Rockwell and Sons
288 Smith St
Collingwood, VIC
(03) 8415 0700

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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).

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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