Rocks Urban Grill + Bar
Our team goes undercover to suss out the latest and most talked about restaurants in town.
From the menu to the décor, Rocks Urban Grill + Bar looks precisely the same as previous, before it closed mysteriously for six months between July 2015 to January 2016.
Well – almost the same. The trees outside the building have grown since my last visit couple years back, now partially obscuring the views of the Marina Bay area. The beef maki on a sizzling hot stone is no longer served, but Aussie tenderloin beef tartare ($27) is thankfully as tempting as ever. The liberal serve is topped with a whole chicken egg yolk, not a flimsy quail egg that you might get elsewhere, and accompanied by the usual capers, shallots, and mustard. The combination is well honed and calibrated, as expected from this joint venture between ex-San Marco’s Roxan Villareal and the Emmanuel Stroobant Group.
Walking into Rocks is like running into an old, welcoming friend. Its location in a residential building and proximity to Marina Bay Financial Centre offices means that it doubles up as an executive venue as well as posh neighbourhood diner. Casual diners will be attracted by the 12-inch wood fired pizzas at $28, for dine-in and delivery within the vicinity, while corporate suits won’t blink at the $44 executive set lunches, served elegantly on white linen.
The weekly changing three-course lunch sets offer diners plenty of variety, such as the Chinese-inspired dishes we encountered on Lunar New Year week. Poached chicken breast in Asian dressing, braised pork belly in a silky sauce with baby bok choy over mashed potato, and banana cake with butterscotch ginger ice cream made for interesting detours from the usual modern European menu. But the focus for this diner is firmly on its meats. On a separate dinner review, we tucked into 150-day grain-fed Australian ribeye ($49) which weighed in at a generous 300g. The pre-sliced steak was marbled and juicy, with satisfying scorch marks and served with as many sauces as we wanted – we opted for red wine, mushroom and Béarnaise.
We wish we could have fitted in a juicy sounding Rocks cheeseburger ($42) as well, but instead went with the recommended crusted black cod ($42) from the seafood menu, which lacked a bit of verve; the fish could have been fresher and the texture of the breadcrumb crust more crisp. A side of sautéed potatoes, onions and bacon ($11) also gave the same perfunctory feel, as did a lukewarm Limestone pizza with mozzarella, smoked bacon, mushroom and poached egg. What perked up our meal was the small but smart wine list, attractively priced, accompanied by knowledgeable recommendations from the waiter. Service is taken seriously here, with more experienced waitstaff coaching the younger ones carefully.
Don’t expect any surprises with dessert—the menu offers up tried-and-true classics such as pavlova with berries compote and crème brûlée with fruits and sugar cane. As with many long-term relationships, complacency may have started to settle in, but Rocks still shows promise of its culinary roots if you dig deep enough. #02-01/02 The Sail @ Marina Bay, 2 Marina Boulevard. Tel: 6438 4404
Average dinner bill for two, with drinks: $200
Must-tries: Steak tartare, 150-day grain fed Australian ribeye
Book a table at Rocks Urban Grill + Bar with Chope.