On arriving in Sydney, a colleague asked the hotel's concierge to reserve somewhere "moderately priced" for a team dinner. A few hours later, we were ordering from the eye-wateringly expensive menu at Rockpool. Not exactly what was planned, but an unexpected bonus.
Rockpool is an a beautiful room - a restored insurance trading hall, complete with soaring marble pillars and a domed roof. The waiting staff, and most of the clientele, are similarly easy on the eye.
The menu, dominated by seafood and Wagyu beef, makes for an appetising read, although I'm not sure that we really need seperate volumes detailing the joyous and fulfilling lives of the cattle that have been slaughtered for our benefit. Even allowing for Sterling's precipitous decline in value against the Australian Dollar, prices are high - combined with the sumptuous surroundings and cock-sure staff, expectations soon reached stratosphereic levels.
They weren't really met.
On the recommendation of our server, I started with the tartare of tuna and aubergines with harissa and mayonnaise. There's no denying that this was a tasty dish, but the taste was of decent harissa paste which completely obscured the tuna and reduced it to the status of "random protein". Meanwhile, the addition of mayonnaise and some oily aubergines to the mix gave the tartare a sickly, cloying texture, rather than the light fresh mouthfuls that you might expect.
A main of Wagyu chuck brasied in red wine was more disappointing. I had expected tender pieces of meat which could be cut with the side of a fork. Instead, the plate held slices of a steak which was dry, slightly chewy and not particularly tasty - despite the, unpleasantly huge, band of fat running through the entire steak.
A colleague thought that his barramundi was the finest piece of fish he'd ever eaten; that may be true, but I struggle to characterise my meal as much more than very well presented bar food. Certainly, I'd have still felt robbed at half the price.