Tag Archives: Rockpool

Food highlights 2014

Well here we are again not far off Christmas.  Turkey and panettone beckon!

Thank you so much to everyone who reads, comments, shares, or who I bump into and tells me they enjoy reading my blog – I do appreciate it!  I hope you all have a lovely festive season and all the best for 2015.

These are some of the dishes that stand out from this year – unique, clever, or just plain delicious. Auguri di buone feste and “see” you next year!

Sugar Snaps and Celtuce with Savoury Lemon Curd at Monopole.  Who would have thought lemon curd could work with vegetables?


Tomato sorbet with a tomato jelly, pistachio and rice crumb, and parmesan custard at Berowra Waters Inn


The Pedro Ximenez Magnum at Nomad….mmmmmm


New England Lobster roll from Supernormal…..super good


Scallop cake with herbs, peanuts and prawn broth at Rockpool.  Neil nails Asian once again.

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Panzerotti at Luini in Milan, my tastiest cheap eat for the year!


Buffalo milk three ways, at Trattoria Nerino Dieci in Milan….a great little trattoria


Three milk cake at Spice Temple (still hoping Neil will share the recipe :) )


Pappardelle with oxtail ragu at Via Alta, fragrant and rich


Udon noodles with pork and chilli at Cho Cho San, but most of the dishes I had here were great


An unexpectedly good dessert called the “pavlova cake” at Gardels Bar


Western Australian scampi scented with Japanese curry, apple, sheep yoghurt, mushroom at three hatted Sepia


What a year. And so many places on the list for 2015! Enjoy

Rockpool on Bridge – $79 lunch special

In an effort to capture more of the lunch trade, many of the fine diners around town offer some fabulous lunch deals.  Often dinners at these toqued establishments are degustation menus in the $150-$200 per person range, and beyond, and if this isn’t in reach, the lunch is a great alternative.  Come noon, Rockpool offers one course for $52, two courses for $69 or three courses for $79.  Similarly places like Aria offer $46 for one course and $74 for two, and Est three courses for $95.

I had been to the original Rockpool on George a few times, but this is my first visit to the new digs on Bridge. We are celebrating the birthday of my friend at A Tea with the Queen. The “new” Rockpool has a different feel to it – darker, more sophisticated, a little bit like it has now grown up and come of age.  I actually met Neil Perry last week, and he talked about his evolution as a chef – from wondering why he was running a restaurant serving French provincial food on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, to his immersion and connection with Asian cuisine. This is a man who is very passionate about what he does.

The staff are polished and on top of their game (except for one waitress who does a runner towards the end of our meal with our not yet empty wine glasses, but this is quickly rectified) and we feel warmly welcomed.  There is plenty to tempt on the menu, and I opt for the Asian influenced dishes, as in my opinion this is where Neil Perry’s cuisine shines.

But first we are bought some bread, with butter and also some ricotta.  The bread itself I don’t find anything special but this is butter like no other.  It has a caramel like consistency and a slight sweetness, I want to smother my bread in it (the only other butter that rivals this is Tetsuya’s truffle butter, which I think I could live on).  Similarly the ricotta is magnificent with a smoky undertone and creamy.

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My first dish is the scallop cake with herbs, peanuts and prawn broth. The seafood is beautifully fresh and I scoop up every drop of that divine broth.   This rivals the crab congee on the dinner menu.

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I then move onto the smoked Burrawong chicken hotpot with braised fungus, chestnuts and dragonwell rice.  The rice is bought out first, dragonwell tea is poured over it and it is left to infuse.  Shortly after the chicken arrives and I know I have ordered very well today….so well that I dig in and forget to take a photo of the actual chicken!

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Most of the table opts for the short rib with creamed spinach, hoisin and black vinegar for their main course.  This is a $10 supplement and no wonder – it is enormous.  Some find it a little salty; I’m kindly offered a little to try and it is meltingly tender with a beautiful smokiness.


None of the desserts tempt me that day (I have a different agenda anyway) but the popular choice at the table is the chocolate gran cru of Valrhona with peanut butter and jelly.


Instead I opt for one of the best deals around town – a petit four of Rockpool’s original 1984 date tart for $3, which Neil developed and Lorraine Godsmark perfected; she sells a full slice at her patisserie for $15.


Fancy a lunch at Rockpool? You won’t be disappointed.

Rockpool on Bridge, 11 Bridge Street, Sydney ph (02) 9252 1888

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Rockpool, Sydney

Rockpool on George was Neil Perry’s first baby from which his empire spawned.  It was one of Sydney’s early fine diners, and has had its ups and downs.  Three hats, lost hat, gained hat, closed and re-opened as a “casual” place, Rockpool Fish café (I went, didn’t like it, neither did everyone else apparently, it closed), back to being fine dinner, back to three hats.

I’m here with a dear friend, my food soul-mate, and neither of us have been here for a good few years.  Like me, she’ll drive across the Sydney metropolitan just to get that one key ingredient needed for a recipe, or go to a restaurant just to try that one special dish.  And I’ll admit I’m here tonight to try a particular dish, the layered pork tart with the chicken liver parfait (Rockpool doesn’t do takeaway, or I would have ordered it to go).

It’s a simple pricing structure at dinner, two courses, $110, three courses $135, four courses $155.  This is seriously expensive three hat dining, if you compare it to Est’s nine course degustation for $175.  Or Claude’s eight course $140 menu. And Momofuku’s 14 courses for $175. Or Marque‘s ten courses for $160. But I digress.

