Category Archives: Neil’s Restaurant Stories

THE BEST OF AUTUMN

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

As we slide through the 2nd month of Autumn here in Australia and into Easter, it is time to take a look at the amazing ingredients that are making some of the Rockpool chefs tick right now – what they love, why they love it and, most importantly, how they are using it.

We put the word out to Brendan, Dan, Corey and Zac, and here’s what they came back with…

Brendan Sheldrick, Rosetta, Melbourne

“Wild hare and venison from the fantastic Otway ranges in Victoria”. Pure water and excellent pasture make for some stunning produce coming from this Southern food bowl. At the glamorous Rosetta, Brendan is serving ‘Charcoal grilled wild venison with butternut squash puree and balsamic onions’.

Dan Masters, Rockpool Bar & Grill Perth

“I’m loving Genoa figs and Big Eye Tuna…and the sublime WA Marrons”…currently being served with Plum, fennel, olives and mint’.

Corey Costelloe, Rockpool Bar & Grill Sydney

Corey is “all about the mushrooms from Oberon out West, figs and the phenomenal multi-award-winning oysters from Tathra on the NSW South Coast.” Gracing Rockpool Bar & Grill’s menu – ‘Wood fire grilled slippery jack mushrooms with soft polenta and fontina’ and ‘ Tathra oysters, freshly shucked with mignonette sauce’.

Zac Nicholson, Rockpool Bar & Grill Melbourne

“I’m loving the pine mushrooms too, like everyone else I imagine. Can’t get enough of them!” Zac is plating up the ‘Sauteed pine mushrooms with potato gnochetti, fontina and a slow cooked egg’. Wowza. Time for a trip South!

Whatever your favourite produce this season, we are bound to be able to assist! Come and join us at any of the Rockpool group restaurants for all the very best of Autumn on your plate!

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EASTER AND ANZAC DAY TRADING HOURS

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

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Easter is nigh. It’s upon us, here already, where did the year go…and all of that! At this time of year, every year, we sit back, albeit temporarily on our heels and muse over the swift pace of things in general, and then ever so quickly our minds turn to seafood and chocolate. There are many reasons to celebrate the Easter holiday and each and every one of us will celebrate the time in our own way, whether in a spiritual way…or a foodie way – and let’s face it, food is it’s own religion!

Here are the Rockpool Group’s trading hours over the Easter and ANZAC Day long weekends and a few menu suggestions should you be looking for the very best in Australian seafood and chocolate indulgence…

Easter trading

Our 3 Sydney restaurants will be open for dinner only on Good Friday and dinner only Easter Monday – other than that, it is business as usual, with the restaurants open for dinner on Saturday.

Down Melbourne way, Rockpool Bar & Grill is business as usual; Rosetta and Spice Temple will be closed Monday lunch.

Heading West, Rockpool Bar & Grill Perth is as normal.

staff B&W

ANZAC Day trading

All Sydney restaurants will be open for dinner only.

Melbourne and Perth – business as usual across the board for your dining pleasure.

And so to the ‘food’. Allow us, if we may, to select a few of our Easter dining suggestions for your perusal…

Rockpool

Chirashi zushi of whiting, kingfish and squid
Bass grouper ‘ginger and shallot’ with oyster and buckwheat
Chocolate grand cru of Valrhona with peanut butter and jelly

Chirashi Zushi 1

Rockpool Bar & Grill Sydney

Cured ocean trout with pickled red onion, coriander seeds and toasted brioche
Spicy mussel and saffron stew with charcoal roast seafood and aioli
Milk and dark chocolate, caramel and macadamia shortbread

Cured Ocean Trout  Mussels

Spice Temple Sydney

Take a few friends and take on a banquet offering. Prawn wontons with black vinegar and chilli; fish drowned in heaven-facing chillies; greens stir fried with fermented bean curd and pippies live from the tank with XO sauce

Spice Temple Pippies  Spice Temple Sichuan Fish

Rockpool Bar & Grill Melbourne

Four raw tastes of the sea
Grilled Glacier 51 Toothfish with braised chicory and hazelnut crumb
Dark chocolate mousse cake with fleur de sel

Four_Tastes_001  Interior Private Room

Rosetta

Start in the ‘Crudi and carpacci’ section – scampi with orange, pistachio and mint, then move to ‘Fish of the day’ – a selection of seafood from Corner Inlet, Victoria – a piece of garfish or King George whiting or perhaps snapper – char-grilled and served with braised zucchini, garlic and basil
Flourless chocolate cake with vanilla chantilly and grated milk chocolate

Rosetta_dusk_main_d#1357F9B  2012-10-11_Rosetta_0018

Spice Temple Melbourne

It is yum cha all the way here – jade scallop and crab dumplings; pork and prawn siu mai; fried squid with 5 spice salt, dark chilli paste and cabbage salad; spring onion pancakes…finish with raspberry and chocolate ganache candy bar

YumCha_054

Rockpool Bar &Grill Perth

Wood fire grilled Fremantle octopus with spelt, preserved lemon, almonds, garlic, green chilli and parsley
Crispy King George Whiting with red braised vegetables and herbs with aioli
Banana, Dulcey chocolate, coconut and caramel tart

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herever you dine these fast-approaching holiday weekends, enjoy your celebration and stay safe on the roads.

