Last Sunday, to celebrate my sister TFP’s birthday, we went to Rockpool Bar and Grill – Neil Perry’s latest venture in Burswood (home of Perth’s casino, and a favourite of senior citizens every where).
Having read Neil Perry’s books, watched him on TV and enjoyed his fresh aioli (from Woolworths) for years – it was definitely time to visit.
We were immediately impressed by the plush surrounds – the place is decked out with lots of soft colours, dark wood with extra attention paid to the little details – silverware, menus, furnishing, all of which make for a special experience.
Real Lemon Iced Tea $9 | Corpse Reviver No. 4 $16
We began with some drinks while we contemplated the menu – I started with a lemon iced tea, which though simple, was an example of the way iced tea should be. The tea hadn’t been steeped for too long (not a hint of bitterness), with the fresh flavour of lemon. Bliss! J’s Corpse Reviver was ‘a duo of fresh fennel and lemon, Plymouth gin, Cointreau and Lillet Blanc’. As a diehard gin fan, J was very very pleased with his choice. TFP and Jac also enjoyed a lemon lime and bitters and a virgin mary.
Complimentary bread and butter
Moving on toward the main event … while we waited for our orders we were given some bread and butter to enjoy. The bread is supplied by Jean Pierre Sancho – who became the supplier to this location after Neil’s daughter sampled some of their amazingly chewy, rustic bread while visiting Perth.
I started with the fried calamari with romesco – I’m so glad I chose this! The squid was amazingly fresh, and cooked to tender perfection. Paired with the sweetly roasted romesco sauce, it was perfection. But my favourite component of this dish was the amazing (and surprising) red cabbage which was nestled under the squid. I think it had been lightly wilted with chili, olive oil and garlic – the punch from the chili was impressive, and it really added something special to the dish.
I seem to recall very little about this dish – that’s because J loved it so much there was very little talking, and definitely nothing left on his plate
This very pretty plate included salmon, scallops and tuna (and possibly kingfish, though I can’t confirm this) – served in four different ways, which included a spicy harissa on the salmon, and a fresh capsicum salsa over the scallops.
Charcoal roast prawns, split and marinated | $30
TFP enjoyed the charcoal roasted prawns, which had been generously marinated with fresh herbs, olive oil, salt, pepper and chili. Simplicity at its best. I managed to snag a prawn, and it was as good as I thought it would be. Side note: those of you who enjoy prawn heads will love this one. The split prawn means that all the delicious prawny stuff is easily accessible.
I thought the crudo Jac selected was really beautifully plated – just look at the photo above! The lime flavoured extra virgin olive oil drizzled over this was a great way to add the fresh zing of citrus with the smooth, richness of olive oil. I’m not a fan of coriander (fact: I hate it), but I thought the greenery added good flavour to this dish.
Speaking of little details earlier, check out this steak knife. This is an impressive looking piece of steel.
And also, serves as the perfect segue into the next courses …
For me, eating steak was a snap decision. I ummed and ahhed over the menu – unable to decide between steak, seafood or pasta. Eventually, I chose the Cape Grim dry aged 36-month old grass fed fillet steak (250g, $55). Jac joined me in choosing steak – she went with the Rangers Valley grain fed 300 day dry aged fillet (250g, $69), pictured below….
To go with the steak, I chose Bearnaise sauce, though I could have enjoyed a number of different options, as Jac did. The condiment service tray included – barbecue sauce, mustards, horseradish cream and harissa…
The condiment service
TFP decided to go for an all seafood meal – and chose the Bald Chin Groper for her main, which came with herb salad and fresh aioli. It looked magnificent, and I’m sure tasted just as amazing. I loved how simply it was served – when the fish is that fresh, and that good – it really doesn’t need much more.
We all agreed that J’s short ribs were amazing (in the interest of a complete review, I tried them, so you can believe me :)) – they were butter-soft, and full of the kind of flavour you only get from real fat. The best kind of fat – the marbling through the meat made for truly outstanding beef. Full of rich flavour, juicy and amazingly tender. I would love to have this myself the next time we visit!
We also shared a range of side dishes, including hand cut fat chips ($12), mac and cheese ($11, large size), creamed corn ($10) and house chopped salad (dressed table side, $24).
I thought that the sides were excellent additions to the meal – and really enjoyed the fact that they were a major component of the menu. All too often sides are overlooked, either as sad additions to the plates on which the mains are served, or they’re the standard salad or steamed greens which are overlooked and don’t see the same love as the rest of the menu options. At Rockpool, they’re delicious extras – things you can actually look forward to.
However, we thought the mac and cheese wasn’t quite right. A lifelong mac and cheese fan (and I’m not talking the kind made by Kraft), I consider myself a bit of a connoisseur. We noticed the dish of mac and cheese we were served had been kept in the oven a touch too long – the cheese solids had separated, leaving a grainy and oily finish to the sauce.
After a brief rest, with our drinks refreshed and plates cleared – we moved on to dessert.
Though I felt like I had just eaten half a cow, it wasn’t possible to avoid dessert – the options were just too appealing! TFP enjoyed the hazelnut macaron banana ice cream sandwich – the mouthful I tried was great – surprisingly not too sweet, and the flavour of banana was deliciously intense. Banana ice cream is one of my all time favourites. Jac loved the way her creme caramel had the perfect, rich caramel flavour – it really benefited from the deeply caramelised caramel – which was taken to the point where it was almost burnt (but not, so minus any awful bitterness). J and I shared the black forest trifle, which was studded generously with sour cherries, and had a rich chocolate mousse beneath the sweet cream layer. So good!
English breakfast tea, with complimentary caramel popcorn
To end our long luncheon, we enjoyed some freshly brewed tea, coffee (for J) and munched on highly addictive and delicious caramel popcorn.
By this point I was flirting with the effects of a major food coma. As much as I would have liked to – there was no way I could fit in another bite.
It was a beautiful meal – well executed and featuring some top notch Australian produce. We all really enjoyed our experience, and left feeling extremely satisfied, happy and very full (or at least I did).
See you again soon Rockpool! (I hope)