Josie Bones

98 Smith St, Collingwood
Date visited: 31st August 2013

I got a text from MerlinFan after the Masterchef episode where the contestants went to Josie Bones (gotta love the fact they are filming in Melbourne this year) saying that she and Mum really wanted to go and try their food.  Coincidentally I had missed that episode, so I did a bit of research online - and yes, by that, I meant their website.

Josie Bones is a joint owned by previous Masterchef contestants, Chris Badenoch and Julia Jenkins.  Josie Bones was actually the maiden name of Chris' best friend's mother - it sounds so indie and unusual.  This place is known for their passion for beer and food, priding themselves on cooking with the entire beast and concocting dishes from pig's head to ox tongue.  What better way to illustrate their point than to welcome you in with a pair of bronze pig trotters.

From Josie Bones website - yes I forgot to take a photo of this icon >:(
We made a booking but we were early and it was three quarters full when we got there.  We were shown seats at the long wood counter overlooking the bar.  The interior was beautiful and more so on the masculine side, with brick walls, a red and white striped feature wall and hanging lamps.  

We were studying the massive photo, trying to discern what animal it had once been.  My guess was on rabbit.  MerlinFan said pig.  We asked Mum (the best cook amongst us) and she said... human.  WTF.  And she said it seriously too.  

Seated at the bar meant we were served by none other than Julia Jenkins herself.  She was friendly, helpful and obviously very knowledgeable.  After we finished our meal, MerlinFan could not resist asking her for a photo.

They had a whole book dedicated not only to beers but also red, white and sparkling wines as well as ciders and spirits.  

MerlinFan was in the mood for Sweet apple cider.

Henney's Apple-Sweet Cider $16
Mum didn't feel like having a beer and I was the designated driver, so sparkling water for us.  Not like I was missing out - I can count the number of times I drink a year on the fingers of one hand.  Yes one.  Not both.

Hepburn Springs Sparkling Water $9.50
We started off with bread and butter.

We didn't know how big the servings were, so we asked and were advised that four to six were recommended for three.  Good-o.

First up, we had our Crackling with rhubarb sauce. 

Crackling $4
This was yummy, salty and brain-jarringly crunchy.  I really liked the tangy rhubarb sauce and used it for my chips later.

French Fries $9
Good French Fries with smoked salt and chipotle aioli.  I can't say I picked up on the smoked bit of the salt, but Mum loved the dip.  The chipotle loaded the creamy aioli with a smoky, spicy kick. 

Sadly enough, I don't think I did much justice to the beautiful presentation of each dish with my photos.  Due to the moody lighting from the overhanging lamps, most of of my pictures were cast in shadow.

There were a lot of interesting sounding dishes, so we did have some trouble narrowing it down to 3-4 dishes.  I have to admit that I was a bit squeamish about pigs trotter and ox tongue, so we decided to try something a little less adventurous, namely the Crumbed rolled pigs head with radish and sauce charcuterie.  The crumb was tasty and the pork nicely tender.

Rolled Pigs Head $14
The other thing MerlinFan really wanted to try was the Mountain Goat braised goat curry. This was definitely the dish of the day.  The goat was simply delicious.  The curry sauce was mild but very flavoursome, and the meat went nicely with the marshmallow-like clouds of cheese.

Mountain goat curry $20
 Lastly was the Mulled wine braised beef cheek with parsnip puree and crispy parsnip.

Mulled wine beef cheek $19
The beef cheek was pull apart tender and well executed.  The parsnip puree was on the sweet side but complemented the mulled wine.  I liked the paper thin parsnip chips for texture as well.  

We didn't come all this way not to have dessert, so despite being full, we decided to get one dessert to share.  Again, the options on offer sounded terribly tempting, but we finally agreed on the Sticky date pudding with butterscotch sauce and clotted cream.

Sticky date pudding $12

After pouring on butterscotch sauce (with much more to spare)

One word... mmmmmmmmmmmmmm.  I love sticky date pudding and this was ridiculously good.  I would have been happy eating three of those, had I not been so full.  The butterscotch sauce just added to the indulgence, with the silky clotted cream to break up that richness.  It was fantastic and we loved it.  It shoved the Mountain goat out of the way for dish of the day (in my humble opinion).

Overall, staff were pleasant, food was good - portions were not huge, but nice for sharing or grazing and with matching reasonable prices too.  The menu does change seasonally, so if you like your meat and beer, it's worth checking out if you're in Collingwood.

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