We'd actually been to Rochford before during my mum and sister's first visit back in 2011 and I remember enjoying it then but we'd never had the chance to return so we were looking forward to this.
It was a typical Melbourne day with moments of heavy rain and grey skies and then a brief spell of sunshine and brightness so watching the view change upon the whim of Mother Nature from our table was also a treat.
Service was friendly and attentive from the moment we arrived. What I really like about Rochford is that there's lots to occupy the mind from the little gift shop area with attractive knick knacks to the view out of the floor to ceiling windows and also the glowing embers of the fireplace.
Warm bread is served with creamy mustard better preparing the tummy for a lunchtime feast.
There were 4 entrees to choose from and I went with the simply named Crab Toast and Steve had the pumpkin gnocchi with a sage creme fraiche sauce.
Both were plated attractively; in a generous and rustic way. The crab toast consisted of two pieces heaped high with snowy white crab and mayonnaise. The finely diced tomato and capers added a lovely salty and zinginess to it cutting through the rich mayonnaise and sweet crab. The thin slice of toast was crunchy and had some rye notes running through it adding texture and a nother hint of flavour.
Steve's pumpkin gnocchi looked pretty hefty. The gnocchi looked like dumplings and not the bite sized pillows we were expecting. Probably more mattress like than pillow! The sourness of the creme fraiche cut through the sweetness of the pumpkin. Like the crab toast, flavours were simple and homely. I thought some bacon or salty ham like prosiutto would have elevated this dish but also accepted the need for it it be vegetarian friendly too.
Main course options consisted of roast chicken, roast pork, beef Wellington, monkfish or something vegetarian so all tastes are covered and the familiar and comforting Sunday roast feel is definitely there.
Steve decided to go with the Wagyu Wellington described as marble score 8+ Wagyu, cauliflower purée, truffle & Rochford Pinot Noir jus. And I went with Suckling Pig with colcannon, crackling & a Somersby cider sauce.
The generosity was overwhelming when our plates arrived, There were two thick slices of Beef Wellington probably double what is the norm and on my plate there was a thick piece of pork fillet as well as a square of belly pork not to mention a heap of colcannon and sheets of crackling! And looking around, this generosity and abundance of food applied to everyone.
In a similar vein to the entrees, flavours were uncomplicated and kept traditional and homely. The beef in the wellington was tender and well flavoured and kept pink. The pastry was golden on the outside but pretty white and stodgy on the inside. Steve said it didn't taste undercooked but probably a bit thick.
The platter of pork provided variety with the two different cuts and the crackling. I found the fat on the belly pork to be a bit too gelatinous and jelly like for my liking and although the top layer looked caramelised, texture wise it didn't have the crunch to make the fat more appealing. The meat underneath was tasty and juicy thoough - probably kept that way because of the thick layer of fat on top! The sauce was a nice addition and my personal tastes were thankful there was no mustard as is common. I think some actual apple wedges cooked down would have added some additional sweetness that I would have liked. Having said that, the glass of pinot noir I was enjoying actually provided a touch of sweetness so I was still pretty satisfied. Overall though it was comforting and again reminiscent of home.
They looked appealing, all golden and heaped high but were probably the disappointment of the meal as they were very batter heavy to the extent that I couldn't taste the onion and the batter was actually soggy and more greasy pancake like than crispy and light.
Dessert was presented in more refined way than our previous dishes which although still attractive was definitely more about warmth and generosity than elegance and prettiness.
The brownie was crumbled and there were berries and nuts thrown in. The brownie itself looked chocolatey but wasn't overly so which was perfect for me as I don't like over cocoa'd desserts. I loved the lightness of the fudgy brownie and the natural flavour of the strawberry sorbet. The macaron was more sugary but that was fine because the brownie wasn't too sweet. It was a lovely ending to our relaxing meal.
Head Chef, Ciaran Butler came out to see us and this gave us the opportunity to thank him for his warm hospitality. Just like his food, he is generous and warm hearted and it was a pleasure to be guests at Rochford.