— bar rochford | chef ian poy and bar nick smith —
1st floor, 65 london circuit
We like rochford. It’s our kind of bar. It’s dusky. It’s intimate. It’s laid back. It’s equal parts dark soul, 60s modern, unpolished art deco, and a little bit gritty paris. Kinda classic, in a manly way. It’s the kind of place don draper and gatsby would go at the end of a tinder date to chainsmoke cigarettes and knock a few back before inspecting each other’s downstairs goatees.
Only it lacks the pretention of any of that. It isnt themed or stuffy, or posey, or hipstery or too after-workey. It’s pared back but stylish, and not trying too hard. If you lived here you’d definitely have messy hair, tatts and be into super expensive speakers and distressed concrete.
Owner and barman nick is certainly into stuff. He likes soul on vinyl, old photos, warm woods, battered leather. And mixing drinks. Boy, this guy can do a new take on a classic. There are some pretty stylish combinations, like the jack rose (calvados, lime juice, homemade pomegranate grenadine) or the ascerbic sharp darts (gin, apple juice, spice syrup, absinthe. Incidentally, if you were going to throw a drink over someone, this would be it. It’s witty and sharp and mean as hell. And not unlike a punch in the face with a fistful of licorice allsorts). Nick has also pulled together a wine list with a solid mix of old world and new, focusing – finally! – on natural and biodynamic wines. In particular, he wants to showcase up and coming australian producers who experiment with alternative and old school wine making processes.
So it’s a grown up bar. The kind of place you go if you like to drink but not get drunk. They serve shots but not shooters. You want an aged whiskey or a niche distillery vermouth? rochford is your place. You want a cocksucking cowboy? lucky you, mooseheads is just around the corner.
Yep, the drinks are good. And so is the food.
Chef ian poy, his first time at the helm, is spreading his wings. In a tiny, tiny kitchen. The kid’s got serious pedigree, if you’re into that kind thing, and counts noma, sixpenny, nomad, relae and eightysix on his resume. In keeping with rochford’s general vibe of artful restraint, ian’s regularly changing menu is about simple dishes, condensing his considerable experience into a short selection of bar snacks, seasonal hits and weekly specials. Think sharing plates, local produce, sustainability, and minimal fuss. New bistronomy has come to canberra. In fact there’s not much about rochford that would be out of place in paris’ backstreet scene in the 10eme or 11eme.
This is one of our favourites from ian’s opening menu – broccolini with burnt orange vinaigrette , chilli and almonds. It’s sure to be a hit amongst your weird vegetarian friends or that super annoying paleotard who changes everyone’s dinner plans when they invite themselves over. It’s a reflection of ian’s focus on fresh and seasonal produce that three of the six plates on the menu are vegetables. As he says, “For me [vegetables] define the season. They’re something to be celebrated – and the possibilities are pretty much endless.”
1 bunch broccolini
apple cider vinegar
extra virgin olive oil
small handful almonds
Cut any tough woody ends from the base of the broccolini stems. Blanch for 1 minute in salted boiling water and immediately plunge into a bowl of iced water. Set aside until ready to serve.
Heat a bbq or griddle pan until smoking hot. Halve the orange and grill flesh side down until charred. Remove from the grill and juice. You should get about 70ml. Add the vinegar and whisk thoroughly. Slowly add the olive oil, continuing to whisk to emulsify the dressing. The dressing will keep in a jar in the fridge for several days. Let the dressing come to room temperature before using to allow the oil to melt. Give the dressing a vigorous shake to re-emulsify as the juice and oil will have separated.
Toast the almonds in a hot oven or in a pan on the stove until fragrant and set aside to cool. Deseed the chilli and remove the membrane before slicing into thin half moons.
When you are ready to serve, char the broccolini on the bbq or griddle pan for a few minutes. Place the broccolini in a bowl and dress with the burnt orange vinaigrette. Add a small drizzle of olive oil, the almonds and the chilli and a pinch of sea salt. Make sure everything is well combined before serving.