‘All Great Fish Need a Great Chef’ Rocpool Restaurant Inverness

With its large windowed frontage commanding the corner of Ness Walk, a stone’s throw from the tree-lined River Ness, Rocpool’s enviable location makes it hard to miss. Since establishing in 2002 Rocpool has built up a reputation of wonderful food served in a friendly and relaxed environment, growing a fantastic base of loyal customers in Inverness. Restaurant-owner Steven explains that the success of Rocpool comes down to a hard-working and motivated team.

Originally Steven was the head chef of Rocpool, but as the restaurant developed the team also expanded. Now the kitchen is run by head chef George, who works with Steven to design menus and create new dishes. Rocpool is very much a team effort, with every member of staff working towards a shared vision of what Rocpool is and what it aims to be.

Steven started his career as a waiter, a job that only lasted three nights! However, it was through this short-lived role that Steven, almost by accident, was directed down the path of cooking. One night the kitchen porter didn’t turn up, Steven was drafted in as his replacement and it was here that he had his first experience of working in the kitchen. He quickly realised this was the environment for him and this sparked his interest in creating food, not just serving it:

‘If I hadn’t been sent through to the kitchen that night I would probably never have become a head chef. So the fact is, because I kept forgetting in the first few days where the parmesan cheese was to go on the carbonara, that was actually the making of me.’

Rocpool’s West Coast Langoustines

Team Effort

Steven and George now work together to create Rocpool’s menu – utilizing fresh, local ingredients to deliver new, exciting dishes. Steven explains,
‘In my opinion George and I work well together because we balance each other out when we create dishes. If it wasn’t that way it wouldn’t be my food, wouldn’t be my restaurant. I still stand here owning the business, serving the food knowing that it is a collaboration between myself and George, I think that really shines out and makes Rocpool, Rocpool’.
Maintaining this ethos ensures Rocpool is always serving food which is loved by locals and visitors alike.

……………………………………………………………………………..

What has been the hardest thing about running a restaurant?

Steven-
‘Starting the restaurant- It’s a huge investment before you even get one penny in the door. You have to be pretty sure that when someone comes into your restaurant that they will want to come back, or that there is even a market to come through the door in the first place.

Rocpool’s Fresh Lobster, bursting with colour

Steven-
‘The reality is you’ve got to get a balance between customer demand and creating a product which excites you.’

……………………………………………………………………………..
What did you enjoy most about being a chef?

Steven-
‘When I was a head chef I enjoyed the fact that I was able to create something and play with it. Looking at the raw ingredients, then creating a dish, making it look exciting. So because of that I enjoy creating a dish, it brings me back to basics and to what I was originally. I liaise with George and together we make it happen.’
When Steven was the head chef he enjoyed going out into the restaurant to speak to his customers. During moments like this he could really stand back and think, ‘these people are all happy and I’m a part of that.’ Now that Steven is running his own restaurant, the modern reality is that it is fantastic seeing a full house, ‘with everybody happy and relaxed and enjoying themselves.’

……………………………………………………………………………..

Seafood Bucket List

You must eat here…

Steven
‘I just spent two weeks on holiday last summer down in Cornwall. My dream place was Nathan Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen in Port Isaac. Fish Kitchen is Outlaw’s tapas place; it’s only got 7 or 8 tables. It was exactly what seafood should be. It’s a run-down old shack-like building that’s about 400 years old. Only 5 people work here- 2 waiters, a kitchen porter and 2 chefs that work in a kitchen that is the size of a postage stamp. Every flavour worked there. It was natural and the product is exactly what you want it to be.’

Nathan Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen (Steven’s photo)

‘The building is down by the water, right next to the lifeguard building, probably the most iconic building in Port Isaac. The fishing boats all land nearby and you are eating there, right beside them. Good food in a relaxed environment, Fish Kitchen really summed that all up and for me that is exactly what food is about.’

Lobster Roll, BINTWO wine bar, Padstow

‘Lobster roll in a brioche bun, how sexy is that?! Served in a wee takeaway box in a wine bar. I loved Cornwall, they really embrace their seafood.’ George- ‘There are great places to eat in Edinburgh. The Kitchin and Ondine both serve really good seafood.’

You must try this…

Steven
‘Scallops – need to be good quality. Often served with a bit of meat, it’s a fishy dish that’s easy and meaty. You can take it back to what they might do on the isle, scallops, black pudding, mashed potatoes, garlic and butter.’

Steven’s Sunday Dinner- hand-dived scallops & black pudding

Even though Steven no longer cooks in the restaurant he still enjoys cooking at home. Andy, a local scallop-diver, brought Steven a bag of freshly caught scallops which Steven used to create this scallops and black pudding Sunday dinner for his family.

Birthday Dish- fresh langoustine prawn cocktail!

‘I also love creel caught langoustines. It was my father-in-law’s 80th and George was phoning Magnus to say “Steven needs 140 langos for a prawn cocktail”. My father-in-law also loves his food- a fresh langoustine prawn cocktail, what more could you want?!’
Head chef George- ‘You’ve got to try scallops and langoustines. We had a really lovely summer dish in which we served scallops with pineapple, fresh mint and sweet chili which everyone loved.’ This has been chosen for the recipe card.

……………………………………………………………………………..

Passion for Wild Seafood

Fishbox proudly supplies fresh seafood to Rocpool. Steven, George and the whole team work together to create stunning dishes from locally caught, Scottish seafood.

The quality and provenance of his ingredients is something Steven feels passionately about: ‘This is how I see it, a farmer grows a pig, we make a sausage out of it. The farmer can make more pigs. However, when a fisherman goes out to sea, nature is creating this product. People ask why some fish dishes can be the most expensive on our menu, and I say well you can’t exactly go out and grow it. It’s a bit like wine, we’re so lucky we get to eat what nature has created for us, which tastes unbelievable.’

Rocpool Salmon gravadlax, blood orange & beetroot

‘We’re lucky in this part of the world that we’re able to eat these products. Somebody is risking their life to go out on a boat to go and bring it back for you. You’re incredibly privileged, we are all so privileged!’

……………………………………………………………………………..

The Rocpool team have put together this Langoustine with fresh golden pineapple, ginger and chilli recipe exclusively for Fishbox customers.

Try this recipe at home and share a photo with @rocpool @Fishboxuk
You could win a free upgrade to your next Fishbox!

Want to experience Rocpool for yourself?

To book a table call the lovely staff on 01463 717274 or book online:www.rocpoolrestaurant.com

ROCPOOL RESTAURANT
1 NESS WALK
INVERNESS
IV3 5NE