Happy Easter and Anzac Day from the Rockpool family.

Neil’s March column for the Qantas Australian Way In-flight Magazine

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

EAST MEETS WEST

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What comes to mind when thoughts turn to dining in Perth? Breezy seaside eateries, perhaps. Great steakhouses, of course! But the West Australian capital also has authentic Asian restaurants that are well worth seeking out.

Look past the laminated tabletops at Good One BBQ (808 Albany Highway, East Victoria Park, 08 9472 4354) and be rewarded with cuisine that sticks in your mind far longer than any fancy interior. The soy chicken is tender and succulent, the roast pork is crisp on the outside and melt-in-the-mouth inside, the barbecued pork is too good to pass up. As for the roast duck, wow! I usually pair all this with a stir fry of prawns and XO sauce, with a side of Chinese greens and oyster sauce. Take along a bottle of riesling or pinot noir and a few beers for good measure. This ain’t fine dining, but it is fine food.

Without a shadow of a doubt, Silks (Crown Perth, Great Eastern Highway, Burswood, 08 9362 7551) is Perth’s best Chinese restaurant. Within the elegant confines of Crown Perth, it serves age-old dishes done in an innovative way. By day, they roll out excellent dim sum and by night, some of the country’s best roast meats. It’s big-night-out dining. Special occasion? Book one of the private rooms looking out over the city skyline and the Swan River. What to order? Indulge in one of their three degustation menus, make for the roast meat selection, or tackle the nicely committed abalone offering. For me, though, it’s all about the dumplings, which include steamed Shanghai-style crabmeat, pearl meat and scallop versions, as well as crisp, fried Patagonian toothfish taro puffs (yes, really!). Finish up with some steamed salted-egg-yolk custard buns.

Kiri Japanese (142 Onslow Road, Shenton Park, 08 9388 2727) feels like the local you’ve always wanted. For lunch, it’s all very home-style, featuring simple dishes cooked with love. I head straight for the una juu (eel with rice) and miso soup; or green-tea soba with tempura. The dining room is compact, with only a dozen seats, but for dinner the formal restaurant next door opens to serve a contemporary take on Japanese food. Chef Takaaki Komagata trained in kaiseki and sashimi in Japan and his talent is immediately evident. My failsafe picks include the cold marinated steamed duck with radish, spring onion, Japanese mustard and yuzu pepper paste; and the dengaku eggplant with lotus chips and miso sauce. The food is seasonal, well-balanced and exceptionally executed.

Fabulous little Itsara Thai (25 Stirling Highway, Nedlands, 08 6389 2441) was recommended to me by Thai friends as the place to go for traditional Thai flavours enlivened by modern techniques. The food is beautifully balanced with chillies, fresh herbs, palm sugar, kaffir lime and fish sauce all used as they should be – a wonderful combination of hot, salty, sour and sweet. Chef and co-owner Itsara Pracharoenwattana is always careful to use the freshest produce available.  I have three go-to dishes here. Miang boran pla is a classic betel-leaf starter that marries the sweetness of roasted coconut, palm sugar and prawns with the acidity of pomelo and a hit of Thai spice. Pia long tang (fleeing fish) is essentially crisp fried fish with mango, lemongrass and kaffir lime, mixed with ginger, cashew nuts and a sweet chilli dressing. Choo chee (red curry) duck is quite possibly my favourite dish as it’s balanced and rich and oh so good. I like to wash it down with a cold beer.

HAPPY 25TH BIRTHDAY ROCKPOOL

Friday, February 28th, 2014

Today we wish our beloved flagship restaurant a happy 25 years.

Exactly how to define our ionic diner and what does it all mean? A quarter of a century…we’ve done so much, inspired and been inspired; times have changed dramatically and we’ve gone with the flow, sometimes not. It’s hard to explain exactly what a little ‘Rockpool-ness’ is, but it’s certainly a dash of determination, a pinch of decent cooking and a good glug of fine wine…that, and a tough skin.

Let’s take a look back at 25 experiences, people, situations that go just a touch of the way to telling our story…

22  1

ONE
There will only ever be one. Rockpool. Just one…

TWO
2 people that are more Rockpool than anyone, Trish Richards and Neil Perry. Cousins, business partners, friends and co-owners. When you become a part of the Rockpool family, you truly do. Sure, there’s the odd bad joke from Neil and the odd scary 5 minutes in the office with Trish when you’ve overspent on glass washer detergent this month, but Neil and Trish have long exercised a loyalty to their staff like no other. You feel safe in their hands. Happy birthday you 2 – we hope you are extraordinarily proud of what you have created and how you have lived and loved it through the years.

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THREE
Hats. The 3rd one has been back for a few years now, but it’s no secret we shave had our struggles with the ‘hats’ over the years. We gain one, we lose one, we get frustrated and curse into space at those who giveth and taketh away – their ability to change the bottom line and whether such awards should carry such power. It has been a love hate relationship, no doubt about that.

