Okay, I can't guarantee you'll get a 5 out of 5 stars experience if you go. But I did.
I was staying in Chatswood overnight so I searched restaurants on this site and found that most were Asian. I like various sorts of Asian cuisine; I like Asian-fusion. Nothing against Asian food ...but I like to buck the trend a bit, and I thought that if most restaurants in the area are serving Asian food one way or another it would be a challenge to run a successful non-Asian menu. I found a few Italian places, then I found Rocket. The reviews looked interesting, then I checked the website and thought the combinations of flavour looked very interesting indeed. Duck with pistachio, sour cherry and radish? Yum!
So I made a reservation. The person I booked with was helpful when I said my time of arrival could be flexible; he was happy to put me down for 7.30-8pm. He introduced himself as Peter. The restaurant turned out to be only 100 metres from my hotel, very handy. When I arrived a couple were hopefully asking for a table - fully booked, sorry. looks like reservations are wise.
Gin and tonic to start, Bombay Sapphire; there were a few choices. Sourdough and butter and a little teacup of zucchini soup with paprika oil floating on top. Umm, hello, but I just don't really like zucchini ... but this was absolutely gorgeous. Delicious. Divine. Perfect. Wow.
As an entree I ordered the duck rillettes with sour cherry etc as mentioned above. The combination of flavours was as I hoped, an ideal blend. The sourness of the cherry cut through the fattiness of the duck while balancing the pistachio; the shredded lettuce and radish refreshed your palate in between bites of the duck. If an entree is the entrance for your appetite to approach a meal, this worked perfectly.
The wine list isn't grand, but is accommodating. I went with reliable MacLaren Vale. There are also 8-10 beers, again not a broad range but a few commonplace, a few unusual and a few rarities.
My main was the char-grilled eye fillet with mushrooms, potato puree and red wine jus, with a side order of green beans and garlic. I ordered my steak a little over medium. Ideally if it's done this way a thick chunk of steak will still be pink in the middle but have some nice charred bits on the outside, and everything in between. That's how it came. The potato was heavenly, the mushrooms rustically flavoursome, the jus was strong but not too strong, the beans were crispy fresh. It was a substantial enough main course to take time, but I wasn't overwhelmed or stuffed.
I did take a little time to rest before considering dessert; sipped the wine, sipped the water, nibbled the last crust of bread. Then I saw the desserts being carried to other tables - artistry of presentation is a nice start.
There were only three dessert choices: strawberry souffle, chocolate cannoli, or meringue with lemon curd, berry sorbet and mixed berries. The souffle and cannoli were racing out of the kitchen; almost everyone was ordering one or the other of those star attractions, which were each beautifully presented. So I just had to be contrary; I had the 'pavlova'.
The meringue was perfect in both taste and texture. Nothing like those miserable hard-as-a-rock things they sell at hot bread shops or large supermarkets - or at the local RSL where it's about six inches of marshmallow with a sliver of shell around it. No, the meringue was a nice dollop of crisp shell with a spoonful of varyingly soft interior. The lemon flavour of the lemon curd was nice and tart without making your face distort; the berry sorbet fruity and fresh and the berries themselves nice and plump. Deelicious.
Would you believe I had the cheese plate and a dessert wine as well? There was a stilton on the cheese plate, what could I do?
Plus coffee, and it was good coffee. And so that was, lessee ... amuse bouche, entree, main, dessert, cheese plate, G&T, glass of red, dessert wine and coffee, for less than $140. One reviewer commented on the price; to me that's a very good price if the meal is good, and it was extraordinary. The entrees and desserts were between $16-19; the mains between $28-37. That's not cheap but it isn't expensive, by any means.
Peter, the host came over for a chat as I was working my way through the cheese plate (which came with grapes, apple and figs, by the way). He wasn't intrusive - none of the staff were - so I was happy for him to join me for a while. Interesting fellow, and interested in his customers.
Everyone in the room seemed to have a good time while I was there. A family with small kids was tactfully placed at the end of the room so they could enjoy without the children disturbing anyone. The whole place is thoughtfully run. I can't recommend it enough.
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