Pinbone, a small busy-busy Sydney restaurant
Location: A collaborative residency at 10 William. (February 8 to June 2016)
Chef: Mike Eggert, Jemma Whiteman
Editor’s Note: Since Foodie Mookie’s review of Pinbone, the owners have sold and formed a collaboration with 10 William.
What exactly is “popup”. Normally it would mean here today gone tomorrow, a statement of imperminence. Pinbone is not a popup, but some have described it thus. The decore has seen better days, the menu are simply printed paper, the wine list small but interesting with a good selection of natural/biodynamic/organics wines. The food is all shares plates except for a few starters for 1. The space is not especially creative, just quite small. The vibe: busy, cramped, noisy, noisy, noisy. Did I say noisy? 😛
So I arrive with Mookie through the front door and we are immediately greeted by a friendly staff member who looks busy but stops to direct us up to our table upstairs. Gosh this place is busy. What was that? Did you yell something? “Oh no!” our table is dead smack in the middle of the floor, crushed from all side and I’m not a small guy. We sit, the menus arrive. Mookie sits quietly browsing the food on offer and scanning the room (such a people watcher) whilst I peruse the wine list. Savignin from Jura please! Now to the food, fish I think. Mookie cries fowl.
The waitress returns with the wine, “very good selection sir, this is probably our best white (of the flattery!). Wine is poured. A strong attack fading off to pleasing citrus, the dry crisp minerality sets in. Mookie compliments the wine and I’m feeling chuffed as its been quite a while off the wagon and this is a great rejoinder.
The first dish arrives. Bonito with pomelo and celery. Lovely. The crunch of the celery, bitterness of the pomelo and the oiliness of the fish work well, with a hidden heat arriving shortly from what I believe is yuzu sauce. Oily, spicy yet fresh, this dish works well against the dryness of the wine and it is reminiscent of a dish from Tokkuri in Cammeray, Sydney. Next the leatherjacket on a bed of sliced snowpeas. The nutty sweetness of the snowpeas works well with the leatherjacket. The citrus comes through in the wine, counterpointing the sweetness of the fish. We are both enjoying this combination and progression.
Until…the beef heart. Three dishes in and whilst a really well made dish, it was shockingly heaving straight after the delicate fish dishes and wine prior. Note: meals are served in the order they appear “down the list” of the menu. Such a shame that an interesting dish was simply served at the wrong point in the meal. It would have been lovely further into the progression of the meal, and have worked perfectly with tannin of the red wine.
Having had the white wine experience destroyed by the beef heart I rush to order an orange wine (orange from extended grape skin contact) – a new thing that I’m exploring. The choice is a Munjebel 8, a sicilian wine made from Grecanico, Carricante and Catarratto which has a startling nose but a taste that is complex but pleasant. There is a definite attack, prickling the tongue. A smokiness comes through in the wine then flint, not something that I’ve experienced often in wine and quite a pleasant surprise. It’s a complex beast, but intriguing – perhaps a hint of white pepper and some citrus but with a hint of sweetness.
The tofu, bacon and cucumber is not to my taste, but Mookie waxes lyrical about it’s culinary heights (she is such a veg lover and puts tofu in the supreme protein category) but I think it vaguely resembles a saveloy deep fried in batter on a stick – at least it works well with the smokiness of the wine which stands up well. The cucumber help to clear the heaviness of the bacon paste. A seat juggle ensues as a table of four leaves beside us and the waiter asks if we would welcome a little more room. Would we ever; Mookie has moved before I’ve had a chance to respond. 😀
Suddenly food starts to arrive en masse:
- Pork and pickles,
- quail walnut parmesan brocollini,
- raw zucchini lemon pecorino,
- pickled beetroot, quail egg, herbs.
The pickles are sweet but acid and cut through the tender fattiness of the pork, also sweet. The beetroot is much more acid with a light sweetness that cuts through the rich goodness of the soft centred quail egg. The wine works wonderfully with these dishes, its so rare to find a wine that can compete with pickles, but the bold example from volcanic soils of Mt Etna which is aged in terra cotta pots is defiant whilst still remaining pleasant on the palate.
The quail is only lightly cooked, and I struggle with it’s raw look and sets it aside. Pookie consumes his but it isn’t a highlight as the coating overpowers the meat – this coating would work well with a more gamey bird (perhaps wild quail?). The bed of walnut and broccolini stems is a meal itself and could easily be served without the quail to much appreciation. Mookie barely spoke during this set of dishes, apparently the veg was “sublime”.
The raw zuchinni is sappy and leaves me wondering if the zucchini had been rinsed after grating to remove the inherent sappiness that always accompanies the raw vegetable. The pecorino and lemon are great matches. A good dish that could be better.
Alas, half a bottle of the Munjebel remains so I gift it to the staff as he would like to try a glass of red with his dessert, its a shame that the beef heart wasn’t being served just now rather than earlier. It would have gone wonderfully with a mid-weight red. The choice of red is Dogma – a Blaufrankish (grape variety from Austria). Spice, pepper and red fruit with a nose of berries and minerals. It complements the chocolate, roast hazelnut and blackberries in the dessert.
A second dessert arrives compliments of the house for the wine given to the staff – a lovely touch to complete out our evening at Pinbone.