FOUR
In 2002 we were named 4th best restaurant in the world. Neil travelled to London to accept the award alongside industry peers and such luminaries as Alain Ducasse, Thomas Keller, the late Charlie Trotter and Heston Blumenthal. Lasting friendships were forged with the greatest chefs on the planet and many would come to visit us in the years following as we cooked the now infamous Ultimate Dinners for Starlight. They still come…

6  14

FIVE
It was 1988 at a long boozy lunch at Claudes restaurant when Neil Perry and winemaker Jeffrey Grosset got talking wine. Some time the following year, Jeffrey Grosset delivered his first case of Rockpool Riesling to George St and we’ve been pouring it ever since.

SIX
Restaurant critics (see point 3). Yes…hi Leo, Terry, Simon, we’re looking at you. We’ve loved you and ummmmm, not loved you so much in equal measure over the years but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, they say, and sometimes, just sometimes, we manage to turn you around too.

SEVEN
The chefs. There has been some serious talent across the pass. Phil Wood leads the brigade these days and far from the rising star we often call him (because he looks so young!), Phil is now well and truly established as one of the country’s top tier. Mikey, Kylie, Ross, Andy, Khan, Catherine, Amanda, Dave, the list is truly endless and a bottomless pit of talent.

3  5

  EIGHT
Alessi pepper grinders. I’d like to say 8 is the number that has been flogged from table tops in the last 25 years but we can probably safely add a good zero or 2 to that. Classy, timeless, still with us.

NINE
The ramp at George St. Walk through the front door. Your gaze would head up the Rockpool ramp, tables dressed along the side, kitchen in full hum to the left. It was a little like walking our very own ed carpet or heading up the steps to receive your academy award. It made people feel a little special.

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TEN
The return of the trolley. The champagne trolley, the cheese trolley. We are bringin’ it back at Bridge St!

ELEVEN
The managers. Multi-tasking geniusses who can handle the weirdest situations on the planet and act like it was nothing extraordinary, built of rock and mortar with an incomprehensible ability to withstand stress…all in a days work, as such. Frase, Narelle, Terry, Tom, Silvio, Richard, Linda…this list extends my memory. Legends, all.

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TWELVE
Seafood. We’ve become known for many great dishes and events over time, but Rockpool was always and is still, very much about delivering the best seafood available. It’s our ‘thing’! From the sweetest un-dipped prawns to abalone, lobster, Murray cod, Dory and more. The best fishermen, the best suppliers, sublime cookery. That’s us in an oyster shell!

THIRTEEN
The Oyster Bar – it was there in 1989 in all its retro, shiny, mirrored fabulousness. It was there many many years later, an incarnation that was far more subdued in manner yet brighter and whiter and very very Sydney. It will always be a part of what we do.

FOURTEEN
Behind the scenes. It takes a lot and many to run a restaurant. Out on the floor, behind the high profile managers and chefs and hostesses dressed in black, there are hard working individuals polishing glasses, running dirty plates through dishwashers, stocking toilet paper, taking deliveries of fruit and vegetables and whole bodies of animals (that damn hatch!). There are human calculators adding up the bottom line and asking questions (hi Sue); men and women sitting on phones taking reservations and juggling tables, booking in private parties, explaining menus; waiters ironing shirts; PAs booking flights back and forth across the country and simply making stuff happen. It’s exhausting out there!

DSC_6324  Staff 4

FIFTEEN
Mr Hai. This is no list to focus on individuals. There are many many fantastic staff that have done their time, served well and left their print on the Rockpool stones, but Mr Hai left an impression on every single person he met and particularly those lucky enough to work with him. A kitchen hand who was so much more, our Vietnamese friend had quite the history and was with us from the very beginning until he died after a long battle with cancer some years back. Nothing was ever too much trouble and you would trust this man with you life. When he wasn’t creating precision order in the wet room he was out showing the rest of the team how it was done over late night poker and whisky sessions on a Sunday night. Always remembered.

SIXTEEN
The hatch. This one is for the delivery guys…and the poor chefs who stood below as the produce hurtled down. From the footpath, it looked like a fabulous old hidden doorway leading into a dungeon below George, full of mystery and stories and aged with legend. It was, in fact, a highly utilized, death defying trap door down which unknown quantities of fresh fruit and vegetables, meats, seafood and dry goods travelled daily. No regular old through the front door stuff for us!

SEVENTEEN
The signature dishes. They are many but there is a small group of Rockpool dishes created in the early years that remain on menus today – from George to Bridge and even gracing the menus of our other restaurants – the stir fried spanner crab omelette, date tart, Korean style tuna tartare…

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EIGHTEEN
The Rockpool chairs. Stephen Roberts designed them for us and they were with us till the end at George St, mere months ago. They deserve a spot in Australian design history in our opinion, but for now, will be a point of conversation at many a private dinner party across the nation.

NINETEEN
The sommeliers. Richard, Emma and all those that poured before you – what great dedication you show to your craft, and cheers to you guys for getting us on the Wine Spectator awards radar and keeping us there.

