3 Jersey Road Woollahra, New South Wales 2025
For a while now, the term ''pop-up'' has been associated not just with temporary food and retail outlets, but with anything that is fun, creative and slightly eccentric. This pretty much sums up the spirit of Pinbone, even though the former pop-up collective now has a permanent home of its own.
The Woollahra eatery opened in November last year, as the brainchild of chefs Jemma Whiteman (ex-Three Blue Ducks, Billy Kwong), Mike Eggert (Duke, Billy Kwong) and front-of-house whiz Berri Eggert (Cafe Paci, Moncur Terrace). It occupies the old Buzo site, transforming the once moody trattoria into a bright, welcoming space that doubles as a culinary laboratory.
Pinbone is known for its tongue-in-cheek dinner menu, but we are keen to try the weekly Sunday brunch. This means there will be no grown-up fairy bread or chocolate crackle with liver parfait. Instead, we are treated to the chefs' favourite comfort foods.
The simpler menu attracts a more laid-back crowd. Eastern suburbs locals turn up in their sports caps and designer casuals, sharing tables with off-duty advertising executives and brunching couples.
It is the kind of place where you can order a side of kale with your vegan breakfast, or dig into a bacon-and-egg roll with smoky barbecue sauce. Burgers start flying out of the kitchen after noon. Fries are optional, but encouraged. There is a separate breakfast-dessert menu, too, featuring everything from a creamy pinenut and dulce de leche tart to the marginally less-illicit-sounding white chocolate and banana muffins.
But first, savouries. We order what seems to be a house favourite - the bacon, maple and pumpkin tart. Strips of thickly sliced bacon are caramelised and crunchy around the edges, generously lining the flaky homemade puff pastry. It is a riot of salty and sweet, with the whole dish tied together by a layer of mashed pumpkin that soaks up the flavour of the candied bacon.
Later, Mike Eggert tells me the tart was a happy accident. "It was the Saturday night before we started our first brunch service and we were like, holy crap, what are we going to make? We'd been playing with puff pastry and had some pumpkin left over from a staff meal, so we just kind of made the tart up."
Beneath the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants approach is a dedication to technique and precision. After all, the restaurant is named after the painstaking process of taking small bones out of fish.
"It's all about the really small details that happen behind the scenes and the values that go into our cooking process that no one really sees," explains Berri Eggert.
Take the fregola with creamed corn and poached egg. Served piping-hot with a sprinkle of chopped chives on top, the Sardinian couscous-like pasta is a delicious golden mess. It is earthy and unexpectedly flavoursome, thanks to the delicate stock made from kelp, roasted cobs and husks of corn.
Even the humble croque monsieur is lifted by a smoked cheese sauce - a clever match with the Barossa ham and Luxe Bakery bread.
Coffee nerds will be pleased with the nutty Blend 11 brew from The Little Marionette. A double espresso has good length and a lovely crema. There are daily juice specials ($6) for the health-conscious - though there is always the option to add a shot of vodka for another $6.
The staff are warm and knowledgeable and won't judge you for indulging. In fact, our waiter is reluctant to let us leave without trying a slice of the crumbly chocolate, quince and blackberry tart. He is right, of course. With the reasonable price tag, it makes sense to savour the full Pinbone experience - even if you know you'll be coming back for more.
THE PICKS FREGOLA WITH CREAMED CORN AND POACHED EGG; BACON, MAPLE AND PUMPKIN TART
THE COFFEE LITTLE MARIONETTE
THE LOOK STYLISH POP-UP CHARM
THE SERVICE WARM AND ATTENTIVE