Shop 22, Jindalee Homemaker Centre, Goggs Road Jindalee, QLD 407407 3715 5571
|Opening hours||Mon-Sun 8am-5pm|
|Prices||Moderate (mains $20-$40)|
Last year, Kym Machin was named Chef of the Year in the inaugural brisbanetimes.com.au Good Food Guide. Now, he’s rolling burritos in Jindalee.
This is not a cautionary tale for ambitious young chefs, but rather a sign of the times, as the shift from formal to casual dining makes its way from city to the ’burbs.
Of course you could reasonably argue that the suburbs have always done casual, but rarely did they do it well enough to tempt many of us away from our our own, closer-to-home ‘foccacia and Caesar salad’ cafes.
Now the winds of change are blowing as chefs, baristas and restaurateurs pack their knives, order pads and espresso machines and move where the rents are cheap and the kitchen life less stressful.
Whether Machin’s choice of location is madness or genius remains to be seen. Certainly he’s taken a risk with his first solo venture - a cafe smack in the middle of a large car park at the Jindalee Homemaker Centre. It certainly doesn’t make for inspiring views, but conversely the area is woefully under-represented with decent places to eat, despite an upwardly mobile (and increasingly young) population.
Machin is not the first to try this spot. Chef Craig McCabe ran The Soul Kitchen here for a couple of years, then transformed it into an Italian bakery before shutting up shop in 2008, citing staffing problems. Then it was taken over by a Persian restaurant, Meykadah.
Certainly Bare Bones will have to take a please-all approach with its location guaranteeing the patronage of everyone from tradies and home renovators to local ladies who lunch and playgroup mums.
According to Machin, the name reflects he and wife Jade’s (who works the floor) philosophy of keeping things simple. It’s a doctrine currently resonating with the public and serving many others chefs well.
I’m not sure what the original building’s purpose was, but the space has a greenhouse, cottagey feel that could perhaps have been made more of (a Jindalee version of Matt Moran’s Chiswick perhaps?) Instead the decor feels a bit cold with half-brick walls below bi-fold windows, tiled floors and white walls. There are chairs in happy, primary colours and brown paper tablecloths to add a bit of whimsy, but overall it doesn’t have the warm community feel that its name and menu suggest.
The breakfast menu is both comprehensive and crowd-pleasing: Tex Mex sloppy joes, the Bare Bones breakfast burger (bacon eggs, lettuce tomato, guacamole, mayo, cheese and barbecue sauce) and the wonderfully over-the-top ‘rum rum as fast as you can’ - rum bananas and gingerbread hotcakes with maple and cookie dough ice-cream. There’s also house-made croissants, pastries and Toby’s Estate Coffee.
The shortish lunch menu offers sandwiches in a New York meets Miami via Essex mash-up; door-stop sandwiches, ‘fish finger’ sandwiches, Reuben and a ‘Cuban’ with spiced chipotle pulled pork, tomato salsa, cheddar and guacamole.
This is is supplemented by seasonally appropriate daily specials; braised beef cheeks with mash, a hefty burrito with a lip-tingling, spiced mince and a silky cauliflower veloute garnished with crisp fried sage leaves and chunky cheese toastie croutons.
A not-so-humble fish pie reveals Machin’s fine dining roots, both in taste and presentation. The base is made from a thin shortcrust, inside chunks of blue eye, and and finely chopped greens with julienned fennel are bathed in a good stock-based creamy sauce. More texture comes with a buttery puff pastry lid and a large quenelle of equally butter-laden silky mash.
Desserts tend towards the comfort food staples like apple crumble or chocolate fondant. Portions are generous and filling and the menu is very well priced - you’d be hard pressed to find a $15 main of this calibre in the city. Machin says that in coming weeks they’ll also be offering a changing range of take-home meals, while a liquor licence is in the offing.
Bare Bones has only been open a couple of weeks, but locals and cross-town food lovers seem to be embracing it. Sure, Machin’s name is a drawcard, but the food has to stand up to scrutiny and be consistent. With its silver-spoon parentage, the unlikely-situated Bare Bones certainly has a start to life.