 16  Richard 4

TWENTY
In 2009 we turned 20. An incredible milestone for any restaurant, anywhere. So proud, we were…

TWENTY ONE
Our suppliers, growers and producers, past and present. These guys make us tick. They inspire us, grow for us, educate us. Way, way back at the very beginning, there were a few young guns out there starting to push the boundaries and things started to get exciting. As chefs, we were asking more questions of our suppliers and they were starting to get answered. It was brilliant. John Susman of The Flying Squid Brothers, Matt Brown of Matt Browns Greens – these guys became instrumental in sourcing quality product and there was suddenly no looking back. Serge Dansereau, chef at the Regent at the time was another instrumental individual, reiterating to all that we didn’t have to take second best and that buying local was the way forward. Today – we have the cream of the cream looking after us and delivering to our door and sometimes we go straight to the source. It goes a long way back and we could never possibly mention them all – but Will Studd, John Susman, Barry McDonald,  Vittoria, Victoire, Iggy’s, Vics Meats, Simon Johnson, David Blackmore, Cape Grim, Feather and Bone, Christies – these, but a drop in the ocean and that’s before we even start mentioning the wine makers. Thank you all, from the very centre of our heart.

TWENTY TWO
One beautiful producer who inspired us early is the incomparable Gabrielle Kervella. Gabrielle farmed goats that she loved like her children, made the most beautiful cheese from their milk, and we went on to create one of our most beautiful dishes with it – the original Rockpool goats cheese tortellini.

TWENTY THREE
The customers. Where would we be without you? You make us or you break us and you have made us, and made us happy. Our customers are second to none. Some visit a day, others a lifetime and we simply couldn’t do it without you. We like to say we are in the business of creating memories and feel we have created many a god one for these fine loyal folk. We look forward to many happy years with you.

TWENTY FOUR
In our 24th year we bid farewell to our first and only venue at 107 George St, The Rock and headed up the road to Bridge St. George St – we share beautiful memories and you’ll never be forgotten but Bridge – you’re a new time. We’ve been rebirthed and we look forward to the next 25 with you.

TWENTY FIVE
25 candles for us today.

Terry Durack wrote in a recent review of Rockpool…”it feels very…right”.

We couldn’t agree more Terry, couldn’t agree more. Happy birthday Rockpool!

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The CEO CookOff 2014

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

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Take 37 of Australia’s top chefs, 120 CEOs and members of the business upper tier, and add 900 attendees – members of Sydney’s disadvantaged and homeless community. Add them all to the fabulous Carriageworks in Eveleigh on Monday night and you have the 3rd annual CEO CookOff, a join initiative from OzHarvest and Qantas.

The CEO CookOff is an incredible event that aims to feed the homeless, while at the same time raising awareness of food wasteage and how simple it can be to turn excess food into nutritious meals for those in need. Additional focus this year was on indigenous communities and youth in crisis with funds going to Tribal Warrior and the Life Changing Experiences Foundation.

Our very own Neil Perry, OzHarvest ambassador was there of course, with trusty side kick Mike, cooking alongside legends Maggie Beer, Guillaume Brahimi, Peter Gilmore, Jared Ingersol, Nathan Sasi, Giovanni, Frank Camorra and many many more. Each chef cooked their signature burger this year with Neil going all out and even adding tomato and lettuce. Go chef!

Vittoria boss Les Schirato was the leading CEO fundraiser. Last check, the overall tally was sitting at over $1 million raised. What an incredible result!

It is always a great pleasure to take part in charity fundraisers of such incredible worth, to do whatever bit we can to help those in need. We take our hats off to Qantas for their support and to the incredible Ronni Khan for her vision and undying devotion to her work. OzHarvest continues its drive to turn excess food into nutritious meals for Australians in need with 21 vans on the road delivering food to over 500 charities across Australia.

Congratulations to all those involved and may we all continue striving to do whatever we can to help our fellow Australians.

6  3

HAVE NEIL PERRY COOK FOR YOU AT HOME

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

Goats Cheese  2 3  4

Fancy the idea of Neil Perry cooking dinner for you? In your own home, no less, with 9 of your closest friends who will doubtless love you forever after this one!

All you have to do is dine at any Rockpool Group restaurant between February 1st and June 30th and tell us what your favourite Neil Perry or Rockpool Group dish is. Simple, right? How you could possibly choose between goat cheese tortellini, date tart, tea smoked duck and son in law eggs is beyond me – so good luck with that!

The winner will be drawn on Friday 4 July 2014, and dinner must take place between July 2014 and November 2014, date pending Neil’s availability.

There’s a few terms and conditions of course, but nothing too crazy, so take a look here. We wish you the very best of luck – time to get reminiscing.

Bon appétit!

THE YEAR THAT WAS – ROCKPOOL, 2013

Friday, January 10th, 2014

That was massive, right? 2013? We rocked it, there’s no doubt and we intend to carry right on rocking it through 2014 and beyond, so grab your hats folks and hold tight. Here we go, our year in retrospect…

2013 could only be called a year of contrasts – from floods to bushfires, Julia to Ruddy, Abbott and beyond, we have lived and breathed just about all of it this past year. Much of it was good, some of it was amazing, and a portion downright challenging – nothing changes, really.

