During 2008 & 2009 I frequently travelled interstate on business and would often eat at Rockpool Bar & Grill when in Melbourne, so like many others I was excited to hear that Perth was getting its very own Rockpool at Burswood Entertainment Complex (Casino). My first visit was a month ago, when I enjoyed the incredible Wagyu Burger (there is no question that this is the best burger in Australia). My second visit was last weekend for lunch.
Entering Rockpool is a somewhat intimidating experience, firstly through two huge wooden doors that open into the Burswood reception area, and then down a dimly lit corridor adorned with candles and creepy glimpses of aging beef (or is it customers who couldn’t pay?) to the side. The restaurant itself is quite bright, particularly compared to its Melbourne counterpart.
The waiter did her best to sell us some champagne, however my wife favours dessert wines so she chose a bottle of 2010 Mount Horrocks ‘Cordon Cut’ Riesling from Clare Valley in South Australia ($70 for 375ml *cough*). For something different I decided to try a bottle of Aspall Draught Cyder from Suffolk in the UK ($19 for 500ml). We were both very happy with our choices, and the extensive wine list runs to over fifty pages so there’s something for everyone (and every budget).
First comes the delicious, warm bread. Even the butter is amazing here.
I had been perusing the menu via the website during the week but still had difficulties making my final choices. My favourite entree in Melbourne was the seared king prawns with goats cheese tortellini, burnt butter, pine nuts and raisins ($35) and this is what my wife chose today. She found the goats cheese a little overpowering and said that she wouldn’t order it again, however this was simply a reflection of her personal taste – the prawns and sauce were delicious.
I was having difficulty choosing between the fried calamari with romesco ($25) or the oxtail ravioli with oxtail jus, radishes, rosemary and almond skordalia ($29), but ultimately I decided to try the sourdough and parmesan crumbed Jarrahdene pork with prosciutto, sage and cauliflower sauce. Check out the menu here to see the vast range of entrees available – if you’re a seafood lover, you’re in for a treat.
Pork is one of my favourite meats but I’m not a fan of cauliflower so I thought I’d see if the great Neil Perry could convert me – unfortunately, it seems that I just don’t like it. Cauliflower aside, I found the pork to be rather dry and could hardly taste the prosciutto or sage.
We both decided to have steak for our main course, although there’s plenty of other dishes on offer if you’re not that way inclined – one of my favourites from Melbourne was the rotisserie chicken with bread salad, and it’s great to see it on the menu here ($39). There’s plenty of seafood and pasta dishes available, as well as meals featuring lamb, veal, tripe (!) etc and a rather intriguing pulled Jarrahdene pork pie with celeriac puree and chipotle sauce ($25).
I had the unique $110 Wagyu sirloin the first time I visited Rockpool in Melbourne, however today I felt like something more traditional and chose a Cape Grim dry aged 36 month old grass fed 350g ribeye on the bone ($60), cooked medium rare. Ribeye on the bone is my favourite cut, although many restaurants have difficulty cooking it properly – this one was perfect.
My wife also chose a a Cape Grim dry aged 36 month old grass fed steak, this time a 250g fillet ($55) and also cooked medium rare. Her steak looked, and tasted, absolutely stunning.
When I ate at The Old Brewery some six months ago I felt that the steaks were on par with Rockpool (Melbourne) however the sides and desserts were not. I always felt that at Rockpool the sides and desserts were just as much the stars of the show as the steak, and it’s good to see that this standard has been maintained in Perth. Unfortunately my two favourite sides were not on the Perth menu (the most amazing organic carrots & creamed corn), and today we chose onion rings ($9), charcoal oven roast pumpkin & sweet potato with burnt butter & garlic yoghurt ($12) and cauliflower & cheese gratin ($12).
Other sides include “mac and cheese” (which I’m told is superb) ($11), mushy peas with slow cooked egg ($12) and the incredibly tempting royal blue potatoes sauteed in wagyu fat with rosemary and garlic ($10). The couple next to us had the roasted parsnips and brussel sprouts with ginger and nutmeg ($12) which I’m sure is nice if you’re one of those strange people who like brussel sprouts. Looking at the menu again, I wish I’d tried the charcoal roasted fennel and red onions with marjoram ($12) and wood fired grilled broccolini ($18).
(side rant: I tried cauliflower in two separate dishes today, so never let be said that I don’t give vegetables a fair go. It amazes me when people talk about cauliflower cheese and imply that yes, cauliflower is disgusting but ooh the cheese sauce is great! It’s not compulsory to have something horrible with cheese sauce – why not just pour it over something nice instead?)
For dessert I chose the chocolate jaffa mousse cake ($25), given that I am incapable of resisting anything orange flavoured. The jaffa mousse was quite solid but still light, covered in chocolate with wafer-thin brandy snap discs on top. This sat on a base of chocolate cake and a crumb of meringue and what appeared to be candied orange. Absolutely delicious. (Rockpool website photo below; my dodgy photo didn’t do it justice).
My wife chose the Black Forest trifle ($25), which I consider to be the second best dessert I’ve ever eaten (the first being a Rockpool Melbourne raspberry mille-feuille). This is, as you might guess, a black forest gateau layered in a trifle format – if I remember correctly, the Melbourne menu commented that this dessert was inspired by The Fat Duck. Unfortunately she was full about halfway through eating her dessert, so I was obliged to taste it and make sure it was up to the Melbourne standard. It was.
Other desserts on offer include hazelnut macaron and banana ice-cream sandwich ($21), butterscotch pecan tart with iced coffee ($16) and passionfruit pavlova ($21) which in Melbourne is simply magnificent.
We ended the meal with coffee (surprisingly drinkable but nothing to get excited about) and complimentary caramel popcorn. I say complimentary, but it is pointed out in the drinks menu that “the only thing on the house is the roof”. If you’ve been keeping notes then you’ll have worked out hat this wasn’t a cheap meal, but this was a special occasion and I wouldn’t call Rockpool overpriced – you can have a burger, side & a drink at the bar for around $40, so you choose how much you want to spend. As you would expect, the service is friendly, attentive and knowledgable without being intrusive.
We should feel privileged that Neil Perry has done us the honour of bringing his high standards to Perth, a city where we can too often be complacent. I can’t recommend Rockpool highly enough, and I certainly can’t wait to go back. If you enjoy a burger but haven’t been there for lunch, you need to do something about that sooner rather than later.
Rockpool Bar & Grill, Perth
Burswood Entertainment Complex
Burswood WA 6100
Phone: (08) 6252 1900
Lunch Sunday to Friday
Dinner seven days