Southbank, VIC 3006
Ph: 8648 1900
Website: Rockpool Bar and Grill Melbourne
It's been two years since I've been to Rockpool. It seems like their menu hasn't changed much at all, but my opinion of it sure has. On my first visit, I absolutely loved it and couldn't rave about it enough to everyone I knew. Wind the clock forward two years and upon my current visit, I was so disappointed that I didn't even stay for desserts. That's right, me, dessert freak, didn't want dessert.
My friend Dan was visiting from Sydney and wanted to go somewhere, specifically requesting to eat a great lamb dish. I wanted to go to The Point originally as the Spring Lamb is sensational. But unfortunately, The Point wasn't open during that Christmas period. So I thought of the next best thing, which was Rockpool. We turned up exactly on time and announced ourselves at the front desk. The hostess on the left was nice and greeted us, while "Door Bitch" (not my nickname, see comments from previous post) was as cold and aloof as ever. Not to worry, I totally ignored her too and was led to my table. The table was on the bar side and right in the corner. I loved the other side of the room with the view of the river but sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.
Our waitress was very professional while also being warm with personable. I really liked her, and we even talked about our love of The Supersizers. She explained how the menu worked, asked us what drinks we wanted and left us some time to chat and browse the menu. Throughout the night, the wait staff were all very professional. The atmosphere in that part of the restaurant obviously wasn't as good as the other side, but that didn't really bother me. My sole disappointment was all about the food. It was terribly overpriced for the quality (not just referring to the quality of the produce but instead how it is put together as a whole dish) of meals that we got. We were both gutted and felt totally ripped off. Let me go through the food we ate and explain what I mean.
The Cured Meats Platter was suggested to us by the waitress as we said we wanted something light to share. For $37, you would think that you'd get something amazing. I know that jamons and prosciutto are expensive, but this was a joke. Please go look at the post on The Point and see what you get for $29 dollars with their Charcuterie Board. One of the jamons were good, but the prosciutto and salami were actually no better than what my local deli does, and that would cost a fraction of what we paid.
We then shared the Wagyu Bolognaise. To say it was disappointing is being generous. It was awful. As Dan commented, it tasted worse than store bought packet pasta, and I definitely agree. The bolognaise lacked any flavour and the supposed "hand made pasta on the premises" was super dry and had no flavour. Dan is Italian and I've had hand made pasta made by his Nonna and that kicked butt over this pasta. And Nonna just does a simple sauce, no fancy wagyu beef in it. We felt super ripped off for $25 when we could have eaten better, and way more of it, at home.
I ordered the Lamb Cutlets and Chops, expecting something amazing. I know that Rockpool does their meat simply, but surely for $40 I can get more than just a couple of grilled cutlets slapped on a plate. Again, look at what you get for $40 at The Point. That lamb dish had so many different flavours, textures, sauces and was super moist and full of flavour. This lamb was by no means bad meat, but seriously, that afternoon I was at a BBQ and the lamb cutlets there were quite similar. Dan got the Wagyu Topside Steak. The meat was cooked correctly to order, but there were some really charred bits that were bitter and hard to eat. The steak comes with a lemon wedge and mustard if you want. For $49, that's simplicity. I know that you don't want to ruin meat by doing too much to it, but there is also a point when it can be underdone. The steak lacked proper seasoning even, so tasted bland.
The sides that we got were the Sauteed Mushroom and the Mac and Cheese. The mushroom was a pile of soggy, super salty mush that I couldn't eat. I had to leave most of it as it was just so salty. The Mac and Cheese was similar to packet stuff. It was terrible. The macaroni was super tough, and the cheese were burnt bits on top of it. There was no creamy flavour from the cheese coating the macaroni. Please, please, please, Rockpool, consult Iron Chef Shellie on how to make a Mac and Cheese that's full of flavour and texture.
By the end of the savoury food, despite suggestions from many Twitterers about what desserts to have, I just wasn't in the mood for it. This truly disappointing meal cost a whopping $120 each, and we each only had one beer. The food was where all the disappointment was. Looking back at my previous visit, I was lucky to pick entrees that were either simple or luckily done well. The mains I had then was the super expensive wagyu so of course I'd like it. I was seduced by the wagyu and failed to notice that it wasn't even served with a salad. Lastly, classic desserts that I had last time would probably still be good now, but I didn't get round to trying them. I can now see why Rockpool has such mixed reviews from people. I won't be back at Rockpool for a while, and my patronage will definitely be at The Point, whose quality has risen greatly since Executive Chef Scott Pickett took over the reigns.
Overall Rating: 11/20, Extremely disappointing overpriced food.
Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20:Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.