Sunday, 2 November 2014


Cassie Cakes Rockpool Sydney Review
Look at that subtle off-white (black) colouring. The tasteful thickness of it. Oh my God; It even has a watermark.
Much like the wise Tom and Donna, I like to take some time out to Treat Yo'self! I mean, myself. But the words ring true, we all need to treat ourselves from time to time. And what better way to treat oneself than to visit one of Australia's most rewarded restaurants - Neil Perry's Rockpool. Yeah, girl! My sister, her husband and I booked in on a Thursday night and I couldn't have been looking forward to it more.

Cassie Cakes Rockpool Sydney Review Historic Smoke
The steps with a ghost to the right. Not really. That's not a ghost, its a light. But I made you think for a second, didn't I? No?
The flagship of the Rockpool Group, the Sydney restaurant has been open for 25 years which is something to be admired in the constantly revolving door of restaurants opening and closing. With much anticipation, we climbed the impressive heritage stairs of the Burns Philp building and entered the dark and moody dining room, complete with a huge canvas of enigmatic smoke.

Cassie Cakes Rockpool Sydney Review Enigmatic Smoke
I'm anthropomorphising smoke by calling it 'enigmatic'. That's the quality of writing you get at Cassie Cakes.
 We were shown to a intimate table on the mezzanine with a view of the entire restaurant. All the tables are intimate, really, with spotlight-like lighting illuminating each table making it feel like your own private space within the glow. I doubt there's a bad seat in the restaurant. The music is atmospheric jazz, the walls black and tablecloths white. It manages to be classic and contemporary at the same time. You feel like you're in for a dining experience! Our waiter Jed introduced himself and what a charming sir he is! If you're lucky enough to go to Rockpool and even luckier to get seated in Jed's section, tell him I said hi! Just so you know, he already told me we were his favourite customers ever but I'm sure you can be second.
Cassie Cakes Rockpool Sydney Review Mezzanine View
The view from the mezzanine. See what I mean about the spotlights? Cool.
 The dinner menu is a degustation of either nine ($145) or ten ($165) courses. The first six courses are made up of tapas style bites, starting with the Chicken Wing with Egg Batter & Konbu Butter. Each little chicken wing had been pushed down on the bone to make a perfect little handle. It was a beautiful luscious bite and the butter with konbu (which Google tells me is dried seaweed) was wonderfully salty and moreish. Had I been as influenced by the delicious wine as I was when I finished the meal at the start of the meal, I may have licked the butter from the platter.

