Rockpool Bar and Grill

Crown Casino, 8 Whiteman St, Southbank VIC 3006
Date visited: 29th September 2013


Another venture from Neil Perry, inspired by North American steakhouses.  Rockpool is not just any restaurant, it has become one of Melbourne's institutions, best known for the beef sourced from Australia's top producers.  Not to mention, the David Blackmore full blood Wagyu burger, and the "mac and cheese."  

MerlinFan, Mum and I decided to turn up for lunch this Sunday without a booking - we had planned to hopefully nab a seat at the bar section, try one of them famous Wagyu burgers.

We pushed through a pair of glass double doors, down a darkened wood corridor to the reception desk.  To your left is a departmental store-like glass window with various meats dangling on display.  We didn't have a booking, yet surprisingly, we were able to get a table in the main dining section.  So out the window went the Wagyu burger plan, we were on to the main menu.

The interior was elegant with wooden finishings and plush, square leather chairs.  The sunlight streamed in through windows along one wall overlooking the busy Yarra Promenade.  The setup was luxurious yet relaxed, not overly formal which I liked.

In the centre of the room was the kitchen and heart of Rockpool, where the chefs were hard at work.

 Our butter and bread were brought out not long after we made our orders.

I loved the airy salted butter, slathered on top of a slice of sourdough that was slightly warm, springy with a crisp crust.  The bread and butter were promptly replaced as soon as we had finished.  As tempting as it was, I resisted finishing my second piece to save room for my main (and dessert).

MerlinFan had the Wagyu Osso Bucco with Gnocchi Alla Romana.

Wagyu Osso Bucco with Gnocchi Alla Romana $45
The mound of flavourful osso bucco was surrounded by a moat of rich gravy.  The meat was rendered down to pull-apart, melt-in-your-mouth tenderness.  Paired with olives and creamy, cheesy gnocchi, it was a hearty dish that MerlinFan enjoyed, despite saying it got quite salty toward the end.

Mum and I both love our beef, and we were pondering which cuts to try.  Our knowledgeable waiter informed us that we could share steaks for our main course.  This was a great option, as it gave us an opportunity to sample different beef types and cuts.  Now, I know many a man out there would happily fork over a small fortune for a premium slice of meat, but $115 for a cut of Rib-Eye (even if it was David Blackmore) was pushing it for me.  Before today, steak was just steak, and let's just say I kept thinking of what else I could buy or do with the money.  

We decided to share the Cape Grim Dry Aged 36 Month Old Grass Fed Rib-Eye on the Bone 350g and the Rangers Valley Dry Aged 300 Day Grain Fed Fillet 250g.

Rangers Valley Dry Aged 300 Day Grain Fed Fillet 250g $69,
Cape Grim Dry Aged 36 month old Grass Fed Rib-eye on the Bone 350g $60 
Bernaise, Horseradish cream

We had our steaks done medium rare.  They were done to perfection, succulently pink in the centre and oozing with delicious juices as we sliced into them.  

These steaks at Rockpool have really set a new standard for me.  I don't think I can have another steak elsewhere without ever comparing it to these.  The Cape Grim Dry Aged 36 Month Old Grass Fed Rib-Eye had an intense, robust beefy flavour.  I was devouring it very slowly, savouring each bite with much relish.  Because the steak was already sliced, that meant it got cold quite quickly which was a bit of a shame, although it didn't detract from the deliciousness of the actual meat.

In comparison, the Rangers Valley Dry Aged 300 Day Grain Fed Fillet seemed much more subtle and delicate in terms of flavour.  However, the beautiful chariness from the wood fire grill seemed to permeate through the edges of the meat, complementing the sweetness of the meat harmoniously.  The meat itself was succulent and tender.

We had Bearnaise sauce and Horseradish cream brought to the table.  There was also condiment service with housemade Barbeque sauce, Harissa and three different types of mustards.  I just tasted the sauces and left them behind.  To be honest, they were superfluous - the meat didn't need them.  Topped off with a squeeze of lime and a sprinkle of salt, it was all it needed, really. 

We also had the Roasted Pumpkin and Sweet Potato with Garlic Yoghurt and Burnt Butter.

Roasted Pumpkin and Sweet Potato with Garlic Yoghurt and Burnt Butter $12
The pumpkin was soft and beautifully sweet, topped off with tangy yoghurt and sweet sticky butter.

We had good room for dessert and coffee after.  The dessert menu were like mini versions of the main menu, with a picture overleaf of a contented cow overlooking green pastures and a sky illuminated by what appears almost like divine light.

I had the Gachami, which was a coffee described to be bright and sweet with rhubarb, cherry and candied orange.  It was rich and fruity, nice without sugar to cut through the sweetness of our desserts.

Gachami $7.50
 Mum had the Vittoria Cinque Stelle Latte which was smooth, rich and almost chocolatey.

Vittoria Cinque Stelle Latte $4.50
We opted for the Blood Orange Sorbet with Campari and Hazelnuts.  The little blood orange jellies melted in your mouth like little pellets of bitterness.  We loved the sorbet.  It was sweet, tangy and refreshing, complemented by the paper thin hazelnut tuile.

Blood Orange Sorbet with Campari and Hazelnuts $17

The Passionfruit Pavlova was generous - the portion could easily have fed two.  The airy, marshmallow-like centre had a crisp outer shell and we loved the heavy, rich quenelles of cream and passionfruit sauce drizzled over.

Catherine's Passionfruit Pavlova $21
 To top it all off, we also had a cup of complimentary caramel popcorn.  YUM.

Caramel popcorn
With its top notch produce, relaxed atmosphere and impeccable service, Rockpool definitely exceeded my expectations today.  Our meal for three totalled $239 which is undoubtedly pricey, however I eat my words - every penny paid for the $70 steak was worth it.  I would return for the steaks, not to mention we didn't get a chance to try the Wagyu burger.  Highly recommended to all cow-lovers out there.

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