Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Rockpool at The Rocks - last night

To celebrate selling and finally packing up the family home of 20 years and the office of 12 years and moving to a new apartment in The Rocks, we decided to reward ourselves with a lovely meal and of course, a very Dirty Martini.  So we walked to the ShangriLa Hotel (literally 200 yards), headed for the 32nd Floor, sat right at the window's edge and sipped an excellent Belvedere Vodka Dirty Martini.    The view from there is amazing, and of course we could see our apartment right beside the bridge.  It's the 'V' shaped building, and our apartment is the top floor one on the far right with the huge round balcony. If you look carefully you can even see our outdoor furniture and the blue glass table top!
We then walked to Rockpool.  And what a fascinating walk through little laneways and shortcuts. Loving The Rocks.
Arrived at the restaurant with no booking at 6.30 pm on a Wednesday, then escorted to a lovely table with the proviso that we leave by 8.30 pm.  No problem.  This restaurant just celebrated 23 years - pretty amazing.  And amazing that we have been coming here since it opened!  Owned by Neil Perry, the Head Chef is Phil Wood, and he is doing a great job with his Chinese influenced menu.  The food has been likened to 'Chinese Fine Dining'.  I'm not a great fan of fine dining, but this is not as annoyingly 'up itself' as others.
We were immediately offered water, then our wine order taken (Reschke Bos 2004), then a superb loaf of home made Spelt and Honey Bread with home made Butter, conveniently cut into quarters and served warm.  Too tempting.
There was a choice of a First Course, Second Course, Main Course, Dessert  ($100 pp for two, $135 pp for three, $155 pp for four), so having been advised that the serves were not too big, decided on the first, second and main.

We were then given the complimentary Canape - Queensland Spanner Crab, Toast, Tabasco Mayonnaise, Peach Leaf Jelly.  Served in a shot glass, it was amazing.  The Toast was a crisp wafer half way through.  Bit too much of the creamy Tabasco Mayonnaise at the bottom though.

For my first course I chose the Chirashi Zushi of Tuna, Kingfish, Bonito, Prawn and Squid.  Very different, but fresh and light.
After much thought, Hal ordered the Blue Swimmer Crab and Corn Congee, Almond Tofu, Star Anise Scented Peanuts, Fried Bread and Chilli Oil.  The Congee part worried him and nearly stopped him from ordering the dish, but it was a really lovely surprise and the stand out dish of the night for him.
We had a lovely waiter with a small speech impediment, so I somehow ended up with two Main course dishes.  I guess it was because we were finding it difficult to make a decision.   Fine with me.  And also a nice surprise.  I ended up with the Quail filled with Eight Treasures, Risotto, Quail Tea Egg and Daikon Remoulade.  The risotto was rich, the Quail amazing, the remoulade lovely.
Hal ordered the Tiger Prawn on Toast, Pickled Carrots, Bok Choy and Tomato Bread Sauce.  He loved it.
I then had the Chinese Roast Pigeon, Smoked Eggplant, Black Mushroom and Cucumber Pickle,  Black Bean Sauce.  The Pigeon was almost lost on the black plate, but it was crisp and tasty  and the Eggplant really smokey.
Hal ordered the Whiting Grilled over Rushes, Squid, Iceberg Lettuce, Pearl Balls and Red Date Infusion.  It looked amazing, and tasted amazing too.  We couldn't figure out what the slices of 'black' were - they were Korean Black Garlic slow cooked for hours.
The mains came with a small complimentary salad, with the best dressing ever.
 This food is why you come to a restaurant.  You just wouldn't cook like this at home!

We, well Hal, had to have the Date Tart - which is the original since 1984.  And I believe we had it in 1984.  It was to die for.  The dates were so fresh, and the texture of the tart just unbelievable.  Just forgot to take a photo of the finished dish, but found this photo of it being prepared on the web!
 We both ended up having a sticky wine - me a Hunter Valley Botrytis and Hal a more fortified one.  They gave me a choice of two and insisted Hal have a small glass of the one I rejected!  As we didn't want coffee, our waiter presented us with a box of Petit Fours to take home.  Very sweet.  He also cheekily suggested we should take his photo.
Lovely meal.  Not cheap, so not somewhere you would come to terribly often. But the food was amazing, the service excellent and the fine dining not stuck up at all.


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