|
We wasted no time in getting to the delicious, delicious bovine. Our Wagyu Skirt ($42, 240 grams, aged 20 days) was a working cut, explained the waiter, and that meant that it would have a lot of chew, but also a lot of flavour. It was indeed quite a sinuous cut of meat that required a lot of jaw work, but the flavours were unbeatably beefy, made better by the generous amount of wood-fire grilling. It’s a great cut for all you people out there who love masticating.
|David Blackmore's Full Blood Wagyu Hamburger ($24)|
I was more interested by the famous David Blackmore’s Full Blood Wagyu Hamburger ($24), which consistently receives fabulous reviews by the blokes at The Burger Adventure. My personal opinions however were fairly mixed. It’s a great patty they have between the sugary brioche buns – juicy and perfectly medium rare – but I just can’t help feel that the burger is missing something. Maybe it’s cheese that melts into the crevices of the beef, maybe it’s the fatty, smoky drippings from the patty, or maybe it’s just plain soul. Either way, the burger was a bit too prim and proper for my liking, as great as the ingredients were.
It was at this point that we really noticed the difference between the wine bar and restaurant. Whereas they would time everything perfectly in the restaurant so you would get your courses in succession, sitting in the wine bar meant that our food came in a flurry, leaving us struggling to find space on the overcrowded table. I had to give up my half-eaten bread, and that was not a pretty sight.
|Onion Rings ($9)|
We got some of the fabulous looking Onion Rings ($9), and it proved to be an excellent decision. The usage of red onion meant that these deep fried delights were a lot more delicate, and the lightly salted batter stayed tempura-crisp even after it became cold.
|Green Beans with Creamy Anchovy, Chilli and Lemon Dressing, Toasted Almonds ($9)|
Our other side was the lighter dish of Green Beans with Creamy Anchovy, Chilli and Lemon Dressing, Toasted Almonds ($9). This was a light and cool counterpoint to the heaviness of the meal so far. The green beans were garden-fresh with an audible snap to it, and were drizzled with a light yet creamy dressing that held a faint but distinctive fishiness. Topped off with toasted almonds, this is something I would love to be able to make, if I knew how they did the dressing.
|Passionfruit Marshmallows ($8 for 10)/Domaine Huet Clos du Bourg Chenin Blanc 2009 ($14/glass)|
We were bursting at the seams by this point, having eaten almost twice as much as our neighbours. However the voucher I bought must be used in one meal, and I’ll be damned if I let any of it go to waste! So instead we ordered a light dessert – Passionfruit Marshmallows ($8 for 10) for Chris and a glass of Domaine Huet Clos du Bourg Chenin Blanc 2009 ($14/glass) for myself. Most of what the sommelier said went over my head but she was right in saying that this was lovely, light drop that had lots of white peach and floral notes. As for the marshmallows, they were like perfumed clouds that dissolved on the tongue. Chris, who had never had ‘real’ marshmallows before, couldn’t stop marvelling at the texture.
The feeling I’ve gotten from Rockpool after my two visits is that, whilst the produce and execution of the food is impeccable, it has a mass-produced quality to it, and it lacks to TLC that makes a good dish remarkable. Once again, Rockpool didn’t manage to impress me, but it did manage to make me feel pampered, and made for an excellent night out.
Rating: 14/20 – i got soul but im not a soldier.