Rockpool Bar & Grill (bar)

Crown Casino
8 Whiteman St
Southbank VIC 3006
+61 3 8648 1900

So Adam and I have been dying to try the famed David Blackmore wagyu burger at Rockpool Bar & Grill for quite some time now. To quote this year’s Good Food Guide, ‘you can feast on wagyu in hamburger form for [$22] while nearby restaurant-goers are having it unminced for $110.’ Because we were going to be in the city today for the Dali exhibition, we figured that it would be a great time to stop by Rockpool to suss out these supposedly awesome burgers before going to the gallery.

12pm on a Sunday afternoon. The place is dead quiet. The fact that Rockpool bloody charges a 10% surcharge on Sundays probably has something to do with it. I didn’t know about this surcharge and probably would not have chosen to come here today if I did so you can imagine how I felt when we were told that. Still, I figured that we may as well stick to our plan seeing as we were here anyway. Oh, and not to tip them anything beyond a few gold coins.

As you open the door, a smoky yet aromatic hits your nose. Walking through the hallway, which is covered in awards that the restaurant has won, you realise that the smell is coming from the grills of the open kitchen – a sign that this restaurant is a steakhouse. Further down the hallway, a glass cabinet that acted as a fridge filled with aged wagyu greets you.

Lovely .

When we told the waiter that we would like to eat from the bar menu, we assumed that we would actually be sitting on top of bar stools so we were impressed when we were led to a row of comfy booths. Granted, our table was not in prime position (i.e. by the window where natural lighting would have been my friend!) but this was pretty good.

Everything was so sleek, so sexy and so masculine. Leather-topped tables, leather seats, and strong mahogany panelings served as a testament to the fact that this restaurant was, after all, a steakhouse.

This photo of a cow appeared on the back of the menu to, once again, remind diners that WE WERE IN A STEAKHOUSE. Just in case we didn’t get it the first time.

Okay, I don’t know about you but unlike Jamie Oliver, I don’t really like being reminded where the food I’m about to consume is coming from. I’d rather be one of those ignorant people who like to think that our steak come from prepackaged plastic trays, churned out by robots in the coolroom of Safeway rather than a living, breathing cow. It does, after all, make me feel less guilty about eating meat … but anyway, that’s another issue for another time.

So the waiter asks us if we would like some bread and butter, to which we replied “yes, please.” I mean, isn’t it sort of a given at places like these?! We were both given one single slice of warm sourdough and a pat of unsalted butter with some Murray River sea salts to start off proceedings. Not the best bread I’ve had but nothing to whinge about.

We both decided to go for a bottle of McLaren Vale Pale Ale each ($9.50 each) which I thought was pretty sweet for a beer – almost as sweet as a wine even. I did enjoy it immensely though.

We asked for a serving of Neil Perry’s Four Raw Tastes of the Sea ($26) to share between the two of us and it was assumed that one big plate was going to be put on the middle of the table for us to share so imagine how delight when we both received our OWN plates for our convenience:

This dish comprises of four different kinds of sashimi, which you can see above, with their own little sauces and toppings, all made with an extra virgin olive oil base:
-Hiramasa kingfish with minched cos and tea smoked oyster topping
-Ocean trout with preserved lemon and harissa (my favourite one)
-Yellowfish tuna with julienned ginger and coriander
-A ceviche of swordfish belly with a citrus and jalapeno dressing

A fantastic way to explore the different textures of each individual fish and each dressing suited each individual morsel to a tee. I did, however, feel that the sashimi could have been a little bit more fresh but hey, that’s what I get for ordering fish on a Sunday…

There are two wagyu burgers offered at Rockpool: the full blood wagyu burger and the Mishima burger (both $22 each). Wanting to know what the difference between the two were, Adam decided to go the full blood while I chose the Mishima. Apparently, the Mishima cow is only found on a remote island in Japan and no one outside the country has access to them so it’s a mystery as to why David Blackmore ended up with the only Mishima cow to have ever left the country and has successfully bred it down the line to produce only 10 of its kind per annum which he ONLY supplies to Rockpool. Knowing this, I felt an air of exclusivity when our burgers finally arrived after a half an hour wait (!).

Our burgers looked exactly the same so I didn’t bother taking a photo of Adam’s one on its own. Each burger came in a bun with a slice of gruyere cheese, bacon, Zuni pickle and tomato relish. While Adam’s wagyu was extremely rich and full of taste (thanks to the high marbling content and the cow’s grain diet), mine was smokier and had a cleaner taste (perhaps thanks to its grass diet). While I preferred the full blood over the Mishima, it was nevertheless good to experience the two of them at once to see the difference. As good as both burgers were, I can’t see myself paying $22 for a burger willy-nilly in the future.

We shared a side of onion rings ($9) which came with their own home-made ketchup that looked a lot like sambal olek but tasted like ripened tomatoes on a sugar trip. I’ve never had onion rings this good and this crispy… yum!

We were both extremely happy with our meal. While Adam declared it the best burger he’s ever had, I was reluctant to say the same as I feel that there ARE better burgers in Melbourne. On its own, I probably would not have bulked at paying $22 for the burger (and I WAS quite full afterwards) but given that I promised Adam that I’d shout lunch, the grand total was a whopping $98 which was then hiked up to effing $107.80 because of the stupid “Sunday surcharge.” Quite an expensive meal when you think about it, really. And although I know that I’m paying extra money for quality and exclusivity, I think I would be just as happy eating a $5 burger with the lot from my local takeaway store. Having said that though, I would not hesitate to return to Rockpool again to try their a la carte menu … once I get over the fact that a steak would set me back $110…
I eat too much.

4 Comments

  1. icesabre
    October 5, 2009

    Thumbs up for the Wagyu burger MAHAHAHAHA!Right now I’d say it is the best burger in Melbourne…… but I may change my mind when I try Shannon Bennett’s “snob” burger.I am going to do something really out of my comfort zone and head to Rockpool (a fourth time in three months) and try the Four Tastes of the Sea.0_o

    Reply
  2. icesabre
    October 11, 2009

    @SNSAZN –  Shannon Bennett once served a $100 burger at VDN. Wagyu. Truffles and Quail egg. He still does one at Bistro Vue/Cafe Vue/whatever Vue but waaaaaaaay cheaper. I wanna test it out but I ain’t in the City for lunch aaaaaaaaargh.

    Reply
  3. SNSAZN
    October 11, 2009

    @icesabre – Must be the $15 Cafe Vue burger. I should give that a try next time… maybe this Thursday. Woooo!

    Reply
  4. […] Neil Perry’s first Melbourne restaurant that Friday evening in April. Having had the famous Rockpool wagyu burger two years ago – and thinking it was good – we were keen to nibble on Perry’s meat […]

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