Cassie Cakes Rockpool Sydney Chicken wing with konbu butter
These were so good. So. Good. I'm going to be saying that about a lot of these pictures.
 Next up, was Prawn Katsu with Coriander, Chilli and Rice Roll. Now this was not what I was expecting! I had imagined a deep fried prawn alongside a Vietnamese style rice roll but what came out was a little slider burger! Most surprising and most delicious! I tried to be dainty and took two bites, but I really could have shoved the morsel of burger in my mouth at once. But Rockpools food is made to be savoured. And I was wearing a nice dress so I thought I'd behave. I couldn't really taste the coriander on the roll but the prawn was crispy and it was delicious. I need to Google more words for delicious...
Cassie Cakes Rockpool Sydney Prawn Katsu Roll
Sliders at a fine dining restaurant? Hell yeah!
Third along our food journey was Spanner Crab with Tabasco Mayonnaise and Soy Bean. This was a little pile of crab on a piece of fried bread, resting atop a soy bean puree. I was truly delighted with this. What is so wonderful about degustation is that each plate is a burst of flavour and this was no exception. Each element was present and clear while not overwhelming. I really liked how you could taste the crab, it was allowed to be the star of the dish while the puree and morsel of bread were wonderful supporting elements.
Cassie Cakes Rockpool Sydney Spanner Crab
This is really pretty isn't it. Tasted awesome too.
The presentation of the fourth dish, the Chirashi Zushi of Tuna, Kingfish, Bonito and Squid was very appealing. Chirashi means 'scattered' and zushi, for those who don't know, like me, is apparently the correct spelling of sushi! Rockpool is an education as well as a meal. The fish was indeed scattered on a half shell, replete with a mother of pearl shine. Gorgeous presentation is a little redundant if it doesn't taste good but have no fear of that. It was divine. I like sashimi, but I've never been crazy about it. I'll usually have some but I get a bit over it pretty quickly. However if all sashimi tasted like this, I'd eat loads of it! I could have eaten nothing else and been happy. The three of us at the table all remarked about the high quality of the fish and the superb taste. This was one of my favourites of the night.
Cassie Cakes Rockpool Sydney Chirashi of Sushi
Sushi a la scatter. That's basically what they mean.
Now something pretty special happened between the next course! A little burner of sorts not unlike a Japanese version of a fondue pot was brought out and Jed poured liquid into a dish. He told us that when the liquid was done, it would be tofu! How cool is that! Tofu was being made at our table!
Cassie Cakes Rockpool Sydney tofu at the table
Tofu at your table.
I was pretty interested in what was going on in the Japanese fondue kit but the arrival of our next course demanded my attention. This was Blue Eye Trevalla with Apple, Radish and Red Date Infusion. The fish was a really decent portion size and it was cooked to the perfection. The red date infusion was lovely and a little sweet. The dill and radish garnish not only looked pretty but also paired with the fish as well.
Cassie Cakes Rockpool Sydney Blue eye trevalla
Do you think these fish have blue eyes? And wear blonde wigs? And lipsticks?
Then we got to see how our tofu was going! It was to go atop the Mapo Doufu with Avocado, Sea Urchin and Eight Precious Herbs. You know you're at a classy joint when they serve you
not one precious herb, but eight. Your tummy contents value is about to get precious. Jed served the tofu into each bowl and it was amazing. It was quite theatrical and exciting. And yummy. I think without the tofu on top, it wasn't the prettiest of dishes but the silky tofu forgave all sins.

Cassie Cakes Rockpool Sydney Mapo Doufu
Can you BELIEVE I didn't get a photo of this with the tofu on it? After all that fuss? All I can say I was that it was too delicious to wait for photos!
At this stage we were given bread. Delicious bread. And amazing butter.  Spelt bread with ricotta and house made butter, to be exact. We finished it off and Jed asked if we wanted more and as my sister politely said "Oh, no thank you", I simultaneously said "Hell yes!". So we got more bread. Best decision ever. I really am a go-getter. It should be on my resume, 'gets more free bread when offered'. Who wouldn't hire me!

Cassie Cakes Rockpool Sydney Spelt bread
Delicious bread. I know I've used that word a fair bit this post but it was! Delicious!
Up next was the chefs choice! This meal was written on the menu so I noted it down on my phone, please forgive me Rockpool if I got it wrong. This course was John Dory Cooked on the Bone with Sushi Rice Cooked in Coconut Milk with Crispy Chicken Skin. I actually think I got that spot on. This dish was amazing. The sushi rice has that wonderful sweetness that sushi rice does, the fish was succulent and the skin did what it said. It was chicken and crispy. Amazing. I do wonder what happened to the chicken meat that the skin came from as there was no chicken on the menu.
Cassie Cakes Rockpool Sydney John Dory with chicken skin
I think each course has had it's own plate! How many plates do they have back there!?!?
The final savoury course was our choice. My brother-in-law selected the Braised Beef Cheek Sukiyaki with Winter Melon, Gem Lettuce and Tendon. This was very prettily presented with the tendon the most wonderful pink colour. By reports it was tender and succulent. I'm always surprised by how palatable cooked lettuce is as well. You'd think it would be slimy and gross but it's not!
Cassie Cakes Rockpool Sydney Beef cheek
How pretty is that pink? If anyone knows what the closest lipstick colour to that it, I would love to know.
The beef cheek, as pretty as it was, was out prettied by my sisters choice of main - Snapper 'Ginger and Shallot' with Oyster and Buckwheat. The snapper was rested upon the buckwheat with a bit of shallot wrapped around it to look like a present. There also a flower on there. Fine dining at it's best! She said it tasted divine.

