Rockpool on George is the flagship store of Neil Perry and is often confused with its younger sibling, Rockpool Bar and Grill. The two are not really alike apart from their names and location in the city, but that it seems it is enough to confuse.
Rockpool on George is located in the Rocks and it is probably one of the brightest fine-dining restaurants that I have ate at. Not trying to say the lights were blinding, but more so that every other restaurant is ridiculously dim.
The menu is quite extensive for a fine-dining menu and it took us quite a while to decide on how many courses we would each eat and which dish from which course we would like. There is a selection of First Courses, Second Courses, Mains and Desserts. Out of those dishes, you can choose two, three, four or a six course tasting menu. But the liberty is up to you to mix and match.
We started our meal with a canape of Queensland spanner crab, parsley, egg and fennel fondue. The starter was light and the flavours were well balanced with the freshness of the parsley and the saltiness of the spanner crab.
Our next course was a Chirashizushi of kingfish, tuna, bonito, prawn and squid. Chirashizushi is basically an assortment of raw fish scattered over sushi rice. But ours came with kimchi, which I thought was a rather odd and out of place condiment. The seafood was fresh and the rice cooked perfectly.
Next I had the cuttlefish with Gaian poultry duck prosciutto, ink, crispy chicken skin, carrot leather and furikake. Furikake are dried flavourings that you sprinkle onto your rice, they are usually sold in asian supermarkets in small packets. The one at Rockpool was made with grain puffs. The cuttlefish did not taste completely raw, but lightly poached. It was creamy and sweet, matched with the saltiness of the duck prosciutto and the crunchy carrots and radishes, this dish was really nice.
I tried a bit of the lobster congee with almond tofu, star anise scented peanuts, fried bread and chilli oil but I was not the biggest fan of it. The consistency of the congee was really thick and was more similar to risotto.
Before our mains, we had the special of abalone with a sauce on top that tasted of wakame seaweed, lemon and lots of butter. I have never understood the attraction of abalone but this was delicious. The abalone was soft and tender but still had bite. The sauce on top was a good balance of richness from the butter, saltiness from the seaweed and acidity from the lemon.
For my main, I was originally going to try the beef sirloin with celeriac, onions, grated daikon and sauce vierge but when the waiter described the sirloin to be thin like a minute steak, it deterred me and I ended up choosing the pigeon with corn, scallops, eggplant, black mushroom and coriander.
I enjoyed the condiments that came with the pigeon but the pigeon itself not so much. I found it to be flavourful but not as tender and juicy as I would have liked. The eggplant was delicious and I could have had a whole bowl of it over rice.
I had a bit of my brother's beef and it was really tender and juicy. The sirloin was thin and it was grilled only on one side, and then rolled with the grilled part on the outside. We were told that the sirloin was a grade 9 marbled wagyu steak.
Our savoury dishes were great but it was the desserts that won the show.
We had the date tart that has a history of 19 years. The tart had a thin layer of dates, and that was all that was needed as the dates were quite sweet. The custard on top was amazing, it was silky soft and perfectly set. The base was baked to perfection, the perfect crumbliness for eating it with ease.
The tart is elegant in its simplicity but do not let that fool you. A lot of labour went into making that tart; I was told that it takes a good day to make.
We also had the vacherin. A vacherin is a French dessert with a meringue crust filled with cream and fruits. The one at Rockpool's was filled with pandan custard, coconut parfait, jasmine sorbet and lime granita. The flavours and textures in this dessert tops the Snow Egg any day. The cool tangy freshness from the granita, the creaminess of the pandan custard and the crunch from the dried shredded coconuts.
Our waiter offered us petit fours but by the end of the meal we could not fit any thing else into our overly expanded stomaches. He laughed and understood but came back a few minutes later with the petit fours packed and ready for us to take home. The service at Rockpool was spectacular. They were attentive at the right moments and knew when to give us space. Without them the experience would not have been so memorable.
Update: The sauce on top of the abalone also has abalone liver mixed through it. Also, Rockpool is moving to a new location on Bridge St near Cafe Sopra in October.