Some thirty years ago when I first came to Sydney, I remember restaurant food within pubs to be pretty mediocre.
By mediocre, I mean sausage rolls pre-bought from supermarkets and perhaps the obligatory beef patty flipped in-house, sandwiched between two halve buns which were also pre-bought from supermarkets. Being students, my mates and I used to wash these things down with VB middies that cost all of fifty cents each.
How things have changed since.
Sarita’s Rocksia Hotel, Arncliffe
Sweaty Betty is one of Sydney’s leading PR outfits that counts, among many others, Rose Bay’s Catalina, Hunters Hill Hotel, Criniti’s Woolloomooloo and The Clovelly Hotel in its stable of hospitality clientele.
And with a kind invitation, Mysaucepan and I are here to check out Executive Chef Joel Gottlieb‘s new menu.
Boasting over 28 years of experience in the industry, Joel’s career has seen him work in restaurants, hotels and catering businesses in both Australia and the UK.
Originally hailing from London, Joel has worked in a number of distinguished venues including Cafe Pacifico and Menzies Hotel among many others.
It’s a lazy Sunday and Mysaucepan prefers to start her day with a cocktail.
For me, an icy cold beer never fails to spell the relaxed sense of the weekend.
Tempura battered zucchini flowers, caramelized walnuts
It’s the beginning of spring after all and tempura battered zucchini flowers are crisp and hot from the fryer.
It’s a classic combo with ripened sweet figs, crunchy walnuts and melting ricotta with each bite.
King prawns, roasted chilli, saffron puree
Smoky grilled king prawns are sweet and buttery on its own. Laced with creamy saffron puree, these bad boys are beckoning a pre-summer check on my BBQ.
Spicy Italian sausage, vine tomato, fontina, mozzarella and spinach
This spicy Italian sausage is a classic take on pizza though not spicy enough for me even after a few generous sprinkling of chilli and freshly cracked black pepper.
The crust is thin and crisp but mozzarella is a little tentative. More gooey cheese strings with each slice would make this a more gutsy Italian number.
Slow-cooked beef short rib and mash
Slow-cooked beef and mash is great in winter.
Hefty chunks of beef short ribs sit on a generous pile of potato mash. Too generous perhaps even though it’s wonderfully rich and creamy. A few roasted root vegetables such as dutch carrots or parsnip would complement the chunks of sweet potato. It’s a shame some pieces of beef are stringy dry and tough from the open roast though pieces that sat under gravy are succulent and tender.
Julienned shallots is a classic garnish for Chinese, Indonesian and Thai cuisine but is totally out of place on a Western-style slow-cooked dish. Taste wise, it is jarring and does little justice to the beef. A few simple sprigs of continental parsley, chervil or even fresh thyme would add a bold yet complementary herb dimension.
Our feedback on the beef was well received by our friendly waitress who sends out a dessert of chocolate mousse with raspberry.
Sarita’s menu is on the right track with its casual pub fare though it needs to be tighter with classic pub favourites that resonate with pub goers during big game events.
Yellow fin tuna carpaccio and crab meat salad are well-meaning options which would do better at trendy water front precincts around the city.
Because when I think of coming south to Rocksia Hotel next to busy Princes Highway, I am not thinking seafood. I am after a hearty and robust piece of rib eye with charred smoky aromas of the grill. I want BBQ lamb ribs with Jamie Oliver’s chimichurri sauce or a good hearty burger a la Rockpool’s gourmet slider but without the price tag. For the ladies, crisp beer battered fish and chips would go well with their cocktails and champagne.
And these are notable absentees on the menu.
ChopinandMysaucepan dined courtesy of Sweaty Betty PR and Sarita’s Rocksia Hotel. Prices are included for readers’ information. All views and opinions on this blog post are our own.
Sarita’s Rocksia Hotel
299 Princes Highway, Arncliffe
Tel: +61 2 9567 8242
Opening hours: Monday & Tuesday 5pm to late, Wednesday & Thursday 12pm – 3pm, 5pm to late, Friday & Saturday 12pm to late, Sunday 12pm to 10pm.