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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Pinbone, Woollahra

Chocolate crackle with parfait at Pinbone, Woollahra

Pinbone in Woollahra has closed. It is now open in Kensington as Good Luck Pinbone

Chocolate crackles. Pinbone doesn't just let you relive that memory of childhood awesomeness. They serve each patty pan of chocolatey crunch with a slab of parfait on the top. There. That got your attention.

And you know what? It works. Brilliantly. The unsweetened chocolate-coated rice crispies are a tasty match against that silky, smooth, rich and buttery whipped chicken liver parfait. You'll have rice crispies tumbling down your shirt and parfait on the top of your lip but that's half the fun. Every adult birthday party needs these. Stat.

Dining room at Pinbone, Woollahra
Pinebone upstairs dining room

You'll find Pinbone on the former Buzo site in Woollahra, no longer serving pasta but doling out all kinds of weird but interesting dishes that are a breath of fresh air. The team is a creativity collective that includes chefs Mike Eggert and Jemma Whiteman (both ex-Billy Kwong) in the kitchen and Berri Eggert (ex-Duke and Bar at the End of the Wharf) on the floor.

Trying to dissect the menu can be frustrating with nothing but a list of ingredients for each dish. Staff will happily provide more detail if you ask, but otherwise you could go for the Chef's Selection (small $65pp or large $85pp) which offer a broad tasting of dishes if you're dining alone or in small groups.

Smoky cheesy potato thing at Pinbone, Woollahra
Smoky, cheesy, potato thing $4 each

There are five of us tonight and we happily order everything on the snacks menu. The smoky, cheesy, potato thing is a Pinbone classic. It might look like a humble potato skin but the filling of molten cheese is something else. They use a smoked cheese that hits you in the face like a Mack truck. In a good way. Its smokiness wafts in around your nose, floods your palate and makes you wish you had ordered more, as you savour the puddle of melted cheese against the crisp edges of deep-fried potato.

We end up ordering another round of these at the end of dinner. I bet you will too.

Coffee and leek gougere at Pinbone, Woollahra
Coffee and leek gougere $4 each

The snacks menu is like one big cocktail party. Coffee and leek gougeres are petite and airy but the flavour of leek is a little overwhelmed by the ground coffee which tends to override everything with its bitterness, making it tastes like it burnt when it isn't.

Lamb ribs at Pinbone, Woollahra
Lamb ribs $5 each

The lamb ribs are nothing but finger-licking goodness. They may be small in size, but these pack a punch, the soft, melt-in-the-mouth fatty lamb coated in a sticky sweet glaze and blanketed with toasted almond flakes.

Chicken poppers at Pinbone, Woollahra
Chicken poppers $4

Chicken poppers are tszujed up too, the bite-sized crumbed and fried juicy chicken fillets served on a butter lettuce cup with mayonnaise and grated carrot. The salad almost convinces you it's all healthy eating here.

Fairy bread at Pinbone, Woollahra
Fairy bread $4 each

Fairy bread reaches new heights of sophistication here too. Soft and fluffy slices of white bread are spread with mascarpone cream and then covered in flying fish roe, caviar and chives. It's a burst of brine with every bite.

Prawn dog with corn miso at Pinbone, Woollahra
Prawn dog with corn miso and prawn head powder $5 each

We were also luck enough to score some of their prawn dogs, a dish they were still tinkering with but yet to make it on the official menu. Stalking of their Instagram account meant we knew they had made some just today.

Prawn dog with corn miso at Pinbone, Woollahra
Prawn dog!

It's another fancified version of a childhood classic, this time a mini paddlepop stick with a battered and deep-fried disc of prawn mince. On the side is a dish of corn miso sauce for dipping but it's the smattering of prawn head powder that is the most mind-blowing. It's intense and instantly enthralling, like crustacean crack.

