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Image courtesy Rockpool

It’s after 11:30 pm and I haven’t eaten. In Spain, this is normal. In Melbourne, however, options dwindle quickly.  As fortune has it, Partner and I are at Crown Casino. As fortune also has it, we have both been freshly eliminated from a seven hour poker tournament and we need a feed. A franchise burger ain’t going to cut it.

We’re not in a gambling mood; but we have to play dinner lotto nonetheless.

There are plenty of dining options at Crown, more than 40 eateries in fact, but few of them offer a full menu close to midnight.

After what seemed like a 10 km trek from the poker room we ambled into Rockpool Bar & Grill, arriving at the maître d‘s desk looking faint and dishevelled. Were they still serving dinner?

No.

If we promised to order just steak and not dawdle over our food, were they still serving dinner?

Yes.

I don’t normally beg, but it turned out to be my first winning move of the day. I’m not sure whether it was our desperation or our disappointment that got us over the line into the dining room. Whatever the case, seconds later we were seated and given time and space to review the menu.

Not that we needed much time. We were here for the celebrated steak, so it was a matter of choosing between the different cuts and varying qualities. The menu delineates between the all lower-case ‘david blackmore full blood wagyu’ (the priciest), ‘cape grim dry aged 36 month old grass fed’ (I ordered the T-bone, medium rare), and ‘rangers valley dry aged 300 day grain fed’ (partner ordered the fillet, rare). Most of the steaks here cost around $50, with prime cuts of the wagyu creeping above the $100 mark.

There are plenty of other enticing looking options on the menu, like steamed live Tasmanian clams with Joselito Iberico ham, chili, tomato and chickpeas, but here the wood fire grill is King, with quail, pork sausages, lamb, chicken and seafood all getting a lick of it’s complex charry goodness.

It’s my second visit, so I have a vague idea of what to expect. In fact, I’m not sure if my first visit actually counts because I was little bit too high on beer and poker to notice anything but the perfect steak and substandard “mac-and-cheese”. The home-style dish was grainy; a mac-and-cheese no-no.

It’s late and I want a fat-and-carb side dish so I’m tempted to order it again.  But, I figure if my drunk brain was critical, my sober one would be even more unimpressed.

We order a modestly priced half bottle of 2005 Château Bernadotte Haut Médoc from an encyclopaedic, wonderful, steak-friendly list. I can barely make out its brick red meniscus. It’s dark in here, but it is almost midnight. I’m a bit nervous about finding my way to the bathroom and back again without running into something or getting lost.

The steak-friendly sides like potato puree and creamed silverbeet hover at around the $10 mark, likewise the salads. We opt for the chopped cos calad and tomato, olive, and basil salad. They’re good. The steak is perfect. The wine is invisible but wonderful.  The service was efficiently cheerful. I wished we’d been here earlier so we could dawdle. Here, the atmosphere is of the lingering kind.

Rockpool Bar & Grill

Crown Casino Complex

8 Whiteman St, Southbank
Ph: 8648 1900

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