Ain’t two ways about it, Rockingham is a hell of a long drive from home, probably just under an hour from our place. So, when GG and I headed Rocko-ward for a catch up lunch with his parents I had high hopes that the place we had chosen would warrant the slightly longer drive. I’d heard of Rustico a few times over the years but more recently a lovely girl I work with, who happens to live in the deep south also mentioned how fond she was of this restaurant. It was officially decided that we had to get ourselves there.
We arrived a touch after 12 on Saturday and only a handful of tables were occupied at that stage. It was probably bigger in size than I had expected and I could appreciate that on a sunny day the seats by the window with the sunshine streaming in would be prime real estate. We checked out the menu and it had helpfully been sectioned into from the land, from the sea and from the garden, but there was also a choice of $58 per person for their six course tapas menu. For four people it meant each of the six courses had two of their signature dishes and I just loved that I didn’t have to choose and we left it to the chefs.
It did not take long for the good times to start and up first was a Chicken liver pate, port jelly, lavosh and croutons and Duck, pork and pistachio terrine. Now I’m not the hugest pate eater as I’ve just never grown much of an appreciation for that strong liver flavour. I gave this one a go though and I’ll admit that with a generous smush of the port wine jelly it wasn’t half bad and pate fans around the table gave it two thumbs up. You also could not fault the serving size. I would say though of the first two dishes I preferred the terrine and again terrine isn’t one of my go to dishes, but I liked the meaty pork and duck flavours along with the crunch and pop of colour from the green pistachios. It was a solid intro and I’ll admit the serving sizes had me wondering if we’d get through six courses, but the challenge was on and we were in no hurry.
Following next was one of the dishes my good friend Lady K had told me all about – Goats cheese, orange blossom honey. I mean come on! The menu description alone has you reaching eagerly for the fork. It had the heat from the crispy outer coating of the deep fried cheese, then the decadent oozy and creamy goats cheese centre with just a hint of salt, which was the perfect contrast to the sweet honey. It was bliss. If you are a cheese fan then this is a delicious and totally indulgent way to eat cheese. Now along with this taste sensation also came some Chickpea Battered Prawns, Guacamole, Aioli. These dishes were both big hits. I would have happily not shared these two and called it quits here but there were many things still to try, so bring it on!
Up next was a bit of a seafood salute with Havana Rum and Beetroot Cured Salmon, fabulous in all is delicateness and also a Beef carpaccio, olive dust, horseradish and mustard shallot. I love carpaccio, done right it is very easy eating. Just melts in your mouth and this was a delight.
We got some pork on our fork next with Free range pork belly, apple puree, sticky pedro ximinez. Pork belly is a real crowd pleaser and everyone eagerly got stuck into their allocated chunky cube with crispy crackle top. Delicious and the sweet pedro glaze worked a treat. Accompanying this was a Jamon Selection – serrano, iberico, sourdough. I really enjoy cured meats and it was interesting getting to compare and contrast serrano against iberico.
And the good times kept coming with four perfect little Amelia Park Lamb Truffles, pea and mint puree, which added a real splash of green to the plate and the crispy lamb was deliciously tender and flavoursome. Another meat dish was the Petit Mignons, beef fillet wrapped in bacon, sweet potato, a dainty beef medallion wrapped in bacon with a creamy pepper sauce on top. It was really tasty and a manageable size which was pleasing this far into our Rustico dining adventure.
There’s always room for dessert and that’s a good thing because we opted to share a cheese platter and also one of the dessert tasting plates. The dessert tasting plate was quite the planky vision with Toblerone cheesecake with a dramatic chocolate shard atop, a dainty pot of chocolate with a pesto ximinez infusion, a slice of lemon tart (my favourite) and finally an espresso panna cotta. I loved not having to choose and getting to try it all….. yes I may have been humming the Queen song ‘I Want It All’ as I wrote that 🙂
We had enjoyed ourselves. Had a few wines and a few cups of tea and it was an entirely leisurely weekend lunch. I found the menu to be very tasty and also very well priced for the amount of food that each of the party of four got to enjoy. Service had been very friendly and attentive and while I know that for many Rockingham is a bit of a drive, it’s definitely a place to keep in mind if you are planning on paying a visit to the south. Keep in mind that it is a popular spot with those local to the area so worthwhile making a booking.