Lamb tartare with eggplant at Pinbone, Woollahra
Lamb tartare, eggplant, garlic and parsley $20

The lamb tartare isn't always available either. The lamb leg is aged for six weeks underneath a layer of roasted mutton fat before it's hand-chopped and mixed with sticky cubes of roasted eggplant, crunchy garlic chips and deep-fried leaves of parsley.

It's the first of our sharing plates to emerge and it's a winner. There are a total of 16 share plates on the menu. By the end of the night, we'll have plowed through eleven of them.

Mushroom with red cabbage and black sesame at Pinbone, Woollahra
Mushrooms, red cabbage and black sesame $20

There are four different types of mushrooms in our salad: enoki, shiitake, wood ear fungus and buttons. It's an earthy mix of textures and flavours, especially against the shavings of red cabbage and snowstorm of ground black sesame across the top.

Squid, cauliflower and marrow at Pinbone, Woollahra
Squid, cauliflower and marrow $20

You have to delve beneath a carpet of crunch to find the roasted cauliflower and quivering discs of bone marrow but it's the squid that's the most intriguing. The paper-thin slices of poached squid have an incredible tenderness to them.

Leatherjacket and asparagus at Pinbone, Woollahra
Leatherjacket and asparagus $24

They know how to work magic in the kitchen. The leatherjacket has been poached in butter until soft and yielding, served with a white soy sesame dressing and fine slices of raw and crisp asparagus.

Tofu, bacon and cucumber at Pinbone, Woollahra
Tofu, bacon and cucumber $22

The tofu, bacon and cucumber isn't what you expect either. The cubes of silken tofu - deep-fried in the lightest batter - perch on a pool of smoky bacon and tomato sauce.  Curls of de-seeded pickled cucumber add an acidic counterpoint.

Tofu, bacon and cucumber at Pinbone, Woollahra
Clams, blackbean, jalapeno and lardo $24

Clams with blackbeans, jalapeno and lardo feels like a clever riff on Chinese-style clams with salted blackbeans and chilli. Here we're feasting on succulent clam meat with black bean puree, jalapeno chilli and glistening nubbins of mouth-loving lardo.

Chicken, kale and garlic at Pinbone, Woollahra
Chicken, kale and garlic $20

Chicken might sound like the safe choice, but you can't beat it when it's cooked to a luscious tenderness. Veggies come in the form of kale and snow fungus, but it's the roasted garlic jus we can't stop scooping up with our spoons.

Broccoli, parmesan and anchovy at Pinbone, Woollahra
Broccoli, parmesan and anchovy $20

So I've always cut and cooked my broccoli into mini florets but why didn't anyone tell me that slicing them laterally into giant multi-branched trees is much more fun? They're cooked like a vegetarian version of steak, coated with an parmesan and jus sauce that's been blow-torched to a caramelised brown. Hidden at the bottom is a secret treasure of anchovy cream.

Parsnip, pear and nori at Pinbone, Woollahra
Parsnip, pear and nori $20

Parsnip, pear and nori look like five little bears snuggled up for winter. The roasted pears rest on a fluffy layer of parsnip puree, all tucked under an eiderdown of pickled parsnip slices.

Carrot and musssels at Pinbone, Woollahra
Carrot and mussels $20

Slow-roasted carrots are the new kings on the restaurant vegetables scene, it seems. Here they're roasted at a low temperature until soft and almost candy sweet. Interspersed among the tangle of carrots are plump mussels. The juice from cooking the mussels has been emulsified into creamy deliciousness and even the carrot tops have been re-used, deep-fried so the green fronds turn to a welcome crisp.

Pork and pineapple at Pinbone, Woollahra
Pork and pineapple $28

Pork and pineapple is a commendable finale. Our eyes glaze over as soon as we spy that bubble of crackling. On top of pork belly. Hellooooo..... But there's more to this dish than porcine pleasures. A hunk of pineapple to one side adds sweetness with a smoky char and on the other side is a clump of mixed herbs, adding a light freshness to each slab of pork.

They like flavoured powders here, and so do I. The spoonful of kombu, nori and licorice salt is designed for dipping and seasoning your pork. We also end up licking the final smithereens with our fingers. Okay, maybe that was just me.

