Pinbone, Woollahra

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I love birthdays. Whether it is my own or someone else’s, it is the perfect excuse to go out and celebrate over good food. For my belated birthday dinner this year, K took me to Pinbone – a restaurant serving creative and interesting dishes by chefs Mike Eggert and Jemma Whiteman, both ex-Billy Kwong.

Downstairs holds a communal table and some seats along the bar. Tonight, we were seated upstairs. The waiter explained that the menu is designed for sharing but there is also the option of Chef’s Selection which offers a broad selection of dishes with smaller serving sizes. Since it was our first time here, we decided to go for the small Chef’s Selection which consists of a few snacks, eight downsized sharing dishes and dessert.Pinbone4e

Cheesy, smoky, potato things were fried potato skins with smoked gruyere sauce. I loved the smokiness of the melted cheese as it resembled bacon and we all know that cheese, bacon and potato makes the best combination!

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Chicken poppers were fried chicken served on a butter lettuce cup with jalepeno mayonnaise and pickled carrot. The fried chicken was juicy and flavoursome by itself but the lettuce and pickled carrot gave it some freshness (not like we needed it though).

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The slow-cooked lamb ribs with five spiced almonds were finger-licking good. Literally. They were soft and easily came off the bone. The glaze was sweet, sticky and was reminiscent of hoisin sauce.

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The first of our share plates was roasted cauliflower, poached squid and whipped bone marrow. The poached squid was so soft, contrasting with the slightly crunchy bits of caramelised onion powder. The whipped bone marrow was amazing, adding a gamey flavour to the dish.

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The leatherjacket was served on a bed of snow peas with a white wine, soy and sesame dressing. The fish was poached in butter and
the flavours were simple and beautiful.Pinbone15

I love it when I’m surprised by a dish. I don’t like carrots but I loved the roasted baby carrots, mussels and mussel cream. The carrots had been slow roasted and fried until crisp. The mussels went well with the sweet, soft-centered but crispy carrots.

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I can’t decide on my favourite dish of the night. But one of them had to be the chargrilled kingfish wings accompanied by hazelnuts, pomelo and sprouts. It was my first time trying kingfish wings and it was perfectly cooked. It was sweet but perfectly balanced by the celery and pomelo dressing. K thought the hazelnuts were unnecessary but I enjoyed eating them on the side.

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The batter of the silken tofu was beautifully light, dusted with bacon salt which I then smothered in the spicy tomato sauce.

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We were already starting to get full by this stage but our appetite returned once we tried a bit of the roasted pumpkin, pepita and silverbeet. Sounded and looked very normal but the pumpkin was sweet and well-matched with the puree and salty silverbeet.

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If I had to pick one dish that I enjoyed the least the whole night, it would have to be the quail with broccolini, walnuts and parmesan. With high expectations came disappointment, as the quail was dry and the batter was similar to KFC.

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Pinbone’s signature dish is the pork and pineapple. We were told to pick up the pork belly, dip it in the licorice, kombu and nori powder, eat it with a piece of pineapple and finish with some herbs. It’s not easy to beat Chinese roast pork belly but this version came pretty close with crispy crackling and even layers of fat versus meat. The powder was a bit salty and sweet – it was delicious so K and I continued with the powder even after we finished the pork. The herb salad was delightfully refreshing but also flavourful with a dressing that reminded us of Vietnamese fish sauce.

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The Chef’s Selection menu was supposed to only consist of eight share plates, but if I calculated correctly then we received nine, the ninth one being raw zucchini with grated pecorino and lemon. The salad was light and almost acted as a palate cleanser.

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Finally, it was time for dessert! It was just written as banana and rum on the menu but what came out was a dish with many components. I was having so much fun with this dessert as each mouthful was a different combination of flavours. There was rum and banana ice cream, black sesame black sticky rice, waffles, caramelised white chocolate, banana chips, fresh strawberries, salted caramel mousse, malted walnuts and a tuille. The waffles were a bit dry, but was easily fixed by topping it with some rum and banana ice cream or some salted caramel mousse.

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Pinbone is exceptionally good value with interesting and tasty dishes to offer. The adult version of fairy bread sounded delicious (toast with mascarpone and topped with fish roe) but wasn’t part of the Chef’s Selection menu so next time I will be back to try their a la carte menu. Thank you to K again for the dinner and company!

– C

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