Rockpool Bar & Grill, Perth

Perth is not to be outdone when it comes to new and innovative venues opening up and it’s not just a ‘small bar boom’ that’s invigorating the city. As of January this year the Rockpool colossus established an outpost on Australia’s western shore with the well versed trio of Neil Perry, Trish Richards and David Doyle delivering their Rockpool Bar & Grill concept much to the city’s gastronomic delight.

With the name already well-established in Australia’s culinary psyche it was important to create something new and unique for the Perth venture. The end result needed to compliment the feel of the new space as well as the style of the city. What resulted is a spectacular venue that has a capacity for 180 diners including two private dining rooms as well as a 58-seat bar – so it’s certainly not light on for space.

“Designed by Grant Cheyne, the [Perth] restaurant is softer and more relaxed than its Sydney and Melbourne sister,” says Linden Pride, Beverage Manager of Rockpool Group. “The site features a large, light and spacious dining room with central open kitchen and signature, wood fired grill, custom designed furniture and lighting, and views into the impressive wine cellar and meat ageing room.”

“While we deliberately imparted a similar handwriting to the Melbourne and Sydney restaurants, Rockpool Bar & Grill in Perth is unique and distinctly different. For example, instead of using cows as the graphic for this restaurant (as we have used in Melbourne), we used some of the exotic seashells that come from Western Australia’s vast oceans for the menus, business cards, coasters and portraits throughout the restaurant.”


Slightly less glamorous than what is there now, the Perth’s Rockpool Bar & Grill sits atop what used to be the Burswood Food Court and the ‘new life’ took 12 months to come to fruition.

Of any difficulties along the way Pride says; “Overall, it has been finding good staff and sourcing the best possible produce. Having said this, the staffing of bartenders has been of a very high standard and we have been lucky to have a number of young, passionate individuals join the team and really embrace the concept.”

Grant Cheyne was again recruited to bring the latest chapter of the Rockpool clan to reality. Cheyne is also responsible for the successful venue designs at the other Rockpool Group sites – Rockpool Bar & Grill (Melbourne), Rockpool Bar & Grill (Sydney), Spice Temple (Melbourne), Spice Temple (Sydney), The Waiting Room (Melbourne) and a refurbishment of Rockpool Sydney.

While opening five venues within 24 months might be thought an insurmountable task, Pride says that the demanding work schedule and resulting team cohesion worked for the favour of the group. “Everything was well planned [and] we knew exactly what we wanted and needed.”

So what can you expect from the new site? Pride insists that the Perth venue is ‘a breath of fresh air’. The thought process behind the ultimate design has resulted in a venue that is very much in tune with its surrounds and clientele. “It was obvious that the dark surfaces of Melbourne and the formality of Sydney would feel out of place here,” Pride explains.

Instead, the features that best represent Western Australia are on show for all abound. “The presence of the coastline and above all, the relaxed and casual atmosphere,” is what it’s all about Pride enthuses. With a dining room fitted out for 180 people the design generates both the excitement and the theatre of great precedents such as Le Dôme or La Coupole in Paris.

“Rockpool, Perth will be a success because the Bar & Grill concept is tried and tested, and judging by its popularity since opening in January, it has been well received by visitors and locals alike.”

Importantly there has been a strong focus on the bar offering, and Pride was the driving force behind both the concept and the execution of the space. Developing the notion of ‘tailor-made’ Pride also put into play the classic idea of ‘discovery’ and exclusivity (house rules, exclusive spirits and a story line). It is these finer touches that make Perth’s Rockpool Bar & Grill, both a destination spot and a unique beverage experience.

“Looking to history for our cues we recreated a drinks list as it might have existed in the period from the 1880s-1930s.” Pride considers this time to be the original ‘golden age’ of travel and cocktails – indeed the late 19th century is renowned for its decadence and the elaborate social behaviour that dominated the British Edwardian and French Belle Epoch period.

“The natural story arc gives us a foundation that has heritage, points of inspiration around the world, and tradition to play upon as well – It’s all about house made sodas (and cola), plus every juice for every cocktail is juiced to order.”

The Gastronomic

If you’re in for dinner the kitchen team is showing off stock like Blackmore’s full blood Wagyu beef, grass fed beef from Greenhams and Cape Grim, and grain fed beef from Rangers Valley and with an obvious link to the sea the seafood is garnered with as much reverence as the beef.

There’s a purpose-built fish filleting room and special tanks to house live shellfish. “The menu focus heavily on beef, of course, as well as the sublime produce that comes out of Western Australia’s oceans including marron, crabs, scallops and fish such as Red Emperor, dhufish and sardines,” says co-owner Neil Perry.

The Rockpool team draws on a lot of cool heads to bring it the success that it’s due. Perry overseas the kitchen and restaurant and has instilled a similar menu philosophy to the other Rockpool sites allowing guests, at the Perth, venture to experience the country’s best produce.

Pride says that “many of Perth’s leading business figures, visiting VIPs and celebrities, Burswood’s VIP guests and locals from Perth’s affluent suburbs and surrounds” are all turning out to see what’s on offer: “The design, location, superb Western Australian produce and fabulous staff set [us] apart from our other venues,” adds Pride.

The Liquid

“Our vision of ‘innovation through authenticity’ and a destination for cocktails and rare spirits is an extremely viable concept for both marketing purposes and revenue.” There is a strong focus on tradition being re-invented and re-presented, the classics – those never fail drinks that have qualities of timelessness and excellence.

The heritage of drinks is also a major point that the team promotes – the ‘how’ they have been placed throughout history – as well as the nostalgic sense of exoticism that harks back to a bygone era. “Our drinks menu chases excellence in all respects,” Pride states. “To drive home the classic cocktail bar feel concept, we have applied the concept of ‘curated’ to a drinks program of the finest traditional spirits and drinks structures.”

“We carry things others do not carry and we present things others do in ways that have not been seen before. By studying the classic recipes the bar team is laying for themselves a ‘foundation for employing excellence’ when it comes to the cocktails they serve. “This is a Bar & Grill restaurant – cocktails play an integral role in our philosophy,” says Pride and Bar Manager David Nyugen is there to back up this sentiment with an eye for detail and consistency.

The wine list is also a major feature and it currently tops out at just under 1000 offerings – many of which are from the home state. The focus on showcasing some of the best local drops has lead to a rapturous reception among Perth’s wine aficionados who are mighty pleased to see their Cabernets up against the best Bordeaux can offer.

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.