It's not often I finish work, throw down my tools, loosen my tie and think to myself, "god I'd really kill for some lobster".
We're not a lobster-obsessed nation like the States, so it's a bit of a strange choice for an inner-city rooftop bar, particularly at $50 per half with a side of truffle fries. It feels a bit extravagant and incongruous to the casual bar vibe. The lobster itself, however, is super-fresh and handled beautifully, the firm flesh still moist and cut nicely by a clean citrus vinaigrette. With only lobster or burgers for food, the Rook is going for a an American diner kind of experience, though you wonder if they're cornering themselves out of the market in doing so.
The Rook is working in threes. There are three burgers, three lobsters and three desserts including a sundae, alcohol-spiked fruit and a deep-fried Mars Bar. And we're talking about deep-fried Mars Bars of the 'for real' variety.
I had to order it. A big part of me wishes I hadn't. Not the part that I would like to not get any bigger, but the part of me that likes things that are really, really tasty. This had a weird, gluggy texture and an overpowering alcoholic taste courtesy of the rum and raisin ice-cream. The burgers, however, are pretty ace. The saltiness of haloumi ($23) is balanced by spinach and soft, sweet peppers. Meanwhile, the sundae with Special K ice-cream, cherries, banana, peanut butter crunch and cream ($23) fills you with a bit of child-like enthusiasm and subsequent nostalgic buzz from a sugar high.
Half of this eclectic, recycled and colourful space is seating for eating and half is a bar for cocktail sipping, with drinks being mixed by Cristiano Beretta from the highly regarded Black Pearl in Melbourne. The cocktails are a mix of classics and regularly changing signatures. The Fire in the Pisco ($19) with elderflower and violet liqueur gives a summery, floral twist to a traditional pisco sour.
Being a sibling to the Keystone Group's The Winery and Gazebo, the wine list here is above cocktail bar standards, pulling some more interesting internationals from France, Spain, Italy and New Zealand with a nice clutch of them by the glass, like the Telmo Rodriguez Rioja from Spain ($13).
It's a fun spot, with a retractable roof in progress which will be a major win. Young professionals and casual drinkers mix it up at the Rook with some sweet tunes to boot. Perched up so high, it's a slightly smug experience peering eye-level into office workers' windows as they hunch over computers. Sitting here with a cocktail in hand, lobster tail in the other, you know they might just be staring back thinking, "man I'd really kill for that".
Photos by Madeline Milani.