It was the famous date tart (original since 1984) that made me really want to visit Rockpool and the opportunity finally came when three-hatted Rockpool recently launched its bar menu. The bar menu is fantastic – offering snack-sized versions of a few offerings on their regular menu, as well as some delectable bar snacks such as the truffle and cheddar cheese brioche.
Inside is dark, sophisticated and romantic. The bar is situated right in front of the kitchen where we could watch the chefs at work and whilst extremely excited to try the bar menu, I couldn’t stop wishing I was actually there for their restaurant menu. But I shall save that for another time.
To start, our bartender recommended the Pink Apple (Ketel One with Crème de Cassis, spiced syrup, apple and raspberry $19) and the French 10 (Tanqueray 10 with lemon juice, sugar and sparkling wine $21). There was definitely no lychee in the Pink Apple but both my friend and I could detect notes of lychee which I loved. But really, we were at the bar for the food.
The chirashi zushi of kingfish, tuna and squid ($9) is one of the snacks that are also on their regular dining menu. It was beautifully presented and was flavoursome with korean bean paste, kimchi and ginger adding flavour to the fresh fish.
What got us most excited were the finger sandwiches. The crab finger sandwich with tabasco mayonnaise ($12) was light with clean flavours as the tabasco mayonnaise was nicely balanced. It was wonderful but the caviar finger sandwich with chives and capers ($16) was even better because I loved the little bursts of umami from the caviar. Decadent.
Then came the cheddar cheese and truffle brioche toasted sandwich ($24) with such fragrant truffle that was shaved on top right in front of us. I love truffle but it seems to me that this season’s truffle has strong aroma but not enough in flavour. It was still an indulgent dish with perfect brioche – soft, buttery and not a bit dry.
Continuing with the truffling, we ordered the chicken wings with truffle and konbu butter ($25) which can also be found as part of their regular menu. The chicken wings were fried in egg batter till crispy and the konbu butter was full of umami.
Our final savoury dish was a downsized version of their classic rich and noble congee ($15), this time with blue swimmer crab, almond tofu, star anise peanuts and Chinese fried bread. The flavours were very much like Chinese congee but more refined with rich, punchy flavours and a kick of heat too from the chilli oil.
Finally it was dessert time and I could sample my first ever date tart ($3 ea) and it didn’t disappoint. The tart was very thin and crisp, filled with a custard that was baked so perfectly till the top formed a crispy layer over the soft and silky centre. It was also perfectly balanced so that the custard was not too sweet that it would overpower the aroma and flavour of the dates.
The other dessert on the bar menu is yuzu marshmallows with fennel sugar ($7). Marshmallows were soft like a cloud and they were great on their own, but dipping it into the fennel sugar also worked.
After all the food and drinks, we didn’t feel rushed nor a need to leave so we stayed to chat and watched all the food coming out from the kitchen. Then we spotted the couple next to us who had ordered a dessert that was not on the bar menu. We were already full but we still had to enquire and were delighted to find out that we could order from their regular dessert menu for $30 each. The selection was broad, with Asian-inspired desserts with flavour combinations such as pandan and coconut, sweet potato and sesame. I let my friend decide and she went with the most normal sounding ‘Strawberries and cream’ finished off with a sparkling wine. The ricotta parfait was coated in a crispy sugar layer that when cracked into, was reminiscent of the top layer of a creme brulee. An excellent finish to a relaxing night.
The newly launched bar menu is an excellent way to get to know what Rockpool is like before deciding whether or not you want to spend a special occasion (and the money) at the restaurant. For my friend and I – we were already discussing when we should come try the restaurant menu before we even left the restaurant.