Sunday, January 16, 2011

Rockpool, The Rocks

It's been very quiet this year on the blog, for many reasons. I've been crazy busy because of the return of family from overseas, the insanity of work deadlines and...a proposal. A very romantic, perfect weekend which involved the re-creation of a first date, before being whisked away to a hotel with a stunning view of the harbour bridge.
And the cherry on top of the weekend; a surprise dinner at Rockpool, a restaurant I have wanted to go to since I was in high school. I kid you not, I remember hearing about the food at Rockpool from my brother and watching Neil Perry talking about food on the Lifestyle channel, and decided back then that I would have to go there whenever I graduated from university. Things didn't quite work out that way and I ended up at Bécasse, and A knows me better than anyone else in the world and knows that I've still always wanted to try Rockpool. And to prove just how well he knows me, he even remembered to bring along my DSLR in case I wanted to take food photos. I think fellow food bloggers will appreciate this part the most :)
Sterling caviar on prawn toast
We start off with something quintessentially decadent; caviar and champagne. I was obviously still in total shock from the entire evening (I had been tricked into thinking I was just having chicken rice at Ginger and Spice with my brother and his wife, and an hour later I was sitting at Rockpool in a fancy dress), so it was only when I was sinking my teeth into the thin layer of crunchy toast covered with silky, salty caviar that I started to really comprehend what was going on and how incredibly lucky I was right in that moment. So much happiness! The toast was served on these adorable measuring spoons which I really wanted for myself. I thought it was rather ironic that Ginger and Spice was where I was told we were going, since they serve traditional prawn toast, and the Rockpool version took it to a whole other level.
Queensland spanner crab with heirloom tomatoes, avocado, celery and lemon verbena
Unfortunately my photographs don't do the food justice at all, but I was too busy enjoying the meal to spend too long getting a good shot of each dish and only took a quick shot of everything. The spanner crab dish was fresh and light, the cool and subtle flavours of the other components of the dish really let the intense flavour of the crab shine through.
Chirashi zushi of kingfish, bonito, prawn and squid
Ugh, I love sashimi so much. Just looking at the dish above had me smiling like a lunatic. There were tiny little cubes of cucumber jelly and a small dollop of kimchi that you can see at the front. You didn't need more than that tiny amount of kimchi because it was packed with spice and flavour. The slivers of fresh seafood were delicate and I wish I could have had more.
Green lip abalone, red braised thirlmere goose, chicken crisp and fine noodles with xo dressing
I totally fell in love with this dish from the first taste. The chicken crisp on top was a perfect, super thin disk on top of everything else, and made a mouth-watering cracking noise as soon as my knife hit it. The noodles were the perfect texture, and the best way to soak up the delicious dressing.
Pan-fried whiting with crisp melanda pork belly, swiss brown and nameko mushrooms, saffron potato fondant
I'm a little devastated that I didn't get a clear shot of this dish, because the consensus on the whole meal from both of us was that this was the highlight. This dish was AMAZING. Every component of the dish was gorgeous on it's own, but they all worked so well together with the perfect contrast of textures and flavours. There were multiple food orgasms. I will never forget how perfectly cooked the whiting was, with a melty piece of pork bellow. Any dish with mushrooms immediately makes it a favourite, and when you cut into the potato fondant the centre was oozing with a creamy saffron sauce. Amazing.
Macleay valley rabbit and sweetbread pie with “laphroaig” whisky sauce
The previous dish was tough act to follow, so I don't think I appreciated this dish as much as I should have. The flavours really packed a punch, though I found the sauce was really rich and quite salty, so I had to get A to help me finish my portion because I could feel myself getting full and I had to make sure I had plenty of room for dessert.
O’Conners angus beef fillet with old skin stir fry, snake beans, soy milk skin and hakka nam yee sauce
The final savoury dish of the night was really interesting. The staff explained that this dish was cooked with old skin (chun pei) which is citrus peel that has been preserved for a really long time. The peel is so strong in flavour that it is sliced super thing and only used sparingly. Trying a bit of the peel on its own was a little too intense, but when you had it with a mouthful of the beef it was great. There was a lovely chunk of angus beef fillet, but I was loving the strips of beef around it that were battered and stir fried until crisp. The nam yee (fermented red bean) sauce was fantastic. I thought this dish was a great marriage between Chinese and Australian cuisine.
Coconut sorbet with coconut jelly and raspberries
Dessert time! I was a little bummed that the famous date tart wasn't on the degustation menu, but I've tried the date tart at Yellow and I could live without it. The first dessert was so pretty, and I could tell straight away I was going to like it. The coconut sorbet was delicate and topped with crystallised kaffir lime (which I LOVED), and the smooth coconut jelly tasted just like young coconut flesh. The raspberries were a great match for all the coconut flavours, giving it a bit of tang. The biscuit crumbs added texture and a lovely toasty flavour.
Baked alaska; pear sorbet and spiced mousse
The final dish, a pear baked alaska, with a layer of spiced mousse and a layer of pear sorbet. There were small chunks of nashi pear and the dish arrived at our table with a small pot of flaming brandy, which the waiter spooned around the rim of our dishes, so the whole thing was surrounded with blue flames for a few seconds. I'm not usually a big fan of baked alaska, since I find the cake on the base is usually way too hard since it has to be frozen. But this one was really enjoyable, the base wasn't too hard and the both the sorbet and spiced mouse were so delicious, we couldn't decide which of the two we preferred. The meal ended with some petit fours and a great cup of coffee as the restaurant emptied out (A got us the latest booking possible for the night). It was the perfect end to a perfect night. The only unpleasant point were the two snooty men who ate next to us for the first half of the meal, who were acting like they were too important to be there and criticising everything. I don't really understand why people go to these amazing restaurants and act like that, because I go there and sit in total awe.

