On the 3rd of May, my girlfriend and I were lucky enough to go to Rockpool Bar and Grill for the Gourmet Traveller Masterclass Dinner. This dinner was a four course degustation menu. Neil Perry’s focus on producing tasty food with local produce was especially showed off during this remarkable meal, which also showcased some of Perth’s exceptional wines.
The entrance to The Rockpool is amazing. The heavy, wooden door leads you to the candlelit walkway. It’s over-the-top but so fetching because of its decadence. Once inside, I was mesmerised by the setting. It was beautifully finished in warm, soft colours and the place was set out with different bits of seating, allowing privacy for some, or an observant view of the busy, open kitchen for others. We were seated in the private seating, behind the mesh drapes and off to the side. All of the surroundings looked like extra special care had gone into making them as perfect as possible. From the layout of the table, to the positioning of the wait stations, everything seemed neat and precise. The lighting was dim but the candlelight supplied a warm feel to the restaurant. I fell in love with Rockpool from this very beginning.
Once seated, we had very little time to wait before the bubbles were served. The first wine of the night was a 2006 Houghton ‘Wisdom’ Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir. This was a beautiful white sparkling wine, which went very well with the goat’s cheese tortellini and Wagyu sliders. The little sliders were probably my favourite bit of food that night. They were so tasty and perfect in everyway.
The entrée for the night was king prawn and hummus salad. The hommus on this plate tasted like proper hommus that my Middle Eastern family would serve or you would get in the Middle East. The salad on the plate was especially fresh and the helping of prawns was very generous. The wine that accompanied this salad was a 2010 Moss Wood Semillon from Margaret River.
At this point, I would like to discuss the service provided on the night. The whole night was perfectly presented in every way. From the setting, to the food, to the wait staff who were serving you. Everyone in that restaurant who made eye contact with you would gave you a smile and asked if you required anything. The waitstaff were also patient and you did not feel like anyone was rushing you or that they themselves were not enjoying the evening. I was never waiting for someone to clear the table or annoyed at a waitstaff for clearing it too fast – it was perfectly timed. While studying for university I worked in a few of the “topgrade” restaurants in Perth and undertook silver service. Until this event, I was yet to experience it for myself. It was truly astounding and an invaluable experience.
The main meal was next and this was probably my partner’s favourite bit of the night. The Cape Grim 36 month rib eye was the biggest piece of meat I have ever had in front of me. We had no option of how we would like it cooked but it didn’t matter; it didn’t need our input. The chef managed to cook the meat in a way that made it succulent and perfect. I managed to maybe get through a quarter of the piece, as I was too busy eating the accompanying potato and cabbage gratin. Oh my, it was magnifique! This dish was also served with a Rockpool salad (very French), boiled mixed green vegetables and Rockpool’s modern béarnaise. The food was impeccable and it was a lovely, decadent dinner. The wine served with this main was a 2007 Woodlands ‘Nicholas’ Cabernet Sauvignon. At this point I was slowing on the wine and drinking quite a bit of water as I was beginning to feel light headed from the 3 glasses of wine so far. I also knew that I had to try the desert wine.
After the mains were finished, Neil Perry left the kitchen and came to greet his patrons. I wasn’t expecting this experience and was giddy at the thought of meeting him on behalf of my mother and I (she’s a bit of a fan). He seemed so patient with the prospect of greeting all his guests, which would’ve taken overall an hour and a half. When he came to our table, he asked if we were enjoying our evening. Of course, we said yes and we shook his hands. He seemed very gentle and was an excellent way to end a fabulous meal.
Our last meal was the desert. This was a beautiful passionfruit pavlova, served with a glass of the 2010 Larry Cherubino ‘The Yard’ Botrytis Riesling from Frankland River, WA. The accompanionment of the wine and the desert was beyond good – and if I had been given the desert wine by itself, I would’ve been happy.
This evening was amazing and such an experience. There is nothing like this in Perth and worth the money you pay. It isn’t the sort of place you pay an exurbanent amount of money and receive minimal food on a plate – it is hearty, tasty, fresh food made with local produce. The wine list is spectacular and the knowledge provided by the waitstaff is a lovely addition to the night.
My last comment – make a booking if you haven’t been!
Note: I recently returned to Rockpool for another meal in late December 2011. The post can be found here.