For a truly special evening, we decided to immerse ourselves in the world of exquisite dining at Rockpool Est. 1989. Consistently acclaimed as one of the top restaurants in Australia, we walked up the famous steps feeling a unique combination of sky-high expectations and a tingling sense of excitement for what was to come.
Our menu for dinner was an eight-course degustation, with options being provided for a few of the courses. As an overview – we were thoroughly impressed by what should be described as a culinary experience. We found the majority of the courses incredibly delicious, and even the balance of the courses were simply important stops in our journey across many cuisines and cooking styles. The plating and presentation was masterful across all courses, and our waitress explained the background of each dish as we received it.
Our opening course of kingfish with enriched koshihikari rice immediately set the tone for an incredible night with a resounding, beautiful flavour. Not being a major fan of kingfish, I was pleasantly surprised at the way it interacted with the course as a whole, and especially the sauce it was served with which complemented the flavours perfectly.
Unfortunately, the second stop on our journey, the white spine sea urchin with béarnaise custard did not live up to the same standards. We both felt the flavour was excessively ‘oceanic’ and salty, with the layers of flavour being rather conflicting rather than harmonic. This didn’t suit either of our preferences.
Coming to the rescue however was the prawn mousse ball on squid ink for the third course. Being a rather unique dish, we were thoroughly excited to be adventurous and taste it, and we were not disappointed! The mousse ball had a lovely, thickish consistency to it, and the squid ink sauce was full of flavour. Even once the mousse ball was done, I found myself trying to consume the rest of the sauce by itself – the purest testament to its quality and taste!
For the fourth course, we finally used an option to split the menu; between us, we ordered the Spanish mackerel, as well as the Sterling caviar with soft poached egg, crispy potato and allemande sauce. The caviar, as expected, was strong in its flavour and magical in its effect. When consumed together with the poached egg and the allemande sauce, it challenged the tastebuds in a lovely way and forced you to appreciate the layers of flavour that you were consuming. The Spanish mackerel however tasted rather standard, rather unlike the lofty standards that we were quickly becoming accustomed to.
To break up the meal, and demarcating the boundary between the fish and the rest of the meats, we were served with honey spelt bread, complete with ricotta and kale, as well as licorice and kombu butter. When this arrived, we both promised not to eat too much to save our rapidly filling stomachs for the rest of the meal to come. One portion of the warm, freshly baked break with the ricotta however and we simply could not control ourselves. This was easily one of the best breads either of us have ever tasted!
Almost unexpectedly, we were treated with our fifth course – char siu roasted duck with confit potatoes. Another of the standout courses so far, this duck was a cut above the rest, even though we are both normally big fans of duck. The way the duck was cooked left it with a residual tenderness that we both loved and unfortunately the portion size simply was not enough.
By now however we were beginning to feel the effects of our five courses and were glad that there was only one savoury course remaining before the ‘dessert stomach’ could be activated. Anchoring the courses was the South Australian lamb with buckwheat risotto. From the first bite to the last, the lamb tasted like the epitome of fine, fresh dining. The lamb itself had a rather sweet consistency to it, and when eaten together with the risotto, left a lasting taste on the tongue that just kept you wanting more.
Entering now the world of desserts, for our seventh course, we had a vacherin of pandan custard with coconut parfait, sorbet and lime granita. This was a lovely, refreshing contrast to the meal so far, and definitely helped lighten the palette. This course was also perfectly placed after the lamb as the residual taste was still present, which the sorbet acted on elegantly.
Finally, we reached our final ‘official’ course and were rather sad seeing our food journey nearing an end so quickly. For the final dessert, we were served valhrona chocolate and macadamia with coffee soaked prunes, malt, banana and liquorice ice cream. This dish was rather polarising – I personally felt that the only real highlight was the chocolate, whereas my (perhaps more discerning) partner appreciated the dish in its entirety. This was definitely a heavier dish compared to the previous dessert, and was, to quote my partner, a fitting climax to what has been a lengthy journey.
To round out the meal, petit fours were served for the table, complete with Rockpool’s famous date tart that has been made since 1984. As our final impression, we were slightly disappointed with the tart, especially considering the hype that surrounds it. Given however the incredibly impressive range of courses that preceded it, this did not lower our overall assessment of the food.
The entirety of Rockpool Est. 1989 oozes class and sophistication. Every small detail, ranging from the layout of the table, to the flawless mannerisms of the wait staff was attended to. The lighting overall was very dim, creating a unique and intimate mood, and also explaining why our photos simply do not do the interior justice. The service was impeccable and attuned to our every need.
One doesn’t visit Rockpool Est. 1989 for a quick dinner. One visits for an experience that will be remembered. Every bite of the food, and every glance at the interior, reminded us of that incredible experience that will stay with us for a very long time. Although it is rather pricey, every foodie should make an effort to ensure they dine here at least one – it is truly an experience of a lifetime and one that we are glad to say deserves the awards and praise it has received and will surely continue to receive.