Rockpool Bar and Grill – Sydney CBD

Rockpool Bar and Grill – Sydney CBD

It’s been a while since my last post so I thought I’d go back to basics and review the one thing that stoked my interest in food blogging in the first place, a burger! And don’t worry, I’ll start reviewing places that’s not in the CBD soon.

So I finally got the chance to check out the famous Rockpool Bar & Grill this past Thursday when one of my workmates suggested visiting for a nice work lunch, to which I gladly obliged. Located in the heart of the Sydney CBD, and just a few minutes walk from our office, it makes for a prime gathering spot for anyone in the city that fancy a nice establishment to whet their palette. And the first thing I noticed when we walked in were the exquisite marble columns in the main fine dining section of the restaurant, it’s a shame I did not get the opportunity to snap a few pictures but it is a truly beautiful sight. The bar section where our group sat was impeccably furnished as well, hanging above us was essentially a giant chandelier made up of hundreds of wine glasses that gave the bar a really upscale feel.

Enough about the décor though, you’re here to read about delicious foods! Rockpool’s burger selection was slightly limited in that they only had on offer the Full Blood Wagyu Hamburger – $24 and the Grass Fed Mishima Burger – $21, and I went with the full blood wagyu because it was their more popular choice.

After about a 30 minute wait, all of our burgers were brought out at the same time. That’s my biggest concern with dining in a medium to large group, most of the times the restaurant would bring everyone’s food out in one go so nobody is left sitting there with nothing in front of them but, more often than not, someone’s food is a bit colder due to the wait. But thankfully that was not the case with my burger though.

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I am surprised I didn’t create a drool puddle as I was taking the pictures as the burger looked as good as any I have ever had. The wagyu patty was humongous, the pictures don’t really do it justice in terms of how big it was in real life, the cheese was on point and the bacon sitting perfectly on top of both of them. Oh and there were some grilled vegetables stacked on top of the cheese and meat, with some more off to the side of the burger in what I assumed was an attempt to add some decoration to the plate while also trying to fill the empty space that should’ve been occupied by some fries that came with the burger order. While I am on this tangent, no, the $24 price tag of the burger does not entitle you to some french fries, or chips as they would call it here in Australia. If you want some potato goodies to go along with your meat sandwich you would have to either cough up $6 more for shoestring fries or $12 for hand cut chips. Yep, Rockpool chips cost more than an entire lunch at most other places in the city.

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Anyway, back to the burger itself, I had wholeheartedly wanted to embrace and love this burger given how beautiful it looked and how grand the establishment is but it just wasn’t meant to be. The patty, while huge and having a good amount of juice from being done medium-rare, did not have much flavouring to it. That would usually be okay if the rest of the burger complemented it with added flavours but that was not the case here. The cheese and bacon added very little flavour, I could not really taste the bacon at all actually, it also was not very crispy so it didn’t accomplish much on the texture front either. And the vegetables, while being a nice and unique touch that added some good texture to the bite, did not show up to the flavouring game either. It was as if they had decided to leave all condiments in the pantry and let the customers mix and match their own flavours. But for $24 I was not inclined to do extra work aside from sliding the burger down my gullet. It’s kind of like an amateur athlete that looks really good on paper, has off the chart measurables and drill results that get drafted really high and then flop once they play in actual games.

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To summarise, I was disappointed with the execution of the burger even though it aced the visual checklist. The lack of flavouring was its biggest downfall while most of the ingredients for success were there between the buns. I would give it another try somewhere down the line, I just hope whenever that is they would have added more flavours to their burger by then, as well as made the bacon better and a more integral part of the burger. My grade for the burger would be a 3.5 out of 5.0, with much room to improve. Grade for the fries/chips, a 0.5 out of 5.0. I mean, seriously, why?

For the FBAS folks:

Burger – 3.5/5.0 pickles

Spuds – 0.5/5.0 pickles

Zomato Review

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Belly Bao – Sydney CBD

Belly Bao – Sydney CBD

After hearing many good reviews for it, I decided to try out the famous Belly Bao myself, along with a bunch of friends from work so I don’t turn into the guy that eats in a dark corner, in a basement pub, by himself.