Cassie Cakes Rockpool Snapper
That is art.
My choice of main was the Partridge with Chestnut Filled Lotus Root and Bone Marrow Poached Quince. The partridge was cooked perfectly and was complemented so perfectly by the lotus root. Each mouthful was meltingly tender and so full of flavour. The sauce was aromatic and delectable and I mopped up every bit of it.

Cassie Cakes Rockpool partridge
I'm on my way to eating all the animals mentioned in the '12 Days of Christmas'.
Now it was time for dessert. We had discussed whether we wanted it or not and I was already really full. But as my brother-in-law said, we'd come this far, why not go the whole hog. I didn't argue with him. After we ordered dessert cam the pre-dessert. Yes. A pre-dessert. Fancy restaurants don't mess around! Pre-dessert was an absolutely delightful scoop of  Moscato Custard with Rhubarb, Apple and Streusel. The streusel provided a contrasting texture to the mousse of the rhubarb and apple. After I finished it though, I was seriously questioning my commitment to the dessert.

Cassie Cakes Rockpool predessert
From now on when I have ice cream then chocolate, I'm just going to say it's pre-dessert and dessert.
I choose the 'Strawberries and Cream' Ricotta Parfait with Strawberry Compote, Crème Chantilly and Sparkling Wine. The ricotta parfait had a crispy sweet shell and the sweetness of the strawberry compote went beautifully with the smoothness of the ricotta. There was also a surprise in the coriander sorbet! It seems to be a theme of Rockpool, classic and surprising!
Cassie Cakes Rockpool Strawberries & Cream
So pretty. Like the Natalie.Portman of desserts.
My sister choose the Vacherin of Pandan Custard with Coconut Parfait, Jasmine Sorbet and Lime Granite. This was presented in a crisp, meringue shell with the parfait resting on top. It was another really pretty dish and the smell was amazing with the lime, coconut and jasmine, it was truly fragrant.

Cassie Cakes Rockpool pandan custard
This is like a vignette of a snow field. Or something. I don't know, it's pretty.
Finally, my sisters husband chose what I thought was the most unusual dessert on the menu, the Sweet Potato Braised in Soy Caramel with Lemon Curd, Miso Ice Cream, Sesame and Candied Shiso. This was a very Asian inspired dish, fusion at its best! The crunch of the textures paired well with the ice cream and soft, candied sweet potato.
Cassie Cakes Rockpool sweet potato dessert
Is this paleo? It has sweet potato in it, so it's close. Let's just say it's paleo.
I could not eat another bite. Except I had to. I had to finish the Date Tart, the petit four served alongside dessert. The date tart is seriously famous and any search of Rockpool will tell you it's been served since 1984. The dates are covered with a creamy custard which is baked to a lovely golden colour. You can see why it's a signature dish.

Cassie Cakes Rockpool date tart
Man, it takes a long time to write a degustation blog post. Don't underestimate it.
I'd like to talk about the wine we drank too! I'm not a wine expert. I'm hardly even a wine novice. Is there anything below a novice, cos that's what I am. We drank a bottle of Chrisstine de Mianville, 'Chant de Vinge' which is a chenin blanc. It was from Jasnieres in the Loire Valley in France.  I know nothing about wine, I do know however that it tasted good. Also, it was $90. So it ought to.
This is like a farmyard of wine.
You could have rolled me out of the restaurant, I was so full. I had been jokin with my sister that we could always go grab a cheeseburger after the degustation as I was so hungry before we got there and my previous experiences with degustation had left room in my belly. If you'd put a cheeseburger in front of me after we had eaten at Rockpool, I would have slapped it away. Don't fear being hungry if you go!
Cassie Cakes Rockpool sign
I heart you, Rockpool.
Our experience at Rockpool was delightful from start to finish. From the grown-up, moody and sophisticated décor, to the well humoured, attentive and unobtrusive service provided by the completely charming Jed to the impeccable, inspired food. I can not fault Rockpool. A true dining experience.
Food: 5/5
Service: 5/5
Price: 5/5
Atmosphere: 5/5

Rockpool on Urbanspoon

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