Neil Perry is closing Rockpool.
His flagship three-hat restaurant in Bridge Street, Sydney, will be transformed into a more casual space.
The closure comes less than 12 months after Rockpool, which Perry first opened in The Rocks in 1989, was named Gourmet Traveller’s restaurant of the year. Rockpool’s final service is on July 30. The good news is the restaurant will reopen nine days later as Eleven Bridge, with the same team, including executive chef Phil Wood.
The chef and his business partner Trish Richards said the decision had been difficult, but said having two restaurants with similar names within a few blocks of each other also caused problems.
“Our motivations to close Rockpool and open Eleven Bridge are varied but the most significant is that we have two Rockpool restaurants in close proximity, and we have at least 100 guests turn up to the wrong one every month,” Perry said.
“We’re moving away from that traditional concept of fine dining but maintaining all the elements that are crucial to great dining; excellent produce and service, and a contemporary style.”
It’s not the first time Perry has tinkered with his flagship restaurant, but this time, it looks like it’s for keeps. In 2007, he turned the old George Street site into the more casual Rockpool (fish), only to return his original restaurant to fine dining 18 months later, as he launched Rockpool Bar & Grill in Sydney.
Perry’s head chef at the time, Michael McEnearney, recently opened No. 1 Bent Street, just around the corner from Rockpool’s new Bridge Street site, which opened in 2013.
The Rockpool announcement comes a fortnight after news that another of the few remaining giants on fine dining in Sydney, Mark Best’s Marque, will also close.
Eleven Bridge, in the historic Burns Philp building, will open Monday, August 8, for lunch on weekdays and dinner Monday to Saturday.
Perry says he’s still working on the menu with Wood – debate about whether the white linen tablecloths will stay is ongoing for now – but says it will draw heavily on Rockpool’s history with “some of the old re-imagined and the new, with a few current favourites in the mix”.
“We are so incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved over the years,” Perry said. “However we’re really excited about the next chapter.”
Bookings for the old Rockpool can be made on 9252 1888.
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