It’s been more than six years since The Rook opened on the seventh floor of a nondescript office building in the CBD. In that time the gin bar has attracted a bevy of fans for its lobster roll, which is served alongside a range of gourmet burgers. But for executive chef Daniel Corbett, it was time for an update.
“You can now come in for a couple of light snacks with your friends or some main courses like a normal restaurant. You couldn’t do that before,” he says. “When you came in you’d have a burger and a cocktail and you’d feel lethargic, which isn’t what we wanted.”
While the lobster roll still features, it’s had a makeover. When it was originally launched it was made like they do it in Maine (dressed in mayonnaise with a light potato, pea and celery salad), then it got the Connecticut treatment (with brown-butter vinaigrette, charred corn and bacon) followed by Thai and Indian-spiced versions. Now it’s a snack-sized slider with a Japanese spin. The lobster is first poached in butter, then dressed with yuzu mayo, then topped with iceberg lettuce for crunch.
The burger menu has also been toned down from six options to two: a cheeseburger and a fried chicken burger. Corbett says the new menu reflects what The Rook is about in 2019. “[It’s] moved away from being a bit New York to being a bit more LA,” he says.
Fruits, pickles, aromatics and sourness feature more prominently on the menu, and there are lots of Asian influences. Hiramasa kingfish is dressed in gin and mandarin sauce, a whole deep-fried snapper comes with mango and herbs, and mussels are brought to the table in a lemongrass and coconut broth with chilli oil. And then there’s the burrata, which has none of those characteristics, but is worth mentioning because it’s deep-fried and served with confit heirloom tomatoes and basil.
The grungy and shabby-chic interior has also gone. A Picasso-like abstract feature wall has replaced the bold graffiti mural, and there’s now hanging florals and foliage, as well as dusty pink and burgundy cushions to match the deep-tan leather upholstery.
To celebrate the refurb, The Rook has launched Hot Gin Roof in collaboration with Sipsmith Gin. Until the end of August, you can grab hot gin cocktails such as the Cuppa Joe (sloe gin, sweet vermouth, coffee and raspberry cream) in vintage tea crockery.
Plans are also underway to open The Rook on Saturdays for brunch.
Level 7, 56-58 York Street, Sydney
(02) 8322 2008
Tue to Fri 12pm–12m