Thursday, January 17, 2008

Rockpool Bar & Grill, Crown Complex, Melbourne

Rockpool Bar & Grill, Crown Complex, Melbourne
Thursday 17 January, 2008
What a surprise tonight was! We hardly expected to enjoy it as much as we did. I had heard mixed reviews about the exorbitant cost, overrated food etc but we thoroughly enjoyed it.
We arrived in the Crown Complex and were directed past the water fountains to the luxurious shopping and restaurant precinct. Located next door to Nobu, Rockpool opened in October 2006 and commands a fantastic corner location and is enormous.
Opening the huge front door you are greeted with the image above. This is the Rockpool Bar & Grill logo and it is printed on everything from their menus, business cards and website. You walk down a long wooden corridor and behind glass windows on the left witness the oyster shucking station and air drying room for the meat. You can't help but stop and have a good look at what is going on.
We were greeted at the front desk and directed to a table near the window. The first thing you notice is the smoke from the grills that wafts throughout the huge 160 seater dining space. The open kitchen has large TV monitors so you can view the preparation. There is a philosophy behind Rockpool that Neil Perry has been consistent with after 17 years at Rockpool Sydney,
We have chosen only the finest cattle that have been grass fed and only finished on grain if drought conditions make it necessary. Grass fed beef differs from lot fed beef in that it has a more natural beef flavour and has a much better Omega 3 to Omega 6 ratio. This makes it better for you, and the cow enjoys a much healthier life. The beef then goes through a dry ageing process on the bone for between 28 and 40 days. This method allows the enzymes in the meat to do their handy work.
The beef hangs in a special cool room at close to 0 degrees with very low humidity.
In this state, the beef ages perfectly and becomes incredibly tender and much more flavoursome. It is, in reality, the only way to age beef to improve the flavour and it gives an incredibly juicy result. This was once the time honoured way to look after meat.
The quick fixes of today, wet ageing in cryovac, have all but seen this superior but more expensive method disappear. In reality wet ageing is about giving the beef more shelf life, not about improving the flavour or texture of the meat. The great steak houses of North America are among those still dry ageing traditionally.
We will also offer the best full breed Wagyu available in the country, from Blackmore Wagyu. We will seek out marble score 9+, the highest grade in Australia. This beef is incredibly tender, is cooked quickly, and served quite rare. The melting point of the marbling starts at a very low temperature and recent studies in the US suggest that this beef is very good for you as it is full of mono unsaturated fats or “good cholesterol”. I personally feel that it is appropriate to offer both kinds of beef, as they are in taste and texture both very different, but are the best of their kind in Australia. This beef will also be dry aged, a first for Blackmore Wagyu.
As with Rockpool Sydney, Rockpool Bar and Grill Melbourne puts together a comprehensive “ocean to plate” seafood program that enables us to deliver the best quality fish in the world.
We source from wild sustainable fisheries or environmentally sound aquaculture.Our fishermen, providing for the Japanese export market, adhere to a “stress minimising catch methodology,” practiced by Japanese fishermen for hundreds of years.
The fish are line caught in the main, immediately brain-spiked (ikijimi killed) and ice slurried. This serves to bring the body temperature down more rapidly and induces rigor mortis. As a result, the fish are less damaged by stress, preserving the best flavour and texture.
All our fish are delivered whole under ice and are dry filleted each day, water never touching the fish flesh. This is a more time consuming method, but we must look after every step of the process. The common practice of filleting fish with running water leaches flavour and damages their texture and thus we avoid it at all costs.
The fillets are then kept in a static fish fridge until needed for service.This process allows us to maintain complete control of the cold chain management. To maintain the purity of our shellfish, we must keep them alive until ordered.To reduce the stress on species that are not compatible, we maintain our shellfish in four separate tanks, which have individual filtration systems.In this way, we can ensure that each species is kept at its optimal temperature, as well as avoid predation and overcrowding. All our suppliers go to similar lengths. Most of our produce is organic, or at the very least farmed in a clean and green way.
After reading the huge menu that is prepared daily we decided to share a plate of San Daniele Prosciutto with Fresh Figs and 25yr old Balsamic Vinegar for entree. This was outstanding and the staff bought us fresh bread and French butter as a side.The sweetness of the figs and the aged balsamic complimented the ham perfectly. Although we shared the plate and could have easily eaten a whole plate to ourselves it was the prefect starter for the main we ordered.
We decided to go with the Rib-Eye on the Bone 750g 41 days that was listed as suitable for two. This was an understatement as it could have easily fed three adults. This was presented on a large wooden block with individual steak knives that sliced through the meat like it was jelly. Also presented were a selection of sauces to share - Horseradish Cream and Béarnaise and our sides - Sauteed Zucchini with Garlic and Mint and the Potato and Cabbage Gratin. The meat was spectacular and wonderfully smokey from the char grill.
We were stunned by the food and asked for a break before we reviewed the dessert menu. The restaurant was completely full and we watched several tables turn over twice during our meal. We decided to order a selection of three cheeses for dessert and a glass of the Pedro Ximenez sherry. Everything was perfect.
Rockpool Bar & Grill is a great restaurant serving fresh produce and offering slick, professional service. Whilst the cost is higher than your average, local restaurant you will have an experience to be remembered. If you dine out alot and have been to some notable places you will be surprised at how reasonable it is.
Rockpool Bar & Grill, Crown Complex, Melbourne


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