“We need to get to 66 Hunter Street, please” I said to the cab driver with the confused look on his face.
“Uh, we need to get to Rockpool bar & grill?”
“Ohhhh yeap I know where that is” and off we go. It’s Mr Dough’s birthday weekend and I have made reservations to try Rockpool Bar & Grill.
“It’s to your right” the cabbie said as we pull up at the lights. I looked and all I could see was little door and people standing around with drinks.
“Hmmm this mustn’t be the entrance, surely” I said to Mr Dough and it wasn’t with the sign pointing out the entrance is around the corner.
Rockpool Bar & Grill is located in the heritage listed City Mutual Life Assurance building which was the headquarters of the insurance company in 1893. We walked through the lobby, through the large double glass doors with brass handles and into the restaurant. The restaurant itself is impressive. 2 storey high ceilings with ceiling to floor marble pillars located through the middle of the restaurant, wine glasses stacked on racks provide a freestanding work of art and the open kitchen with over 10 chefs working busily to fed the hungry customers. Directly behind the reception desk, there is a mezzanine level filled with diners perched up high looking down on fellow diners below.
There was a real buzz in the restaurant with echos of diner’s conversation bouncing off the marble walls, waiters in a flurry, turning tables around for the next service. Our table was being set and I was happy standing there, taking in the atmosphere and watching the chefs work.
We were seated against the wall looking at kitchen, menus were presented on a large A3 paper and the wine list whose thickness was comparable to yellow pages. Even though I had viewed the menu online and had decided on what to eat in the afternoon (what? don’t judge, I’m sure you do the same), it flew out the window and I had to decide again.
Entrees arrive quickly and I was surprised at how big the portions were. There were generous chunks of blue fin tuna, neatly sandwiched between wafer thin cheese crisps, topped with frisée. The pepperiness of the frisée complemented the freshness of the tuna.
Mr Dough was half way through his entrée before he would share. I’ve had scampi sashimi before and always enjoyed the crunchy, chewy texture and I felt eating it ceviche lost a bit of that for me. Nevertheless the freshness of the yellow and red capsicum provided little bursts of sweetness as you are munching through the dish. Once again, there was generous pieces of scampi and snapper (I counted 3 in the few bites Mr Dough shared with me)
Because I wanted to eat dessert tonight, I opted for another entrée dish. I was expecting the steak tartare to be presented neatly with accompaniments and a raw egg on top and shoe string fries. But of course this is Neil’s version of steak tartare and I enjoyed the thick cut fries as I was able to eat it like filled potato skins, lathered with steak tartare on top. I also used the radicchio it was served on as lettuce cups and the bitterness of it complemented the tartness of the cornichons and capers.
“Just to let you know this will take 50 minutes” the waiter explained when we ordered. I nodded and thought we’ll ask for more bread if we had to. I wondered how Mr Dough would have been able to finish a whole chicken. I don’t know why but I just assumed for 50 minutes cooking time it would be a whole chicken. The chicken was cooked on the wood fired rotisserie and boy was it cooked to perfection. The chicken throughout was tender and juicy, I would have liked the skin to be a little more crisper but you can’t win them all!
I thought I was being a bit greedy when I ordered 2 sides but I thought I did well considering I wanted to order another 2 others!!! The mac and cheese on the dry side for me, I could have done with more creaminess, the shaved cheese on top provided a crunchy texture which was pleasing.
I got carried away with onion rings in my mouth before I realised I hadn’t taken a picture of it. The onion rings had a light, crisp batter which remained crunchy until the end of the meal. I wanted to eat more of the onion rings but sadly my eyes were bigger than my stomach (once again).
I desperately wanted to eat dessert as there were many I wanted to try. Sadly all I could fit in were petit fours. The passionfruit marshmallows were really soft and were like little citrus pillows in my mouth. We could only fit in 3 out of 8 and took away the rest.
I had mentioned it was a birthday dinner when I first made the reservation and we were surprised with a cupcake for Mr Dough’s birthday celebration (compliments of Rockpool Bar & Grill).
We were one of the last tables to finish up their meal at midnight and all in all, I am determined to come back again, next time armed with more people so we can order more food! Or I could come by myself and try their infamous Wagyu Burger from their bar food menu (I heard it’s that good you wouldn’t want to share)
Happy Birthday Mr Dough and wishing you many more foodie ones to come!!
Rockpool Bar & Grill
Monday – Friday 12pm – 3pm (Lunch)
Monday – Saturday 6pm – 11pm
Closed on Saturday for lunch service
PS In case you were wondering why the alias of Mr Dough, I have attached a picture. Can you see the canny resemblance?