Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Pony Dining, The Rocks

Pony Dining, Cnr Argyle St and Kendall Lane, The Rocks
Wednesday 11 July, 2007

I'm a fan of Pony Dining and recommend it at every opportunity. So, when the brief came through for a celebration lunch I didn't hesitate to recommend this gem.

Our party of seven walked down to The Rocks on this overcast day. We had team members up from Melbourne so they felt quite at home on this cold, drizzly day. On arrival at Pony you are greeted by the wooden interior and the dramatic pony hide bar. Also impressive is the open kitchen where the man himself, Damian Heads, was standing front & centre.

The Michael Mann design is described as,

"The concept of Pony entails a unique, cutting edge exterior lounge and grill restaurant designed to take advantage of its stellar location in a former bond warehouse in a secluded cobblestone laneway, arguably Sydney’s first laneway restaurant and bar.The interior features a dramatic open kitchen with pony hide clad kitchen counter, heritage brick walls, commissioned woven art hangings on a mesh-clad side wall, black japanned recycled plank flooring and custom goat skin pendant lights hung from the original timber ceiling. The kitchen provides a fascinating theatrical attraction to passers-by with the flames of the wood-fired Argentinean inspired grill in one set of windows.An exterior timber deck features an 11 metre communal dining table and outdoor bar and lounge."

Although we walked into the main dining area we were directed onto the balcony to the large communal table. Even though it was a chilly day there was outdoor heating which kept us toasty. With menus shared across the table we poured over the offerings and the tough choice to make - everything sounded fabulous! But we did agree on grilled Italian flat bread
with smoky eggplant & white bean dip and Australian olives with rosemary, thyme and garlic to share.

The grilled flat bread was very similar to turkish bread, thinly sliced in long servings and with a dollop of dip on each plate. The olives were served in bowls and it didn't take our group long to polish these off. With wine ordered we locked in our main selections - I couldn't go past the Roasted free range chicken, bintje potato gnocchi, tarragon, peas, pan jus like several of my lunch buddies. Whilst the others ordered Risotto of balmain bug, fennel and chilli, Pan roasted snapper, clam chowder, spinach, potato, smoked bacon, 150 day grain fed angus sirloin, béarnaise, hand cut chips, watercress, and Grilled salmon, fetta, tomato, cucumber, kalamata olives.

When the food arrived there were plenty of 'ooh's and aahh's' amongst the group. The plates were large and the servings were generous. My chicken was lovely - it was crisp on the outside, incredibly tender and presented in a fan formation on the plate surrounded by a handful of soft gnocchi and jus.

The atmosphere increased with more lunch patrons and before we knew it the communal table was full. We were in no rush to return to work and the dessert menus arrived to provide a welcome distraction. Having sampled the Apple galette baked with frangipane, sauce anglaise before this was a popular choice and I shared one with a lunch buddy. The thin, delicate pastry was delightful and the finely sliced apple drowned in anglaise was seriously good. Also ordered were the Fruit trifle, almond sponge, vanilla cream and Chocolate indulgence. Again, incredibly good.

My lunch buddies were very impressed by their meals and all vowed to return. The service was attentive and when we asked for the music to be turned down twice they were more than happy to accommodate.

Overall, a great lunch experience.

Pony Dining - Cnr Argyle St and Kendall Lane, The Rocks - (02) 9252 7797



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