Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Rockpool Bar and Grill Perth you decide

Myself and five other people dined in Rockpool Perth Fri 11 March. Overall the experience was extremely disappointing and a return visit at this stage is highly unlikely. The fit out and feel of the restaurant is amazing, superb job. But it is a bit like a school with great facilities with average teachers; one without the other is futile.
Upon arrival we ordered some cocktails and beers. I ordered 2 cocktails. The first one was garnished with a miserable piece of mint, nothing else. The second cocktail did not arrive until we had been moved from the bar to our table. I had to ask the waiter 15 minutes later whether the cocktail would be arriving. Apologies were voiced from this very pleasant waiter (heavily freckled face, white jacket) who seemed genuinely concerned about the delay. The second cocktail eventually arrived with an unimaginative offering of pineapple. Where is the imagination and art?
Entrees were fine apart from the over charred rock hard bread on the pork belly entree. My colleague’s sirloin steak was full of sinew. Inexplicably some of the steaks came out cut into neat rectangles. There may be a valid reason for this but the result compromises presentation and the feel of eating a steak. The effect seemed rather amateurish and reminded me of cutting up food for my young child. My T-Bone came with no sauce, if I was supposed to order sauce as an extra this was not indicated to me by the waiter. The chef must have had a moment of culinary inspiration when he decided to place a poorly cut lemon wedge beside the steak.  The steak itself was poorly trimmed with too much fat and overdosed with sea salt. The béarnaise that accompanied some of the other steaks was way too acidic and had very little warmth, little aeration and almost splitting.
The side of potatoes fried in wagyu fat and rosemary was average, basically overpriced Pommes Parmentier. My colleague ordered the boiled green which she indicated was laced with salt and unbearable to eat, I tasted and had to agree. One of our party requested mustard with her steak. The mustard condiments arrived just as the steak was finished. The waiter’s retort was that the steak was fine just by itself, very unprofessional. She offered to take the steak off the bill. Alarm bells should have been ringing at this stage and her supervisor should have been alerted.
The wine waiter brought the wrong bottle of wine and upon pouring the wine managed to pour part of it over my colleague’s hand. Those who declined wine were not offered an alternative. We had to ask for our water to be topped up on two occasions. The bread had to be asked for. Coffee was served yet we had to ask the waiter for sugar, my local cafe can these basic procedure right.
There seemed to be a total lack of management of staff. At no time during the meal did the maitre d’hôtel or someone approximating management approach our table and enquire about the quality of the meal or our enjoyment of the night.
Overall the experience was extremely upsetting and disappointing. Neil Perry was present on the night, in what capacity I am not sure. It seems to be me that his attempt to replicate his other offerings in the eastern states has been severely compromised by the recruitment process. His staff are you letting him down on too many accounts.
On the top of the menu is quote from Neil Perry, “The cornerstone of good cooking is to source the finest produce”. What he has failed to add is that you need chefs to cook it and waiters to serve it. The best fit out in the world and the finest ingredients does not a restaurant make. Most of the problems encountered are a reflection of average recruitment, poor training and absence of quality control. Did the chefs even taste their food? The average punter might be impressed but discerning diners will not be impressed. There is absolutely no excuse for these defects in a restaurant that is charging these prices.
A visit to Jacksons, Star Anise or Loose box will provide you with lessons on how a first class dining experience is catered for and the essential match between price charged and expectations met. The Wild Duck in Albany with it limited pool of staff manages to surpass this restaurant. Rockpool on this occasion has failed to deliver a quality dining experience. I  do not normally subscribe to critiques on the Internet however I am so incensed with this dining experience that there are not many options for recourse.