I am a freelance writer from Perth who is passionate about food and loves exploring new and exciting places. My best trait is that I am honest...and my worst trait is that I am honest. I will provide reviews that are well thought out and fair.
I cannot believe how inconsistent the answers have been when I ask the question: 'How did you like Rockpool?' Perth was so excited for Neil Perry to open the award winning franchise at the casino, and Perthonians flocked there to sample the goods and see what all of the fuss is about. What awards you may ask? Head to their website and see for yourself.
All of those people can't be wrong, right? I have heard people say that it is overrated, and that it is expensive. I have heard others say that it is the best food that they have ever eaten, and that it isn't really that expensive if you think about it. I have heard of people going there for a celebration and saying that it wasn't as good as everyone made it out to be and that it was not worth all the hype, and I have heard others say that the food is worth every cent and that it is absolutely Perth's best restaurant.
So how is it possible for us all to be disagreeing about this one place? Obviously the idea of something being 'expensive' is subjective, but whether the food is good or bad is a point that should be easier for us all to agree on.
I am going to tell you about my experience, and I am posing a question to all patrons who have had their own experience with the restaurant; is Rockpool worth the hype (and money)?
Have you ever had trouble deciding on a bottle of wine to go with dinner? Try picking a bottle of wine when there are 1350 wines from Australia and the rest of the world! It took me a good twenty minutes to decide, but I was kept company by the bread and butter, so I was happy. The bread is freshly baked; crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Even the butter tastes better than normal, which leads me to believe that it is made on the premises. The bread is free and I asked for more - three times actually! They generously kept my side plate filled. We selected the only bottle of wine that was from Portugal, and the wait staff kindly decanted it for us. We were in agreeance that it was the best bottle of wine that we had ever had.
I feel confident in assessing the food at Rockpool since I ordered a huge variety of dishes off the menu. I started with the charcoal roast squid with smoky chilli and pork belly ($28). I was not to know this at the time, but it was actually the standout meal of the night. It was divine. It was oily, but deliciously so. The chef was pretty heavy with the olive oil, but I loved the taste of the caramelised onion, tomatoes, squid and tender pork belly drowned in the liquid gold. The crunchy and thinly sliced croutons complemented the dish, and all in all it was delicious.
Next up, the main menu. I ordered the pumpkin and almond tortellis with parmesan and sage sable ($25), which was a small serving, and was tasty for sure (but it was not on the same level as the entrée). I would have loved it if it had perhaps had a splashing of some sort of cream sauce, and perhaps some mushrooms or snowpeas or some sort of vegetable.
My partner had the David Blackmore's Dry Aged Full Blood Wagyu rib-eye 200g steak which was aged 24 days ($119). Now I don't mean to sound crude, but the only way that I can describe it is that my partner experienced some sort of food orgasm right there at the table! He is the kind of guy who normally scoffs his food down, and this was the slowest that I have ever seen him eat. He said that it was: The. Best. Steak. Ever. He did not want it to end, and I swear that he started tearing up as he realised that he was nearing the end of the meal. So, yes it is small, and no it is not a whole meal. The $119 gets you a steak only, and you need to order some sides to go with it. But is it worth it? My boyfriend would tell you that, yes, it is absolutely is.
It was difficult to pick a side dish, so we picked six! They were all good sized portions and I think that they are pretty damn cheap really. We got the Royal Blue potatoes sautéed in duck fat with rosemary and garlic ($10). They were crispy and rich and flavoursome in a meaty kind of way. We got the mac and cheese ($9) which seemed like a weird thing to have on the menu of a flash restaurant, but Rockpool made it their own. It tasted like it had at least three different types of cheese in it, and it had a nice smoky flavour. It was so rich that you could only manage a few bites, but those few bites were wonderful.
We got the cauliflower and cheese gratin ($12) which was not a standout dish but was pretty good as far as cauliflower cheese goes. The baby carrots with bourbon and almonds ($12) were cooked to perfection, and went well with the steak. The charcoal oven roast pumpkin and sweet potato with burnt butter and garlic yoghurt ($12) was great as the vegetables were so soft that they melted on your tongue.
A friend of mine recommended the radicchio, cos and endive salad with palm sugar vinaigrette ($9) to me as she was amazed that a simple salad could taste so good. The dressing was yummy and the salad was the first side dish to be fully eaten.
For dessert we had doughnuts with lemon curd, apple and vanilla ice cream ($23). This dish was as good as it sounds. You can't go wrong with sweet warm balls of dough coated in sugar and spice and all things nice and pumped full of a smooth lemon curd. Wonderful sweet, sweet goodness.
We also ordered some passionfruit marshmallows ($8), which I have to admit were a bit sickening, They are obviously meant for someone with a serious sweet tooth! We also tried a chocolate tart, but alas, it isn't on the menu anymore. Desserts range from $8 to $25 which is pretty reasonable.
A great dining experience comes down to all of the little touches. The last thing that we were treated to were these gorgeous little caramel rice pop things. They came on the side of the coffee that we ordered, and they were fantastic. A perfect way to finish the evening.
In summary, all I know is that if you try to book a table at Rockpool a month in advance, it is unlikely that you will be able to book a 7:00, 7:15 or 7:30 slot for a weekend night. Numbers like that speak volumes. The restaurant is ambient, the music is low, the lights are dim, the seats are comfortable and the décor is modern. The entrance is grand and diners can see some behind the scenes action as they walk through the hallway, which is interesting. The staff are friendly and attentive and I have received five star service every time that I have been.
So I think that Rockpool is totally worth it.
The question is… what do you think?
I have been twice now and enjoyed both visits. One with the girls and one with the fav man. Both diffeent and both with excellent service ( worth the money to start with in OZ) andfood to die for. One of my guests was from Melbourne, and we all know how they think they have the monopoly on good restaurants. along with Nahm Thai , Rockpool and opus have had the Seal of approval as the best food he has ever had...and he travels a lot. I still appreciate service and taste. Portion size if a Pub-grub thing to me, but i havne tleft RP hungry...but thats just me :-)