Sitting on Liverpool Street here in the Sydney CBD, it’s an ideal spot for any after-work outings with officemates or just catching up with friends. On this occasion, my work friends and I were coming straight outta an escape room.

With 14 people in tow, our humongous order included the likes of: BBC (Belly Bao fried chicken for the uninitiated and/or dirty-minded), Sweet Potato Fries, Papaya Salad, That Slaw, Crackling Roast Pork Belly Bao, Slow Braised Pork Belly Bao, Panko Crumbed Chicken Breast Bao, Soft Shell Crab Bao, Slow Braised Beef Short Rib Bao, and the Crispy Tofu Bao. So essentially 90% of the entire menu, but we did miss out on the famous Baoger due to it only being available on Thursdays. Pricing-wise, most of the items on the menu started out at $6.50.

As much as I would have liked to try a bit of everything that we ordered, my limited stomach space just wouldn’t allow it. However, I was able to manage a few pieces of the fried chicken that several of my compadres had ordered and kindly offered to me. While the fried outer layer was good it was not quite as crispy as I was hoping for, if KFC fried chicken’s crispiness is a 10 on a scale of 1 to 10, the Belly Bao chicken would get a score of 6 for how crispy its skin is. But once I got over the disappointment of the surface, the meat underneath was extremely tender and tasty, not a single bite of the chicken felt dry at all. The old saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover,” definitely applies here. Under the could-use-more-crispiness surface lies one of the best tasting fried chicken I have had. A Bryan satisfaction of 8 out of 10 for the BBC.

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Side note, in one of the other buckets of chicken my workmate had discovered a chicken feather among its fried brethren, not inside one of the chicken pieces but sitting alongside them in the bucket. While some may find it off-putting my colleague did not think it was a big deal, and I personally think it demonstrates a certain level of freshness for their ingredients.

Aside from the fried chicken, I also indulged myself in the sweet potato fries before the baos had arrived. They were done well, not overly sweet and also had a bit of spice added to it for that extra flavour on top of the natural sweetness. The spiciness was a good touch to the dish, receiving a BSAT of 7 out of 10.

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After waiting a little while longer, the main dishes came, and first up was the Panko crumbed chicken breast bao. My initial reaction was that it was smaller than expected but reminded myself that it’s not how big it is but the quality of it that matters. To that end, I have to say I wish I had picked a different item to try. The chicken was soft to the bite but didn’t feel like it had much flavour on its own, or perhaps it was overshadowed by the sauces applied to it, but it felt like I was eating bread crumbs with very little meat. It may look like a small schnitzel but it tasted more like a maccas filet burger while being slightly smaller and costing a bit more. I wouldn’t be against trying another one just to see if my first bao was an aberration, but just based on this initial experience the BSAT was a disappointing 5 out of 10.

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And finally, the one bao that I was waiting the most eagerly for, the braised pork belly. Unlike the crumbed chicken I was actually expecting the pork belly to be soft and tender to the bite, and just from the looks of the bao my hopes were sky high. The pork belly looked the part, seeming as if it will melt from the slightest touch, being held gingerly between the two buns and sitting alongside lots of traditional Taiwanese street food dressing. My high hopes were completely fulfilled upon the first bite into the bao; the pork belly tasted as soft and tender as it looked, melting away in the mouth while leaving a distinct aromatic flavour that blended perfectly with the dressing. I am glad the braised pork belly bao was delivered to our table last, no matter if by design or by happenstance, it served to erase the bad memories of the chicken bao before it and helped the meal finish on a high note. BSAT of 9 out of 10 was achieved.

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Overall, it was a very good dining experience and atmosphere inside the Belly Bao. We were there on a trivia night so the place was jam packed with very little standing room, definitely glad we had made a booking ahead of time and would recommend doing the same if you’d like to pay a visit to this place. I would personally come back again, especially on a Thursday, just to try their famous baoger, as well as the other baos that managed to escape from my clutches this time around.

Zomato Review