Monday, January 02, 2006

Review: Wild Rocket

Wild Rocket is a new restaurant (slightly over three months now) that has enjoyed a fair amount of publicity in food blogs and the food section of the local papers. Judging from the number of patrons, owner-chef Willin Low is certainly right when he says it "pays to be a media whore".

Wild Rocket

Wild Rocket is tucked away in Hangout Hotel at Mount Emily, possibly one of the most remote areas to start a restaurant, but there were a considerable number of intrepid diners, including ourselves, for whom the distance and location were no problem.


The restaurant boasts one of the nicest interiors I've seen in a while, not stark and modernist, nor stodgy and conformist. The effect of the layout and lighting was muted at dinner time, but pleasurable nonetheless, so I imagine it would look fantastic at lunch time.

Mushroom Soup

I decided to go for the mushroom soup ($8) as an appetiser, and regretted that decision as soon as the soup arrived. I would like to give the restaurant the benefit of the doubt and say that there's no way they would use MSG in their soup, but I can think of no other explanation for the incredible saltiness and throat-itching spiciness of their soup, totally overpowering any mushroom flavour that might have been present. Perhaps the stock they were using was a high-sodium variety. Whatever the reason, the soup was quite unpleasant (2/5).

[Ed: See this post for another review and Chef Willin Low's emphatic refutation of any suggestion that MSG was used in the soup.]

Tuna Salad

My sister changed her order from a mushroom soup to a tuna salad, which was apparently as good as it looked. Sometimes it pays to be adventurous.

Braised Veal Cheek Penne

Thankfully, my main course of Braised Veal Cheek Penne with Green Peppercorns ($17.50) really shone through (4/5), restoring my pleasant dining experience. The veal cheek was braised to disintegration, and the rich, full-bodied sauce blended well with the chunky penne to produce a main course both tasty and filling.

Mango Crumble

Dessert was a shared Mango Crumble ($10) served with vanilla ice cream, which was an interesting concoction (3/5), but I thought wasn't quite complex enough in its tastes, as both the mango and vanilla were sweet. Texturally, though, there was a nice contrast between the rich smoothness of the mango and the coarseness of the crumble.

Service was earnest enough, with us rarely wanting for a waiter, and received a boost when Willin emerged from the kitchen to have a chat with us. For a three month old restaurant, Wild Rocket seems to be doing pretty well for itself.

Wild Rocket (Modern)
Hangout Hotel
10A Upper Wilkie Road
Tel: 6339 9448
Location: 2/5
Ambience: 4/5
Service: 3.5/5
Food: 3/5
Overall: Wild Rocket's still finding its feet, but is a good option for a quiet dinner at refreshing new eatery.

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