Malted custard, sponge cake and quince at Pinbone, Woollahra
Malted custard, sponge cake and quince $14

Desserts are short and sweet with just four items on the menu. Quince gets star billing on our first dessert, the poached fruit served with slabs of sponge cake and dollops of malted custard.

Lemon chess pie and malted custard dessert at Pinbone, Woollahra
Lemon chess pie and malted custard (work-in-progress)

Mr and Mrs Pigflyin' have been here so many times that the kitchen happily send out a few desserts that are still works-in-progress. First up is a lemon chess pie, a dessert I'd last tried in Austin, Texas. Chess pie hails from Southern America that traditionally uses cornmeal in the filling. Here they've used a puff pastry base instead of the usual pie shell or biscuit base, but the lemon filling has a glorious richness to it, baked so the top has a slightly chewy crust.

Licorice marshmallow with persimmon dessert at Pinbone, Woollahra
Licorice marshmallow with persimmon (work in progress)

We also get to check out another dessert prototype: licorice marshmallow with persimmon. The licorice marshmallow has a strong anise flavour but it feels more like a custard than a marshmallow. It's an interesting pairing with the persimmon slices too, shaved wafer-thin and draped over the top like delicate flower petals. A sprinkle of licorice ash adds even more depth.

Apple, bay and cider dessert at Pinbone, Woollahra
Apple, bay and cider $14

Back to our normal programming of ordered desserts, the apple, bay and cider is another example of the wonderfully weird. The apple tart - including a layer of frangipane - is topped with a quenelle of bay leaf and cider ice cream that proves incredibly addictive, and well-matched against the tartness of the apple.

Banana and rum dessert at Pinbone, Woollahra
Banana and rum $16

The abbreviated description "banana and rum" gives no indication of the wild fun it actually turns out to be. It's a DIY sundae: a scoop of rum and banana ice cream surrounded by a riot of textures and flavours. Banana chips, walnuts in malt, caramelised white chocolate, waffles and fresh strawberries all vie for attention. Beneath the ice cream is a nest of black sesame black sticky rice. I'd say this dessert presented hours of fun but really we polished this off in minutes.

Chocolate crackler with parfait dessert at Pinbone, Woollahra
Chocolate crackle with parfait $4 each

And for someone who always like to try something new, it's saying something that I returned just over a week later for more. I pick all my favourites from my last visit and they are just as good as I remembered.

Lamb ribs at Pinbone, Woollahra
Lamb ribs $5 each

We snack our way through the cheesy, smoky potato things, the chocolate crackle with parfait and the almond-costed lamb ribs that fall straight off the bone.

Raw zucchnini with pecorino and lemon at Pinbone, Woollahra
Raw zucchini with pecorino and lemon $12

The kitchen surprises us with a complimentary serve of raw zucchini with grated pecorino and lemon but I think that's because they figured we needed something to offset our main: that sexy beast of roast pork belly with pineapple. Hubba hubba.

They seem to be constantly adding or tweaking dishes here which means even more reason to return. And quickly.

Pork and pineapple at Pinbone, Woollahra
Pork and pineapple $28

Pinbone, Woollahra

Pinbone on Urbanspoon

Pinbone in Woollahra has closed. It is now open in Kensington as Good Luck Pinbone
3 Jersey Road, Woollahra, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9328 1600

Opening hours
Brunch Sunday 8am-3.30pm
Dinner Wednesday to Saturday 6pm - late

No bookings on Sundays

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
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23 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 5/18/2014 12:03:00 am


  • At 5/18/2014 12:56 am, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    so far ive only tried the brunch menu but i heart pinbone! the pork and pineapple looks mighty fine but my heart is set on the chocolate crackles..