January

We herald the new year with a heatwave across the South East of Australia and consequent raging bushfires in Tasmania, followed by a monsoon trough over Queensland and New South Wales. Flooding and tournadoes claim the headlines. We await a year of crazy weather, cross our fingers and dig deep for all those affected.

Atmosphere  Neil Perry

Over in LA, the annual Gday USA shindig is kicking off. We do our bit at the Qantas Spirit of Australia cocktail party and the team up with culinary mate Tom Colicchio for a Qantas media lunch at Craft LA.

Australia Day rolls around and our fearless leader Neil Perry receives an Order of Australia medal in the Australia Day honours list for ‘significant service to the community as a benefactor of and a fundraiser for charities, and as a chef and restaurateur’. Proud? As punch! CEO of the Starlight Children’s Foundation, Louise Baxter, summed up Neil’s contribution by saying, “Neil Perry is an exceptional example of an Australian who is continually giving back and gives selflessly to organisations who support those in need, and has made an enormous contribution to the hospitality and restaurant industry both within Australia and on the world stage. Neil does this while being incredibly humble and asking for nothing in return.”…we couldn’t agree more Louise!

February

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It’s the OzHarvest CEO CookOff. Over $1 million was raised with proceeds being shared between OzHarvest, The Big Issue and ONE80TC. Neil cooked it up with mates including Maggie Beer, Marty Boetz, Poh Ling Yeow, Mike McEnearney, Matt Moran and Guillaume Brahimi with chopping, slicing and dicing courtesy of some of Australia’s top CEOs and business leaders.. Only 43 bandaids distributed that we know of!

We celebrate Chinese New Year 2013, the Year of the Water Snake. Spice Temples Sydney and Melbourne serve special banquet menus incorporating ingredients that promote health, wealth and fertility…Northern style pork buns bring ‘Family unity’ and Crispy lucky duck with steamed bread, shallots and hoisin – ‘Fidelity’….whilst Stir fried deluxe mushrooms, baby king brown, enoki, oyster, shitake and white cloud bring us a worthy dose of ‘Prosperity’. Nice.

Still in Feb and we kick start the ‘Classics lunch menu’ at Rockpool on George, every Friday.

We bring you the much- loved Rockpool dishes of yester year, from Fish fillets poached in coconut milk with garam masala, and Herb and spice crusted tuna with eggplant salad, to Stir fried spanner crab omelette, Chilli salt squid and date tart! A culinary wander through the archives. Delicious amounts of fun.

March

5  6

It’s March. Tensions are…well, tense in the labour party. Prime minster Julia Gillard brings on a leadership spill. Assumed challenger Kevin Rudd sits tight and does not contest. Things as they were…nothing to see here, people.

Kimi Raikonnen wins the Australia F1 Grand Prix.

Spice Temple Melbourne brings us the 80’s Chinese dinner! Staff are clad in silk, carnations adorn the tables and lanterns are at their ambient best. A highlight of the previous dinner at Spice Temple Sydney, the rocking 80’s soundtrack specially prepared by the wonderful Anton Monsted was a huge hit. Prawn toast, crab and corn soup, lemon chicken and Mongolian lamb were amongst the star dishes, and deep fried ice cream of course.

And…we update the bar menu at Rockpool Bar & Grill Sydney. Hello to such fabulousness as the ‘Play it again Pierre’ and the ‘Zombie deluxe’… and the menu itself describes our ‘cocktails for revelry’ as “Boat Drinks”, or “cocktails for that ‘just released from prison feeling’, for those who see in the bottom of a punch bowl a horoscope of gaiety, joy, revelry, carousing and happy madness!” No wonder we love working here.

Our stunning beef ageing program continues to star across all our restaurants.

7 8

April

Much-adored racehorse Black Caviar is retired, with an unbeaten record of 25 wins under her saddle.

Chrissy Amphlett dies in New York. A sad sad day for the Australian music industry and her many fans worldwide.

9  10

Neil does a touch of filming with Qantas in the middle of the dessert, in Dubai and we ‘Feed Melbourne’ at The Gourmet Soup Lunch. Brendan from Rosetta served up the ribollita, Rockpool Bar & Grill’s Will was on the parsnip and honey soup and Ben from Spice Temple patiently braised the Chinese pork and cabbage. $7 got you a delicious soup and a bread roll from Phillippa’s Bakery. Every cent went to Melbourne food charities.

11  12

Out Qantas way, Rockpool Consulting was proud to play their part in an immaculate gala dinner celebrating the new partnership between Qantas and Emirates. Held in Hangar 96 at Sydney Airport, tables were laid beneath the mighty wings of the A380.

May

13  14 15

All seemed quiet out in the world in May. At Rockpool, we put on some fantastic dinners for Qantas EpiQure at Spice Temple Sydney and Rosetta.

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Neil and Brendan set sail for Lizard Island to take part in the Wolf Blass Gourmet Weekend (nice work if you can get it!), the poor old staff in Sydney had to suffer through a caviar tasting. Poor things. Bleeding hearts. Yeah yeah. And Rockpool Bar & Grill Sydney hosted the Great Gatsby/ Tiffany event.

