Rockpool Bar and Grill is in what was an insurance building dating from the 1930s. Art deco touches remain in what is a striking space, with a vaulting ceiling, marble pillars and dining spread over two levels. The vast room can accommodate 180 diners at any one time, with a central display of Riedel glasses the central feature of the room. Tables are of black wood with no tablecloths, with matching black upholstery: the grill attracts a very masculine clientele (over 90% of the diners when I visited were male), many of them clearly there on business.
On one side of the room the open kitchen is visible, the chefs preparing the dishes of the meaty menu. For this is very much a steak place, though other dishes are offered. Beef from three different producers is offered, including wagyu from David Blackmore, the top producer of wagyu in Australia. Starters were priced from AUD 16 to AUD 35, while the beef options culminate in 200g of 15 day aged wagyu fillet at AUD 115. Side dishes are extra, around AUD 12 and designed for sharing. I was eating on my own and asked for a couple of one-person sized side dishes, to be told that "the kitchen doesn't do that", though they relented when I complained about this obviously nonsensical statement.
The wine list is vast, with 3,500 different wines catalogued in a huge 169 page list, the cellars having 22,000 bottles stored. Gisbourne Chenin Blanc 2009 at AUD 48 was the cheapest wine I spotted. The excellent J.J. Prum Gracher Himmelrech Riesling 2007 was AUD 119 compared to a retail price of AUD 68, Penfolds Bin 389 from 1998 was AUD 219 for a wine that sells in the shops for AUD 111, so markups are not excessive. There were two dozen vintages (back to 1969) of the sublime Guigal La Mouline, the 2000 vintage priced at AUD 950 for a wine that would set you back AUD 600 in a shop.
I started with roast chorizo and potato, a pleasant and hearty dish. The potato was cooked properly, the chorizo was of good quality and the combination made sense (13/20). My fillet of beef from Australian grain-fed cattle was excellent, cooked as I had requested and having plenty of flavour (15/20). This came with fat chips that were crisp on the outside (13/20) and slightly overcooked winter greens (12/20). I skipped dessert at this lunch.
Service was efficient if not warm and cuddly, and the bill came to AUD 102 (£67) for two courses with tap water only. This is the main issue to consider. The beef here is of very high quality, and this costs money, but it would be easy to run up a very large bill here.