Monday, May 2, 2011

Trot into Pony Lounge & Dining

I’ve been told that I drag my feet (usually in fluffy slippers, at home); I’ve been told I have a funny run (especially in thongs, for the bus); and I’ve been told that I strut (in heels, at work).

I haven’t yet been told that I trot, but with Rosemount Australian Fashion Week kicking off today, there might be a whole lot of trotting, on and off the catwalk, down Circular Quay way.

The very natural interior of Pony Lounge and Dining, Argyle Street, The Rocks, Sydney
Pony Lounge & Dining at The Rocks turned out to be an early weeknight back-up plan that, like some fashion trends, I still can’t really explain. The natural, almost countrified historic setting featuring wood, leather and woven straw art would seem right on for a steak house (and the name somewhat too – not that I eat from the equine species really).

Rather, the menu consists of seasonally-driven, modern share plates and a wood fire grill selection. That’s probably where I got the steak connation from, but there are only a couple of beefy mains among other tantalising proteins off the grill that’s fired by iron bark timber.

Yearning for meat, yet drawn to the share plates, a pair of us compromise on a selection of the smaller plates and a shared main meal. And I guess that’s the kind of flexibility this menu allows.

Grilled Italian flat bread with smoky eggplant and white bean dip
I’ve had a thing for eggplant for a good few years now, adoring it in silky, fried or smoky states. This dip was definitely the latter, with the smokiness almost stronger than the eggplant itself.

Not the prettiest dip ever, with clumps, lumps and white beans throughout, the flavours were big and enjoyed slathered generously on the flat, grill-marked bread.

Duck liver parfait, toasted sourdough baguette, cornichons
If a dish like parfait had a doneness, this would be medium-rare. The sides were definitely more a deep brown-pink while the centre was most definitely pink.

Wonderfully smooth and light even, I couldn't enjoy the livery bitterness as much as my dining partner, even with the thinly sliced cornichons, though the toasted slices of sourdough worked just as well with the eggplant dip.

Buffalo mozzarella, eggplant, capsicum, caper and olive salsa
This is more my kind of dish. More eggplant is never a bad thing in my books; here with capsicum, capers and olives in an oil and vinegar dressed salsa, surrounded by fluffy torn segments of buffalo mozzarella.

Gorgeous cheese it was, soft and quite salty; thus bringing out more of the creamy flavours (as opposed to so many bland bocconcinis I've had). I wish this came in a main size.

Sashimi yellowfin tuna spring roll, green soy bean sauce
One of two sashimi dishes on the share plates menu, the tuna spring roll is something of a contradictory specialty. Imagine a cylinder of yellowfin tuna, wrapped in cabbage leaves (presumably for heat protection to maintain a sashimi state), then in a spring roll wrapper, flash fried so that the outside becomes crispy.

It comes as a slightly warmed piece of sashimi that doesn't have quite the same smooth texture anymore, but still contrasts with the crispy skin and soft cabbage.

I loved the bright red fish on soft green puree, but thought it could have used more of the tart dot of sauce atop each piece to make the overall flavours pop just that little bit more.

Seared sirloin - soy, lime, chilli and lemongrass dressing
The beef share plate showed signs of a very brief encounter with the grill but looked a lot like a Japanese beef tataki with its raw centre. The seasoning was also decidedly Asian, featuring a rich soy sauce, zingy lime juice, very mild chilli and finely diced lemongrass.

The flavours partied on the palate although some slices of the sirloin required a little more chewing than others. I can imagine this dish with wagyu might be pretty darned good.

Roasted loin of pork with crackling, roast potatoes, parsnip, onion, carrot
and red wine jus
Our shared main was the special of the night, described as a roasted pork loin with accompanying vegetables, crackling and res wine jus. It was one hefty piece of meat, a lot for one to handle, I'd think.

But there's nothing quite like a propellor of pork crackling on top of a dish to get the appetite going.

Alternate view of the roasted loin of pork
The pork was topped with layer of fat that was easily removed, and while tender, I think it could have used more sauce since it was a little subdued and starting to verge on mildly dry. A quick dunk in the jus and dabs of pesto certainly helped.

The vegetables were reminiscent of a Sunday roast: halved chat potatoes, mushy parsnip, softened onions and a baby carrot each. And of course, a piece of heavenly crackly each - crunchy, savoury and all the good things about pork.

Time unfortunately did not allow for desserts, so the quick service with the bill at the end was appreciated. As we galloped out of there, I reconsidered my position on the share plates - I'm rather like them and am looking forward to weekend lunch opportunities out on the long lounge table outside.

Pony Lounge & Dining on Urbanspoon

15 comments:

sugarpuffi said...

oh yay! i wasnt able to comment before. odd.

I actually went to have their ladies lunch last week during the easter break! the food was pretty good but the servings was so small!

i would have to try the yellowfin tuna and seared sirloin next time! looks delicious!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

The food looks great. I have only been there once and we had an early meal and we weren't that impressed by the offering. It sounds like the proper meals are much better :)

Dumpling Girl said...

I'd heard mixed reviews about this place, but your photos make the food look so good. Very tempting...

Tina said...

Hi sugarpuffi - Yep, that was my bad. The share plates are a lil on the small side, I guess - but OK if you've got a main somewhere.

Hi Lorraine - Yeah, I'd be keen to revisit more of the share menu.

Hi Dumpling Girl - I think we picked pretty well from the menu :)

Angie Lives to Eat (and Cook)! said...

Can't imagine you dragging your feet around (in fluffy slippers) ;)
The buffalo mozzarella looks so soft and fluffy!

Ellie (Almost Bourdain) said...

The food looks good. Love the tuna spring rolls. Wonder if the Pony in Neutral Bay has the same menu.

Nic@diningwithastud said...

The pork looks amazing! Its a shame it was on the dry side :(
The sashimi roll would totally have been my pick too. YUM!

chopinandmysaucepan said...

The sirloin looks good but perhaps a little bit more time on the grill would bring out more flavour.

Tina said...

Hi Angie - It was probably the best buffalo mozzarella I've had in Australia, but forgot to ask where it was from...!

Hi Ellie - I think it's the same menu (or at least very very similar).

Hi Nic - Sashimi roll was a pretty cool concept :)

Hi chopinandmysaucepan - Agreed :)

tori said...

Ah! I'd almost forgotten this place existed- I think we had one meal there when it first opened. Do remember it being in a pretty nifty and handy location. Thanks for jogging my memory.

Two fit and fun gals said...

i went to pony dining once in 2009 and once in 2008 - i remember both times i really enjoyed the meal

alot on the menu has changed since and the food still looks great! i must come back some time

the tuna spring rolls look delicious

Tina said...

Hi Tori - Yeah, nice location and it definitely feels like The Rocks.

Hi Two fit and fun gals - They're a stayer :) The spring rolls were certainly interesting.

IanL said...

I loved the yellowfin tune spring roll when I went to Pony Neutral Bay with work a short while back...been wanting to revisit!

IanL said...

Oh and did the pork too = happy me! :-)

Tina said...

Hey Ian - Yup, choice dishes :)

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