June

20  21

Kevin Rudd defeats Julia Gillard 57 to 45 in an Australian labour party leadership spill (see March).

Rockpool helps Icebergs in Bondi celebrate 10 years! Well done guys. Happy birthday! No mean feat!

Spice Temple Sydney holds their Shaanxi regional dinner. Wood roasted lamb skewers with heaven facing chilli amongst the wonderment.

Heston Blumenthal is in the house at Bar & Grill Sydney making little Levi McCormack’s wish come true.

July

22  23 24

The Wine Spectator Awards are announced. Rockpool Bar & Grill Sydney wins it’s 4th consecutive Grand Award. Only 73 restaurants worldwide hold such awards are we are so proud as always to be amongst them. All 7 Rockpool restaurants are recognised. Amazing!

Neil and Brendan head to the fabulous Kauri Cliffs in New Zealand to present a few of their favourite Rosetta dishes… San Danielle prosciutto with cabbage and parmesan; Seafood risotto with tomato and chilli; Slow cooked lamb with caponata and rosemary potatoes; and Panna cotta with stewed rhubarb

Cocktail master James Connolly, from Rockpool Bar and Grill Perth is named in the year’s Australian Bartender top 100 Most Influential List.

25  26

Neil cooks up a dish fit for a king on the Today Show, Bread and butter pudding.

The Fine Wine Partners and Gourmet Traveller WINE 2013 Australian Wine List of the Year Awards. We are thrilled to receive three awards; Best wine by the glass at Rockpool Bar & Grill Perth, Best Informal Dining Wine List at Spice Temple Melbourne and Best Digestif List at Rockpool Bar & Grill Perth.

27  28

The winner of Rockpool Bar & Grill Melbourne’s inaugural ‘Apprentice Cook Off’ was 3rd year apprentice James Mitchell, mentored by Robbie Bell. James’ dish was ‘Grilled red mullet with seasonal vegetables, oyster beurre blanc and chestnut farfalle’. Winners are grinners.

August

Award season hits.

The Australian Gourmet Traveller Awards are held and all 7 Rockpool Group Restaurants are named in the Top 50 with Rockpool on George leading the charge at number 6.

Rosetta, Rockpool Bar & Grill Melbourne and Spice Temple Melbourne all score 2 hats in the AGE Good Food Guide awards. A very special congratulations to our Melbourne General Manager, Vanessa Crichton for taking out the Service and Excellence Award and to Ben Shewry and the team at Attica on taking out the big one – Restaurant of the Year and Ben, Chef of the year – as always, it is great to be a part of this fantastic industry and have peers of such incredible talent and depth.

September

29  30

The Liberal – National coalition led by Tony Abbott wins the 2013 federal election (see March/ June).

Neil travels to London to cook a Qantas lunch at Phil Howard’s ‘The Square’.

He also goes ‘MAD’ in Copenhagen.

Rockpool on George retains 3 hats at the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide awards. Spice Temple and Rockpool Bar & Grill retain 2 each. Legends, all.

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September 28 sees the day finally arrive for the 2013 Ultimate Dinner at Rockpool Bar & Grill Sydney. Thomas Keller, Heston Blumenthal, Brett Graham, Ben Shewry, Grant Achatz, Neil Perry and Phil Wood in the house. Blush! Neil’s chef mates gang up on him and remove a portion of the treasured pony tail. All in the name of The Starlight Children’s Foundation.

October

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The International Fleet Review is held on Sydney Harbour to celebrate the centenary of the first entry of the Royal Australian Navy fleet in to the harbour.

The 2013 New South Wales bushfire season begins with menacing force.

The Marriage Equality Act 2013 is passed in the Australian Capital Territory, making the ACT the first state or territory to legalise same-sex marriage in Australia.

38

We commence the incredible ‘All Star Dinners’ at Rockpool on George. Welcome home Mike McEnearney, Kylie Kwong and Ross Lusted (also Sydney Morning Herald’s Chef of the Year), we missed you!

An awesome wine dinner at Rockpool Bar & Grill Perth (they do these so well!) with Peter
Althaus of Domaine A Stoney Vineyard.

Rosetta turns 1!!!

Neil’s latest book, ‘Simply Good Food’ is released. It’s always so exciting – these things take agggggges to finally get to us!

Our very own David Lawler from Rockpool Bar & Grill Melbourne is elected as President of Sommeliers Australia.

Rockpool Bar & Grill Perth gets their own taste of The Ultimate Dinner for the first time. Heston stays behind, David Thompson steps in – all remaining superstars – as you were!

It’s Good Food Month in Sydney and we throw ourselves into some fun events – ‘The Classics’ at Rockpool on George; ‘Cantonese Food I Love’ at Spice Temple; and ‘The Great Australian Dinner’ with Rene Redzepi and a gaggle of Australia’s finest chefs.

It’s the last full month of Rockpool on George. We are moving. To Bridge Street. Early November. Lots of stories, memories, regulars popping in just one last time. Emotional times.

Wow, October was big!

November

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Fiorente, wins the 2013 Melbourne Cup. Someone wins the Rockpool sweep. It’s not me, as usual.

