Saturday, 6 October 2007

Rocksalt reviewed

Rocksalt is a fine dining restaurant at the Hawker shops. I had a very pleasant evening there last night with some people from my choir - good company, good food, good wine, good service. The style is modern Australian, and the decor is clean-lined, with a mix of linen tablecloths and wood, and the occasional bit of corrugated iron. There is carpet on the floor, which helps to buffer the sound and keep it possible to converse with your companions.

The food is very good indeed, well prepared and presented. A champagne sorbet was served between entree and main. There is a separate vegetarian menu, and several items marked as suitable for celiacs. All dishes in the menu are matched with a suitable wine, that is available by the glass. The menu has a nice mix of relatively traditional and more creative dishes. No-one was quite bold enough to pick the blue cheese baked cheesecake for dessert, though...

I had a half dozen huge fresh pacific oysters with a Thai cucumber salsa, a beef cheek "tarte tatin" with a Morton bay bug, and a citrus sabayon dessert. My beef was meltingly tender, the jus rich and tasty. The dessert was outstanding, with the little orange cakes accompanied by blood orange segments, and a blood orange and licorice sorbet. Magnificent. Other people were equally happy with their meals - the lamb shanks looked huge, generous and falling apart, the mushroom dish met with praise from our vegetarian, the lemon and white chocolate mousse in brandysnap basket was impressive.

I could quibble a little over details, and I will since it's fair to hold a high priced meal to much higher standards than the pub. The menu seemed a bit on the heavy side, with perhaps too much on the fried and rich end of the spectrum. A good winter menu, but it is spring now! The pastry on the beef "tarte tatin" was swamped to irrelevance by the pool of sauce. The meals are inconsistent in vegetable content - mine had just 3 spears of asparagus, while other people had more greens. This makes it a bit hard to decide whether to order sides of vegetables or salad. I don't like having to do that: I believe that restaurants should always include a decent serve of vegetables or salad, for the sake of a well-balanced meal. Finally, I thought that the tokay recommended with the citrus dessert didn't really match very well. Perhaps a moscato would have been better? Not that I'm a great wine expert, I just think that citrus is hard to match and it made the tokay taste a little thin and bitter. It was delicious to finish afterwards, though.

These are only minor quibbles, and I'd heartily recommend Rocksalt for a special occasion dinner. It worked out to about $80 per head, though we were an abstemious party - only one bottle of wine, a couple of pre-dinner drinks and a couple of dessert wines among the six of us. For moderate drinkers, you could expect about the $100 mark.

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