  • At 5/18/2014 2:57 am, Anonymous Padaek said…

    Fascinating menu - the banana and rum especially looks wonderful!! :D

  • At 5/18/2014 8:34 am, Anonymous Hannah said…

    In the name of all that is holy I want everything. TAKE ME HERE PLZ

  • At 5/18/2014 2:06 pm, Anonymous Tina@foodboozeshoes said…

    This looks seriously amazing. But holy moly - potato cups filled with cheese? What delicious heavenly snacking is this?!

  • At 5/18/2014 3:11 pm, Anonymous angela@mykikicake said…

    Oh I love it, especially because it feels like I just got a snapshot of the whole menu. Love the mixture of ingredients, I would never think of putting some of those things together.

  • At 5/18/2014 11:00 pm, Blogger Annie said…

    looks like you had an epic feast. so many dishes to try!

  • At 5/19/2014 10:49 am, Blogger Jacq said…

    omg that cheesy potato thing! and I would have never thought that chicken liver parfait and chocolate crackles would go together but I guess I'll just have to try it out for myself

  • At 5/19/2014 9:25 pm, Anonymous Hilda said…

    Dinner looks gorgeous although I've been wanting to give their brunch menu a go for the longest time!

  • At 5/20/2014 12:50 pm, Anonymous Chris @ MAB vs Food said…

    Wow you got to try a lot dishes there! Pinbone is great, I especially like their pork belly and pineapple dish :)

  • At 5/20/2014 2:48 pm, Anonymous Gourmet Getaways said…

    Nice photos! Every dish seems well-planned. Thanks for the awesome review!

    Gourmet Getaways

  • At 5/20/2014 3:01 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    LOVE IT! Your photos are awesome. I had such a lovely meal there a few weeks ago.

  • At 5/20/2014 6:44 pm, Anonymous john | heneedsfood said…

    Wowsers. I thought your food would never end! I can see why you were attracted to this place. So much interesting food!

  • At 5/20/2014 7:42 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    What clever clever food! Though I do hope Buzo finds their CBD site - I need some vincisgrassi

  • At 5/20/2014 8:30 pm, Blogger Winston said…

    Wow, Helen... I am seriously intrigued by the creativity they've displayed here. Such a fun play of unconventional flavours. I like it when chefs challenge what we know and expect. Glad to hear the food here is delish =)

  • At 5/20/2014 9:49 pm, Blogger Sarah said…

    Woah that looks so fun!! That cheesy smoky potato thing looks and sounds amaaaaazing.

    Also, surprisingly, I could totally go a bowl of that zucchini salad! :)

    xox Sarah

  • At 5/21/2014 10:46 am, Blogger Unknown said…

    Those chocolate crackles!! Great post this place looks amazing :)

  • At 5/21/2014 1:17 pm, Anonymous Charlene @ aus2usa.wordpress.com said…

    I know where I'm heading next weekend! Smoky, cheesy, potato thing. looks way too amazing to pass up on.

    Thanks for the awesome review!


  • At 5/21/2014 2:02 pm, Blogger irene said…

    I don't know which one I would love to try more; the prawn dog or the fancy fairy bread. Yum!

  • At 5/21/2014 5:48 pm, Anonymous gastronomous anonymous said…

    i have heard wonderful things about this place! I can't wait to try that prawn dog and the fancy fairy bread! YUM!

  • At 5/21/2014 8:24 pm, Anonymous Trisha said…

    Fairy bread? Chicken liver parfait + rice krispies? Oh wow what an awesome playful take on some oldies but goodies!

  • At 5/21/2014 9:14 pm, Anonymous Alice said…

    You had me a chocolate crackles Helen! But put me down for some fancy flying roe caviar bread too ;)

  • At 5/24/2014 4:06 pm, Anonymous Sara | Belly Rumbles said…

    Chocolate crackles with parfait, well why the hell not! Food looks really scrumptious and another one I have added to my must visit list.

  • At 6/17/2014 10:37 am, Anonymous Amanda @ Gourmanda said…

    I love how playful some of the food seems - like you said, it's like a grownup birthday party! Chocolate crackles, fairy bread, popsicles...too cool!


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