Our bar team at Rockpool Bar & Grill Perth are on fire! Congratulations to David Nguyen-Luu on being named as WA’s Best Mixologist at the AHA award.

Goodbye Rockpool on George after 24 ½ years at this iconic site as we head to the future iconic site on Bridge St and it is full steam ahead! We close after dinner service on Saturday the 9th and prepare for opening Tuesday at the new gaff. Crazy? Perhaps, but that’s just the way we roll. Neil spends the last full week at George St in the kitchen with Phil. Tears…but hellooooo Bridge Street! We share some memories…http://www.rockpool.com/2013/11/memories-of-rockpool/

Rockpool on George goes under the hammer as we sell off so many of her beautiful bits and pieces.

December

Australia regains The Ashes for the first time in seven years. The white wash is yet to come (it happened in January!)

Wild Oats XI takes line honours in the 2013 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, clocking up 7 wins.

Pretty new Summer uniforms at Rosetta in pastel shades…gelato-esque…

Terry Durack gives Rockpool (as we now, once again, refer to the mothership) 18/20 within her first month at the new Bridge St location.

Christmas puds.

We prepare for Christmas and the new year. http://www.rockpool.com/2013/12/the-twelve-days-of-christmas-2/

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People fill the restaurants and toast a mighty year. We hope yours has been mighty too – and very much look forward to sharing great food, wine and good times with you all in 2014.
Stay safe,

The Rockpool family x

CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR OPENING HOURS

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

Nearly there now. Days left. There is still time to eat, drink, indulge and enjoy…and if it’s ‘escape’ you need, from the heat and the surge of the city crowds mid-shop, then pop right on in. We are here. We will help you relax. Is it bubbles or cold beer you need? Yep, we can do that. Stir fried lobster with XO? A Wagyu burger? Gelato, pavlova, soufflé and tart? Yep, got that too. Whatever your needs, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth – come see us.

We’ll be gliding into 2014 with a smile on our faces at Rockpool. It’s been such a busy year. We have had openings, shufflings, good times and deadlines like never before and we are looking forward to all that is coming up in the New Year.

Wherever you are and whatever you are doing this Christmas and New Year – stay safe, be happy and enjoy. Grab your nearest and dearest at 11.59 on December 31st for a good hard squeeze and we will see you on the other side.

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Rockpool Bar & Grill Perth ~ lunch Sunday to Friday/ dinner 7 days

Closed December 25

Spice Temple Melbourne ~ yum cha Thursday to Sunday/ dinner 7 days

Closed December 25

Rockpool Bar & Grill Melbourne ~ lunch Sunday to Friday/ dinner 7 days

Closed December 25

Rosetta ~ Lunch Tuesday to Sunday/ dinner 7 days

Closed December 25

Spice Temple Sydney ~ lunch Monday to Friday/ dinner Monday to Saturday

Closed December 25 and 26

Dinner only January 1

Rockpool Bar & Grill Sydney ~ lunch Monday to Friday/ dinner Monday to Saturday

Closed December 25 and 26

Dinner only January 1

Rockpool ~ lunch Monday to Friday/ dinner Monday to Saturday

Closed December 25 and 26

Dinner only January 1

HAPPY NEW YEAR ROCKPOOL FRIENDS X

 

THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Monday, December 16th, 2013

We love a little ‘twelve days of Christmas’ at Rockpool. Truth be told, if you asked the staff treading the kitchen mats and table aisles their thoughts at this point of the year, chances are there’d be a little sarcasm sent back – something along the lines of…“Twelve days? Twelve DAYS?” Yep – it’s busy out there and we love it! That said, the swans have pretty much swum, the geese have laid and the ladies have most certainly danced, so let’s crack into it!

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On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

‘The Cut Stick…a vibrant and refreshing mix of Bacardi Superior rum, Palo Cortado sherry, almond syrup, fresh lime juice and pimento bitters’. Where do I sign up? This fantastic concoction has been put together by living Rockpool legend David Nguyen-Luu, Bar Manager at Rockpool Bar & Grill Perth and one of the “Top 5 most Promising” Bacardi Legacy National Finalists in the global cocktail challenge. We find out if he wins in March. David also just happens to be WA’s Best Mixologist, as awarded at the AHA awards in November. Where do we get these guys? Just lucky I guess…

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

A copy of Neil Perry’s latest cookbook, Simply Good Food’. Hmmmm. Do we go Asian, Italian or Mexican today? Taco, tagine or tasty tidbits. It’s all there. Personal favourite? Strawberry yoghurt cake – it’s not for sharing! Oh, and while we are at it – if there’s a copy of Alice Waters’ ‘The Art of Simple Food II’ available, we’ll take one of those too thanks.