The menu is divided into four sections, but they are totally flexible about how you choose your courses which I really like.  So even though you go the four course option, you can choose one dish from section 1, two dishes from section 2, and one dish from section 4, or whatever other combination you prefer. This worked well because ‘section 2’ had the biggest hit rate of what we wanted to try.  What I also liked was that our charming waiter said he would tell in each section what was the ‘signature’ and what was the ‘most popular’ – interesting the divergence between the two.

So would you walk out of here and say this is a worthy three hatter? I really think it depends on your luck with the ordering. Some of thedishes were just outstanding, some ok, and some had one particular element of the dish (I hate saying ‘element of the dish’, sounds like one of the used-to-death Masterchef phrases but I can’t think of an alternative at the minute, so forgive me – incidentally, what’s with that whole “boys versus girls” Masterchef thing? Really? It appeals to my 8 year olds, but not sure of the demographics beyond this) that was outstanding and the rest so-so.  So if you got pot luck and ended up with all the outstandings, you’d walk out pretty impressed. Overall I think the Asian inspired far outweighed the others so go down that path if you end up there.

I also noticed a little card when they gave us the bill – they have a 3 classics dish Friday lunch for $65 – this is great value if you want to give the place a whirl.

To start we were given a canape of Queensland Spanner Crab, parsley, egg and fennel fondue. A nice little introduction but not particularly memorable. (Please excuse my photos, had my old camera which was on its last legs).


Then onto what we chose:

Blue swimmer crab and corn congee, almond tofu, star anise scented peanuts, fried bread and chilli oil (section 1 signature). Wow. What a start. This definitely fell in to the totally outstanding category. Try this dish.


Goats cheese lasagne, muntries, lavender kipflers, pangrattato and broccoli sauce (section 2 signature).  This was the ‘outstanding elements’ rather than overall fabulous. The actual lasagne itself was a bit of a shoulder shrug. But those potatoes. And that sauce.


Quail with daikon, tong ho, nori and chilli condiment (section 2). Beautiful quail and the chilli underneath – again flavour. Neil knows his Asian flavours. Almost had a Julia-Roberts-slippery-little-sucker-Pretty-Woman moment with the radish though.


Chicken parfait inside a one thousand layer pork tart (section 2). The dish I came for. The pork layer – fabulous.  But something was going on with the parfait.  It was overpowered with something acidic, I couldn’t quite tell what, but I could not taste the parfait just an acidic tang – it was really disappointing. It was also a runny parfait compared to most I’ve eaten, and goodness knows I’ve eaten a few.


Lamb rolled saddle, bo ssam shoulder, celery, wheat infused soy beans, tea smoked mussels (section 3 signature). Bo ssam shoulder, mussels, magnificent. Lamb saddle nice and tender, but soy beans too hard.


Whiting grilled over rushes (Japanese weedy things), squid, iceberg lettuce, pearl balls, onions and red date infusion (section 3). Squid, pearl balls, lettuce yum, beautifully cooked fish, a well put together dish. [Here’s the recipe if you want to have a go at it http://www.foodservicenews.com.au/news/coorong-yellow-eyed-mullet-grilled-over-rushes-squid-iceberg-lettuce-pearl-balls]


Date tart (section 4 signature) – a lovely tart, and apparently its Neil’s 1984 original. My first attempt at making it was ok, with practice it will be stellar.

date tart

Vacherin pandan custard, coconut parfait, jasmine sorbet and lime granita. Wow. I thought it was in a little ceramic dish but it was actually in a edible feather light meringue bowl.  There were flavour explosions going on everywhere here. Loved it.


Petit fours to finish!


Rockpool on George, 107 George St Sydney, ph (02) 9252 1888

Rockpool on George on Urbanspoon

Today’s Cake – Neil Perry’s Date Tart

Following a recent visit to Rockpool on George, I thought I’d give the date tart a go. This recipe is definitely a keeper – though I need another go to perfect it as I got a lot of pastry shrinkage so I didn’t get enough filling in. I also recommend flattening the dates so that they are covered. Note that although this is often referred to “Neil Perry’s date tart”, having been on the menu for some 25 years at Rockpool, it was actually the joint creation of Perry and Lorraine Godsmark, who was the pastry chef at Rockpool at the time. No idea how accurate this recipe is, but it was apparently published in a magazine some 15 years ago.


10 fresh dates, pitted and halved
7 egg yolks
80g caster sugar
700ml fresh cream
½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise

180g cold butter, chopped roughly
25g caster sugar
1 egg
1 tbs milk
250g plain flour, sifted

Making it
1. For pastry combine butter, sugar, egg and milk in a food processor and process until butter is in small lumps. Add flour and process until mixture just comes together in a ball.

2. Gently knead pastry on a lightly floured surface to from a smooth ball. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 2 hours.

3. Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface and line a 25mm deep round 28cm flan tin (with removable base). Cover and refrigerate for ½ hour.

4. Place tart shell on an oven tray, line with baking paper, fill with dried beans or rice and bake at 200C for 10 minutes. Remove paper and beans and bake a further 10 minutes or until golden.

5.  Meanwhile, cream egg yolks and sugar until light and fluffy, then stir in cream and seeds from the vanilla bean.

6. Place dates on pastry in two circles. Pour cream mixture into tart shell, to cover dates, then bake at 180C for about 30 minutes, or until just set. Cool to room temperature before serving.