Chris Mann has taken the reins as Head Chef of Pony Dining, bringing over a decade of culinary experience to the kitchen and, now, unveiling a winter menu full of delicate, natural flavours showcasing Australian produce. We were fortunate to be invited to experience an array of dishes from this new menu on Monday night, including some from the Chef’s Selection, which offers a fabulous flavour experience for great value – $79 per person, and with matching wines from Wine and Hammer for an additional $45 per person.
An upscale bar and restaurant focusing on modern Australian cuisine, Pony Dining perched on the far end of the Eagle Street Pier precinct with stunning views over the Brisbane River and the Story Bridge. At the heart of the kitchen is an Argentinean wood fire grill, which adds a wonderfully earthy, smoky flavour in all the dishes, from the root vegetables on the winter menu to the fine cuts of meat and fresh seafood.
Although the views from the terrace are stunning, there’s also much to be said for a seat near the kitchen – not only can you watch the talented culinary team at work, but the warmth of the wood fire grill keeps you nice and toasty!
The Wagyu pastrami (above, R) is made in-house using Chef Mann’s own rub recipe, topped with ketchup, pickle, and puffed rye, and the slow-roasted carrots (above, L) were paired with fermented buckwheat and marrow custard. Both of these are on the ‘Chef’s Selection’ menu, and were paired with a lovely 2015 McLaren Vale Montepulciano.
The comte with smoked honey, black pepper, and torched fig was definitely a winner too – there was the sound of scraping spoons at our table! The creaminess of the cheese combining with the fruitiness of the fig was so satisfying, like a cheese platter but deliciously warming for winter.
Chef Chris Mann is passionate about local and seasonal produce, focusing on real flavours without overhandling. “The majority of my signature dishes feature just three or four components executed well,” he said of his personal style. “Take care of your produce and it will sing on the taste buds. Fresh produce is everything to me.”
Also from the Chef’s Selection were pippies and clams with garlic shoots, sesame, chilli, and beach leaves; parsnips from the hearth with romesco sauce, grilled leeks, and crunchy almonds; and the decadent dark chocolate tart with hazelnut, grand marnier, and milk gelato.
The beautifully presented Butterflied Knobby Snapper from New Zealand is a Queensland exclusive for Pony Dining, and it absolutely crumbles on your fork and in your mouth – divine.
Slicing into the sugar-cured king salmon was like running a hot knife through butter. Paired with the crunchy tapioca, asparagus foam, and the bite of the radish, this was by far my favourite dish. I’m normally a no-meat person, but fish is something I love and grew up eating, and this was beautiful fish in every sense, paired with a 2017 Adelaide Hills Chardonnay.
The black angus sirloin reportedly melted in the mouth, and I can personally vouch for the magic of those potatoes and artichokes, and the sauce, which was described as somewhere between a red wine jus and a béarnaise. Magic.
Also from the new winter menu, we had the opportunity to sample the autumn leaves salad with grapes, macadamias, and aged ricotta; and the interesting combination of goat’s cheddar, apple, horseradish, and pistachio crisp. It was more of a cheese dish than I had expected, and an unusual flavour and texture combination, but very enjoyable as an alternative to finishing with a cheese platter or similar, especially paired with the 2010 Adelaide Hills De Anima Late Harvest Semillon.
Pony Dining is in a prime position for waterfront views, but equally lovely is the rustic interior, and the staff were incredibly warm and hospitable. For further information and to view the full winter menu, visit Pony Dining’s website.