So this was the most expensive meal A and I have ever had together, especially since A got the matching wines. But it was totally worth it, and we were both so satisfied without being ridiculously full (unlike the degustation at Bistro Ortolan where my stomach nearly exploded from the enormous portion sizes). Best weekend ever.

P.S. I will be back with a recipe post in a few days, I PROMISE!

(02) 9252 1888
107 George Street
The Rocks NSW 2000

Dinner Tuesday to Saturday
8 Course Grand Tasting Menu ($195)
Rockpool on Urbanspoon
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  1. Many congrats again Steph and what an awesome way to propose and celebrate. Class act all round. xx

  2. Congratulations once again, and what a wonderful way to receive a proposal!

  3. Congratulations Steph!! Rockpool is a great place to celebrate after a proposal. When is the big day?

  4. oh my god that looks incredibly decadent. and congrats!! that's wonderful. you are very lucky to have someone remember all those things and take you to such a great restuarant. cheers


  5. Congrats again!! So excited for you! What a perfect weekend :) xx

  6. Congratulations again Steph! I think A wins for being most food-blogging-thoughtful fiance ever. lol. I love that he packed your DSLR - did he pack your fancy dress too? A lovely and romantic story for all the grandkids :)

  7. Congrats Steph! Awesome meal in Rockpool.

  8. The food looks incredible, but who cares about that... CONGRATULATIONS to you!!! Very happy for you :)

  9. Congrats, this looks yummylicious!!! Terrific!

  10. Excellent news on the proposal and beautiful photos of the meal. So it's congratulations on both counts!

  11. Congratulations to You and A!!! I can't wait for your big day to come. I always wanted to visit Rockpool too. Their menu looks sensational!

  12. Congratulations to the both of you! What happy news : ) Aren't you the luckiest girl in the world??? Oh ok, A is pretty damn lucky too ; )
    Oh and the! How amazing does that look!

  13. I can imagine you grinning from ear to ear as you're writing this post recalling what looks to be the perfect evening out (minus those two guys)

    Congrats for the both of you :)

  14. Hey steph - what a picture perfect weekend! I'm catching up on all my blog reading so a delayed congratulations goes out to you! Big props to A for paying so much attention to detail! thanks for sharing this wonderful post - I'm such a sucker for romance :)

  15. I'm sure the food was good, but surely your happiness just made everything taste a million times better too! Congratulations!

  16. A truly mouth-watering meal! Love that rabbit pie, so apt for today! LOL

    And congrats!


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