Rockpool Bar & Grill Perth | Burswood
The new Rockpool Bar & Grill Perth in Burswood Entertainment Complex was one of the most exciting events to happen in Perth’s entertainment scene for quite some time. My husband & I were really looking forward to trying it out, as we had enjoyed a wonderful meal at Rockpool Melbourne a few years ago. Joining us for dinner were three other people who had virtually no knowledge of Neil Perry & his culinary reputation, other than seeing him on the Iron Chef Australia television show occasionally.
Well I have mixed opinions on our Rockpool dining experience. The food was exquisitely flavoured, absolutely. But there were several jarring elements to the evening that distracted from the wonderful produce. It was a mid-week dinner booking, the restaurant was probably 75% full & it was three weeks from opening night. There was a seamless process of arriving at the restaurant & being seated with menus. Reading the menu was a challenge in itself. Minimal lighting from a single small hanging pendant in the centre of the table. We literally took turns to push our menu into the lit area to determine what to order. I already felt slightly uncomfortable.
Then, once our orders were taken, some crusty bread with butter & olive oil was delivered to the table. Thank goodness, because it would the only sustenance available for at least 30 minutes until our entrees arrived. (I will only comment on the dishes I personally tasted).
Alaskan King Crab cocktail. Presentation was disappointing. A pile of crab on one third of a circular bowl, a pile of shredded lettuce on another third & a pool of cocktail sauce on the remaining third. Thankfully the freshness of the sweet crab meat was the winner here.
Lobster Omelette with prawn sauce
Charcoal roast squid & pork belly. Unsurprisingly, this is my dish. Whenever pork belly is listed on a restaurant menu, I just can’t resist. A light fresh dish served with roasted tomatoes, an olive oil base & a few slices of crusty toasted bread.
Warm salad of wood fire grilled quail with smoked tomato & black olive
Traditional garlic prawns
There was ample time to take in our surroundings, far too much time really, between the entrée & main course. I gradually realised there seemed to be a problem with the flow of pedestrian traffic. The custom designed waiter stations are beautiful displays of glass, timber, concealed downlights & drawers. However, based on where we were sitting, we could clearly see that the 2 main waiter stations, located on opposite sides of the main circulation path down the length of the restaurant, created frequent traffic jams with guests trying to squeeze past the staff standing at the stations. The open corridor was simply too narrow to accommodate all users & increasingly awkward to watch.
And then our mains finally arrived, after a ridiculous delay of more than 45 minutes. During this time, we chatted of course, ate too much bread, drank too much, & more than once, peered around the mesh curtain to see Neil Perry in the kitchen surrounded by at least two dozen chefs & metres of sparkling stainless steel.
Charcoal oven grill red emperor (with herb salad & aioli)
David Blackmore’s dry aged full blood Wagyu Rib-eye 200g
Rangers Valley dry aged 300 day grain fed fillet 250g
Charcoal oven grill Bar Cod (with herb salad & aioli)
Sides to share:
Charcoal oven roast pumpkin & sweet potato with burnt butter & garlic yoghurt. So satisfying.
Royal Blue potatoes sautéed in Wagyu fat with rosemary & garlic. Heavenly & addictive.
Once again, the food was outstanding. The beef rib-eye & fillet were fine examples of how steak should be cooked (apparently not more than medium rare please). Cooked on a wood fired grill, the resulting smoky slightly charred exterior is a delightful contrast to the almost buttery, fat streaked tender meat inside. For those unfamiliar with Rockpool’s serving style, – when you order a steak, you get a slab of sliced meat on a large white plate, a slice of lemon & nothing else. It’s up to you to order accompanying side dishes from the comprehensive list, such as hand cut fat chips or roasted peppers with onions, capers & fresh herbs. My husband & I knew to order a couple of sides to share to round out the meal, but our dining companions were extremely surprised at their minimalist-style plates.
So, I was the only one at the table not drinking sparkling water. My water glass was not topped up automatically from the jugs kept at the nearby waiter station. I had to ask 4 separate times for more water throughout the evening. Finally, after our mains were eaten & our table seemed to become invisible to any nearby wait staff, I stood up, walked over to one of the 6 staff standing at the water station & asked him for some more water, please. He was rightly embarrassed & I was thoroughly annoyed at this stage by the lack of general staff attention to our table. Our dirty mains plates were also not collected for more than 15 minutes. Unbelievable.
We were apprehensive about ordering dessert, due to the fact it was now quite late in the evening & who knows how long it would take to arrive? But we soldiered on & ordered:
Fresh strawberry tart with balsamic vinegar ice cream. The less successful of the two desserts. The ice cream had a very subtle balsamic vinegar flavour.
Bar & Grill Cheesecake with berry marmalade & sheep milk yoghurt sorbet. This cheesecake was incredibly light & airy, quite unlike any cheesecake I’ve ever eaten. I couldn’t get enough of the crumbly biscuit base as well. At least we ended the evening on a high note! (Notice the lack of photos? My little camera couldn’t handle the shadowy interior, so I recommend that you head over to The Aussie Bite for a comprehensive Rockpool review & photo gallery).
Food There’s no doubt the food is amazing. Disregarding some of the eye-watering prices, there should be something to suit all tastes on the large menu of entrees & mains.
Service Despite the seemingly abundant number of staff on the floor, service was irregular & simply not good enough for this level of dining establishment & price range. Regardless of the fact it had only been open for three weeks.
Design Neutral tones & restrained palette of materials, a mix of fine metal meshes & hanging chains to create separate dining areas, polished glass, leather inlaid tables, timber veneer, strategic lighting pendants, dozens of chunky candles, leather banquettes, solid comfortable upholstered dining armchairs. A beautiful, elegant & ultimately luxurious space.
Highlight David Blackmore’s Rib-eye. Easily the best steak I’ve ever eaten.
Lowlight Definitely the inconsistent service & lengthy food delays.
Rating 2.5 super crispy & fluffy roast potatoes.
Will we be back This wasn’t easy to answer. However my husband was quick to make his decision – no, he would not be back. Whilst the food was ultimately enjoyable, it was too expensive, overrated & a generally disappointing experience. This was surprising as he greatly respects Neil Perry’s ethos & reputation. As for me, yes I would like to dine at Rockpool again, but not for a while.