Rockwell and Sons
288 Smith St
(03) 8415 0700
Rockwell and Sons is a small, American-style diner at the Johnston end of Smith St, Collingwood. Owners Manu Potoi (no not THAT Manu, this one’s ex-Stokehouse and Attica) and Casey Wall (ex-Cutler & Co. and The Spotted Pig, NYC) have made themselves right at home amongst other grungy meets modern eateries along the strip such as Huxtaburger, Gorski and Jones, and Panama.
They have a small list of cocktails available, such as the refreshing Paloma – a mix of tequila, pink grapefruit, lime and soda (pictured above, $12.00) – or the Cobbler & Co, a take on the Spanish sangria (pictured below, $10.00).
The food is American-style comfort grub taken to a whole new level. The menu is split into sandwiches and sides, with a selection of share plates made available at dinner. While the share plates are a little on the small side, they are well executed – the duck wings in a spicy Asian-style marinade will have you licking you fingers, but may leave you questioning whether the ducks were underfed this season ($10.00).
Also from the share menu, the pork belly is beautifully presented, lathered in a rich jus and accompanied by mushrooms and frisee lettuce ($19.00). But again, with only 3 small pieces of pork on the plate you may be left to fight over the small wafers of crispy crackling.
The sandwiches at Rockwell aren’t made by your average cafeteria lady – think pulled lamb with charred eggplant, coleslaw and harissa aioli ($12.00). This is not the time to be ladylike. Enjoy every mouthful of that slow cooked lamb on that brioche bun as it runs down your arms.
And what American menu would be complete without a chilli dog ($10.00)? But not just any chilli dog, perhaps one of the most decked-out chilli dogs out there. An otherwise ordinary hot dog is made special with the accompaniment of spiced mince meat and spring onions. It’s a good treat, and goes down well with a few (micro-brew) beers on a Friday night.
To accompany your mains, there’s tasty treats like good ‘ol mac and cheese ($8.00). While here in the land of Aus, we may consider mac and cheese a meal on it’s own, but at Rockwell you are transported to the U.S. of A where it’s a side. But sadly it’s not the iconic dish it could be for Rockwell – there’s something a bit too sour going on, with heavy lashings of fresh parmesan giving the dish a sharp bite.
If you want fries with that, you got ‘em, hand cut with a side of malt vinegar aioli ($6.00). The malt vinegar aioli is a clever play on the salt and vinegar chip combination, which makes sense in theory, but leads to disappointment for those who love creamy aioli with their chips.
But the icing on the cake for Rockwell and Sons is their dessert. They like to keep things simple for themselves with only two options: tonight it’s chocolate olive oil cake ($12.00) or buttermilk panna cotta with buttermilk granita ($11.00).
The chocolate cake may not look like must more than a pile of dirt, but trust me when I say it’s the best dirt you’ll ever eat. The addition of macerated strawberries and dollops of cream and ganache make this one memorable.
The buttermilk panna cotta, while milder in flavour is also a winner, with poached peaches and granita transforming a simple panna cotta into something more. Perfectly wobbly, the contrast of the silky curd with the cool, crisp granita works well.
So if you find yourself out for a drink this weekend (or Friday-Monday lunchtime) and have a hankering for some snack-type grub, try Rockwell and Sons. It’s trailer-trash-Americana, polished and ready for the savvy Australian palate.