Rocksalt Grill & Restaurant, Wollongong NSW
This restaurant has since ceased functioning.
|A look alike smoking cigar adorns dessert - a cinnamon roll with an ash front!|
Crispy salt soft shell crabs already heralded what the Rocksalt could do, an echo of the benchmark that this restaurant defines as their version of fine dining. With a menu extensively covering both seafood and the farm, it was a delight to try to find our choices of mains for this occasion in late May. Eventually we settled for the Wagyu Rostibiff from Darling Downs Queensland and the
Moss Vale sirloin. Both lived up to their articulated descriptions and our built up expectations arising from the source of the ingredients.
Opened in 2012, the Rock salt at One Marine Drive is sited on a hillock near the iconic lighthouse at Wollongong Harbour. It offers true blue Aussie items like the Bangalow sweet pork belly and Angus beef rump from Jondaryan in Queensland. Yet there is handmade pappardelle, served with roasted butternut pumpkin, braised baby shallots, pine nuts and Persian feta, all garnished by a sauce vierge.
Seafood items that jump out of the page include the Tassie Storm Bay Atlantic salmon, offered with an Asian twist by accompanying kai lan and bok choy vegetables and garnished by caramelised palm sugar and Sichuan pepper - this is so South-east Asian!
Cognac, fortified wines (so appropriate for dinner time) and port litter across the drinks landscape. There are Galway Pipe and Grand Tawny choices from Ireland, plus Hollick the Nectar from South Australia, as illustrations of the carefully chosen list available at the Rocksalt. My mate made an excellent selection in Shaw and Smith shiraz, so synchronised with our meaty mains.
|The vanilla flavoured creme brûlée was garnished with flower petals and a crunchy biscuit.|
It was a Monday evening and an apparently quiet one at that, but in the end that worked best for both of us, I reckon, having almost the whole restaurant shared with only a few others. The lighting was subdued and being early winter, the sunset had passed by the time we both made it to the venue after work. There were no parking hassles that evening unlike during summer days at this spot overlooking the main Wollongong ocean coastline. Service was attentive and yet non-intrusive. The food was good, the wine was flowing and I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation with a most appreciated friend.
Would I return to the Rocksalt? An obvious yes. I have not tried this venue on more busy nights - and it is good that they are not closed on Monday and Tuesday evenings, as most dining places in the Illawarra tend to be. I am impressed with their use of relatively fresh ingredients and efforts at presentation. I liked the entree of scallops best. I did notice the braised Cowra lamb shoulder done Moroccan style with poached saffron apricots and cous cous, but I did not feel the urge for Middle eastern fare that night. I also appreciated the options of several types of sauces in Bordelaise, Cafe de Paris butter and mustards. The kitchen responded to our medium rare requests for the grills with an almost perfect serve. I would be interested to try the marinated melon salad at the next opportunity.