My weekday diet is almost vegetarian because I'm usually too lazy to cook meat. Last week, I was drowning in persistent fatigue, despite getting more than enough sleep and with the absence of anything better to blame, I thought it might be iron deficiency. I picked up a roast chook to get me through till the end of the week and told Marc we would be eating lots of meat on the weekend. As expected for a regular male, he was more than happy to accomodate my wishes.
I was keen on Pony when it first opened up but it's got mostly negative reviews online. My willingness to try new restaurants and the fact that it markets itself as a grill restaurant (i.e. 'lots of meat') lead me to push away those apprehensions and give it a go. We made a booking for Saturday evening.
Pony is located opposite Sake in the Eagle Street Pier dining precinct. We didn't know exactly where it was when we got there but it's a large restaurant and difficult to miss when approaching from the city. It's a good thing we made a booking because Pony was packed. Every table my eye wandered across was full.
We were lead to a table next to the window, facing the city. It's a shame the windows didn't open out onto the river because the views would have been spectacular. Maybe on the other side of the restaurant they do... I didn't walk around and check.
Marc commented that he expected the menu to be 'more meaty'. There was a whole section of grill dishes, both for individual eating and sharing. I suppose he expected a whole page of nothing but proteins. Aside from the woodfire grill items, there were couple of seafood and vegetarian dishes and a good selection of starters.
Marc just went for a beer but I chose a gin and tonic for my drink of the evening. I wasn't going to mention that in this post since they're standard drinks, but we noticed that Pony advertised something about a gin garden. Marc chose my drink for me but from what he said, there was a selection of different gins and gin-based cocktails. Gin lovers can get their fill here.
We ordered the flatbread and asked our waitress for another starter recommendation. She suggested the tuna sashimi, which I thought was a strange offering at a restaurant that supposedly had Argentinian influences (or did I just imagine reading that?) For our mains, we chose the coal pit roast lamb and a couple of sides to share.
Sashimi tuna roll - with green soy bean, corriander and chili sauce
The tuna sashimi rolls were pretty good. I was literally starving by then, having skipped lunch in a rush to get to Brisbane after work. They went down a treat. Marc said they were like a cross between sushi and sausage rolls because of the thin pastry component. They were unique, which I liked, but as the rest of our food came out, I maintain that it didn't fit the overall 'theme'.
Grilled eggplant - with smoky eggplant and white bean dip
The flatbread was OK. It had a nice texture but there was a greasy oil smell/flavor that I didn't like. It was almost kerosene-ish. We couldn't detect much flavor in the dip. I guessed it was eggplant based purely on the texture. I think at some point, I started using the sashimi sauce to dip my bread instead.
'Coal pit' slow lamb roast for 2
Our main didn't take too much longer to arrive. I always fall into the trap of seeing a small bowl of meat and thinking "hmm... that's not much at all". Meat is hefty and filling! We were barely halfway through that amount and already struggling to breathe from fullness.
My plate of lamb, sides and chimichurri
There was mostly soft, slow-cooked meat with a piece of skin that I was tempted to try but ended up leaving. The lamb was well, lamby without much other flavor. It was 'pure' and unadorned. We chose the chimichurri sauce to go with it and that's where all the flavor (mostly garlic with a bit of chili) came from. The texture was nice and tender but I didn't think it was too different from a well-done home roast, to be honest.
Chips with roast garlic aioli and steamed greens with almond butter
Our sides comprised of some buttered greens and chips. The greens made for a welcome break from the heavy meat and chips. Even so, they were still coated with butter. They tasted lovely but I felt they were overcooked and too soft. I prefer beans to be 'just' cooked and still slightly crisp.
Marc thought they chips were great. I thought they were alright but could have been more golden and crunchier. I have a pet hate towards undercooked chips. I still ate them though because the garlic aioli was delicious.
We weren't too thrilled by the food at Pony. I'm sad to say I agree with most other reviews I've read online. The restaurant looks lovely and the location is spot on but the bottom line is food and it just didn't taste that good. There are too many amazing restaurants to go to in Brisbane to be settling for 'ok' food at high prices.