Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Rockpool Bar & Grill

Sydney-sider here to invade Melbourne? Like AFL muscling in on QLD and NSW, ALDI to Safeway. An age old rivalry, etched into Australian folklore. Itchy and Scratchy, Coke and Pepsi, “The Man” vs the World. Does anyone really know why the intense hatred? I mean, sure Melbourne is more liveable, affordable, a superior bar scene, awesome restaurants, a wider arrange of clubs, the non pretentious night life, the sporting capital… hell even better tasting water. Why would anyone dislike the state that’s south of the border?

So what happens when Sydney’s finest ponytail decides to impose himself on the scene, by being one of the jewels in Crown’s grand vision to become a restaurant mecca? And to rub salt into the proverbial wound, also win restaurant of the year? First reaction is one of scepticism… could it be? The venue is plush, dim and sexy, it has the feel of a place that pompous, old men would frequent with their cigars to relax with a glass of cognac. What’s the hype behind the slated venetians to keep the intimacy in but afford a view of the Southbank promenade? The sinking, dark chocolate leather chairs prepare you for judgment.

Perry does good… very good. The man, famously as fussy as Rain Man with his choice of airline carrier, demands quality produce. And that’s what one receives here at the Rockpool Bar & Grill. It’s a quality steak, rib eye on the bone in fact, a 36 month old grass fed slab of meat that resembles a meat platter, perfectly charred and cooked to order. The fat flavours the cooked cow and provides that glistening feeling in the mouth, simply delicious. The wide range of seafood choices and flesh from other animals such as the crispy skinned pork displays the chef’s mastery. Insure that your hunger is satisfied with sides of Perry’s gourmet take on “Mac and Cheese”, paprika sprinkled with two fine cheeses, tempura battered onion rings, potato gratin and buttered brussel sprouts with bacon and mushroom taking the edge off the bitterness. That sweet tooth needs some attention, give it some loving with old favourites such as a defty sweet passionfruit pavola or a dark chocolate with madera cake slice.

Whilst the ponytail has bought with him many fine qualities a great restaurant should have: atmosphere, exemplary service and food worthy of its place in the Melbourne, there is one thing I wish he left up north. That is the prices. With mains (most without sides) upwards of $39 and though desserts reasonable at $16 a pop… judge for yourself. Rockpool has Anthony Mundine status, definitely not the undisputed champion.

3 / 5 yums!
Where? Crown Complex, Southbank, VIC
What? Main $39+, desserts $16

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