On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

A glass or 2 of rarely seen wines by the glass, from the ‘Iconic Producers of Australia’ list at Rockpool Bar & Grill Sydney. This is a simple case of indulgence (if simple and indulgent can indeed co-exist)…sip on a piece of Aussie history with a glass of Seppeltsfield ’100 Year Old Parra Vintage’ or the Jim Barry ‘The Florita – Cellar Release’ Clare Valley 2004

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

The most amazing gift voucher for the new and so so very very beautiful Rockpool on Bridge Street. I’ll be booking that cosy table for 2 upstairs…the one in the corner looking down over what Terry Durack calls a ‘mesmerising’ dining room. I’ll be saying yes when the champagne trolley comes past, and yes again at the end when it turns to cheese. The legend does indeed continue.

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

Neil Perry’s Christmas pudding!!!! Yay!!!!! It’s plump, it’s traditional, it’s fruity and filled with brandy and it’s oh so good. They feed 4 and I’ll take 2!

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

A discounted Qantas Club membership. You’ll need to grab that booking at a Rockpool restaurant before December 24 to nab this pretty awesome deal. Think about kicking about in the club pre-flight in 2014 instead of the aimless wander of the airport. Deep sighhhhh…

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

We’re at Spice Temple in Melbourne and looking for a little spicy relief from a hard day of Christmas shopping. Grabbing some friends – heading in for a banquet feast – from pork belly sliders, all the way through, past spanner crab and Wagyu and ending up at mango pudding. What’s not to love! I’m washing it all down with a 4 Pines Krolsch.

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

Gelato and Rosetta – to match their ever so pretty new uniforms in, well, the colours of gelato? I’m having pistachio and Fior di latte – I might come back tomorrow to tackle the special lunch menu, 3 courses for $55.

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

Lunch at Spice Temple Sydney – coming to you ‘live from the tank’! We are indulging in mud crab, pippies and crayfish – draped in such deliciousness as XO, black bean and chilli, ginger and shallot and 5 spice. Factoring in Zodiac cocktails!

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

Lemon cupcakes with vanilla butter cream at Rockpool Bar & Grill Melbourne. Maybe it’s Boxing Day…and maybe I’ve survived a good sale or 2, so I deserve them. Bring on the sugar rush!

On the eleventh day of Christmas…

We take a moment to reflect and pay homage. A couple of industry stalwarts left us in 2013. We remember Chefs Charlie Trotter and Judy Rodgers. May they rest in peace.

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to meeeeeeeeeee…

12 puds-a-plumming, 11 cakes-a-baking, 10 craaaaaackers, 9 wines chilling, 8 beers-a-swilling, 7 dumplings frying, 6 whole roaaaaast chooks….5 gelato cones, 4 cookbooks, 3 spa sessions, 2 sleep ins…and a partridge in a pear tree!

Merry Christmas everyone.

Neil’s December column for the Qantas Australian Way Inflight magazine

Monday, December 9th, 2013

WEST SIDE GLORY

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With all the travelling I do to keep my restaurants in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth ticking over nicely, I sometimes forget to have three square meals a day. But I refuse to forgo breakfast. Morning calls for simple food, done well. Or, to put it another way, great produce that’s been cooked (or stirred, or juiced) to perfection. Here are my picks for where to break your fast in Perth.

You’re on the coast, so why not hit the beach? Bib And Tucker (18 Leighton Beach Boulevard, North Fremantle, 08 9433 2147, bibandtucker.net.au) takes the cake for location, straight-up. The views of Rottnest Island and up the coast are stunning. Fortunately, so is the Campos coffee. On the food side of things, it’s hard to go past the wood fire-baked eggs with za’atar and flat bread, or the chai-spiced granola with honeyed yoghurt, apple and pomegranate salad. After something a bit more carnivorous? Plump for the smoked ham hock with braised white beans, gremolata and a poached egg. The food here is consistently good and the atmosphere casually cool.

For another beachside brekkie option, head up the coast a little to Cottesloe. The smell of the sea and the aroma of locally roasted coffee from Il Lido Italian Canteen (88 Marine Parade, 08 9286 1111, illido.com.au) make for a heady combination, one only bettered by the addition of a house-made pastry – or a fully cooked breakfast. It is, quite simply, an idyllic location in which to start the day.

Back in Perth proper, warehouse-style Gordon Street Garage (16 Gordon Street, West Perth, 08 9322 8050, gsgarage.com.au) has to be one of the hippest spaces around. The food falls into two categories: classics done well and classics given an artful twist. Honey and pecan bircher muesli with poached stone fruits gets a big tick from me, as does the bruschetta with avocado, heirloom tomato, labneh and rocket. For something truly substantial, go the Garage breakfast: you’ll be rewarded with eggs, pinwheel sausage, streaky bacon, wood-fired mushroom, smoked tomato, potato fry and baked beans. After that, you’ll be sorted for the rest of the day.

Heading north-east to Maylands, Mrs S (178 Whatley Crescent, 08 9271 6690, mrsscafe.com.au) is cute as pie and practically compels a good cup of tea and a slice of cake. Everything is artfully mismatched and “vintage”, from crockery to cake tins. It almost makes one’s teeth ache, but I like it. (Little Golden Books as menu covers; see what I mean?) But it’s not all shabby chic style over substance. The ham, gruyere and fried egg toastie is an absolute knockout. And how about lemon curd cake to go with that cup of tea? It might be a bit naughty for breakfast, but Nanna would surely approve.