9 | 3.5 | 1.5 | 3
- My favourite restaurant in Australia
- Approachable food cooked with the skill, thought and care
- Every dish on the menu is excellent
- It’s not in Sydney
- Maine-Style Tiger Prawn Roll, Kewpie Tartare, Compressed Celery
- Fried Chicken
- Carolina-Style Coleslaw
- Tater Tots, Togarashi, Kombu Mayo
TL;DR – A skillfully and thoughtfully cooked menu, that plays like an all-time greatest hits album, makes Rockwell and Sons my favourite restaurant in Australia.
Australia is one of the greatest food nations in the world.
Yes, we may not have any Michelin stars (through no fault of our own), but we have world-renowned restaurants such as Attica, Brae and Quay (ranked #33, #65 and #98 in the world respectively). The recent pop-ups by Noma and Fat Duck serve further to reinforce this point.
You would think, in such a great food nation, that my favourite restaurant in Australia would be amongst this highly acclaimed list, known and revered by foodies across the globe.
But it’s not.
My favourite restaurant in Australia comes from the humble (or hipster) suburb of Collingwood; the diner meets bar that is Rockwell and Sons.
“Do you even foodie?” I hear, as reactions range from disappointment to confusion. In a nation populated by restaurants decorated in accolades, how does a restaurant that serves burgers and fried chicken become your favourite?
Maybe it’s the drop dead delicious menu with every dish executed to near perfection. Maybe it’s the approachable vibe that bridges the gap between a pub meal and fine dining. Maybe it’s the people; people such as Chef Casey Wall (Cutler & Co. and The Spotted Pig, NYC) and Manu Potoi (Stokehouse and Attica).
The cool kids. Chef Casey Wall (flexing), Manu Potoi (contemplating).
Photo credit – Rockwell and Sons
Maybe it’s for all these reasons, the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. Whatever the reason may be, Rockwells and Sons is the restaurant that stopped me from using “one of” when listing my favourite restaurants. It is my favourite restaurant in Australia.
Being my favourite restaurant in Australia, I’ve recommended Rockwell and Sons to virtually everyone I know and it’s always become their favourite. Interestingly enough though, the reason it is their favourite varies. Whether it’s the Prawn Roll, Fried Chicken, Burgers, Coleslaw, Tater Tots, you name it, the consistent quality throughout Rockwell’s menu always leaves a mark as their favourite.
I think that’s more worthy than any number of Michelin Stars, awards or accolades – it’s worthy of being anyone’s favourite restaurant in Australia.
One of the reasons why Rockwell and Sons is my favourite restaurant in Australia is because every dish on the menu tastes great. Here are some of my favourites, starting with a very special dish.
Maine-Style Tiger Prawn Roll, Kewpie Tartare, Compressed Celery – $13 (9.5/10)
Photo credit – @princess_porky
Melbourne has a lot of great food. So it comes with a lot of weight when I say this.
This is my favourite dish in Melbourne. Everything about this Prawn Roll is just beautiful. The prawns, the flavours, the balance.
In my world, prawns rank near the bottom in the crustacean world, so I never would have thought I would like a prawn dish more than a crab or lobster dish. The prawns are brined before being steamed, ensuring that they keep the perfect texture and their flavours don’t get diluted. This means the crustacean sweetness is approaching crab level. Because prawns are a cheaper ingredient, it means they don’t need to be stingy, a problem that commonly plagues lobster and crab rolls (looking at you Waterman’s Lobster Co.).
And the craziest thing is that celery is my most hated food in the world. But somehow Rockwell and Sons has made me love it in this roll. I can think of no higher praise than that.
Chicken Crackling – $8 (8/10)
Somewhat innocuous yet absolutely delicious. Too often, Chicken Crackling is oily or bland. These are neither, the onion relish on top keeping the crackling in check when it threatens to become too heavy.
I would still prefer Pork Crackling though.
Double Patty Smash Burger, Kraft, Special Sauce, Seeded Bun – $12 (8/10)
Photo credit – @princess_porky
The Double Patty Smash Burger, the dish that Rockwell and Sons is perhaps best known for. Thought it was never meant to be the main drawcard, it has been crowned as one of Melbourne’s best burgers.
The Double Patty Smash Burger consists of a savoury (not sweet) brioche bun from Brasserie Bread, smashed patties (the only way you should have your burgers), classic Kraft cheese and special sauce.
The patty is a combination of grass-fed brisket, chuck and a few other cuts (Wall says wagyu is too soft and not suited to burgers). The special sauce is mix of 3 different mayonnaises (80 percent house made, 20 percent kewpie) with a savory tomato reduction, herbs, onion, spices, house made pickles”.
The absence of tomato is deliberate. Chef Wall says, “I wanted a burger I could serve all year round so how can I put a tomato on it when it’s not in season? It’s about consistency and quality. Even though it’s just a burger, you still have to treat it with the same respect you would any dish you create.”
That quote sums up why Rockwell and Sons is so great. Even though it’s “just a burger”, Chef Wall approaches like a restaurant dish, trying to make the best version of what it can be.
Fried Chicken – $65/bird w 5 sides (9.25/10)
You know how, no matter how many fancy restaurant fried chickens you try, nothing ever comes close to KFC? And how you wish someone would make fried chicken that tastes as good as KFC, without the fried chicken hangover.
Well your prayers have been answered, because this is the best way to describe Rockwell and Sons Fried Chicken. KFC on steroids.
A diner that sat opposite us said that the fried chicken here was better than in his hometown of South Carolina. That’s a pretty epic endorsement.
Fried Chicken is served on Wednesdays only, and consists of one whole fried chicken with five sides selected by the chef, for $65. I recommend one chicken per 2-4 guests and must be prepaid on their website as the chicken is brined for two days and finished with Myrtleford Butter Factory buttermilk.
If you can’t make it there on Wednesdays…
Fried Chicken Sandwich, Buttermilk Dressing, Iceberg, Hot Sauce – $13 (8/10)
Photo credit – @princess_porky
Their Fried Chicken Sandwich is the next best thing. A while it is a good burger, I would definitely recommend dedicating the calories to the real deal.
Tater Tots, Togarashi, Kombu Mayo – $7 (8.75/10)
The best Tater Tots I’ve ever had. Crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside. The way should be. Basically impossible to stop and just one.
So fellow foodies, what’s your favourite restaurant?