Steak tartare. Caviar. A Wagyu hamburger created for purists. Rockpool Bar & Grill, Neil Perry’s west coast bureau at Crown Perth, is a standard-bearer for American steakhouse favourites. But this month, the Rockpool team is shifting focus locally and hosting a one-off six-course dinner celebrating native Australian ingredients.
A joint effort between Perry and Rockpool Perth’s head chef Dan Masters, the menu for the dinner thoughtfully introduces an Australian accent to Rockpool’s cosmopolitan menu: think tuna crudo sharpened with Davidson’s plum, a saltbush and Warrigal-greens pie served with bush-tomato harissa, and a finger lime and aniseed myrtle pavlova to finish.
Although this is the first time the Perth outpost will be focusing so closely on native ingredients, the Sydney mothership has been incorporating Australian flavours into its menu for the past five years. While Perry appreciates the possibilities of ingredients such as wattleseed, pepperberry and desert limes, the appeal of native ingredients goes beyond taste.
“I really believe that we need to acknowledge that we have 60,000 years of food and culture in this country, not 230 years as some would have us believe,” says Perry, who has also introduced pathways for Indigenous chefs within his group. Many of the Indigenous apprentices at Rockpool Bar & Grill Sydney are now working in the industry as qualified chefs. “Reconciliation through food is an awesome thing that the restaurant industry can push, and we want to be a part of that,” continues Perry. “If we really want to push our unique Australian identity, surely we have to include our first Australians.”
After the dinner, Perry will charge Masters with identifying ways to make native ingredients a permanent part of the restaurant’s menu.
Rockpool Bar & Grill Perth’s Native Australian Dinner is on Monday June 17. Tickets are $135 per person (including a drink on arrival) and can be booked here.