Let's just get it out of the way up front: there is no maple, bacon and pumpkin tart. That was two Pinbones ago when chefs Jemma Whiteman and Mike Eggert and maître d' Berri Eggert ran Sydney's most-talked-about brunch menu as part of their run at the Buzo premises on Jersey Road in Woollahra. In between, things took a turn for the Italian when they took over the kitchen at 10 William St last March for a four-month residency, but now in a sense they've come home, drawing on the skills chefs Whiteman and Eggert mastered in their years cooking at Billy Kwong to rock the woks at a pop-up eatery on Anzac Parade in Kensington.
Jemma Whiteman and Mike Eggert.
Truth be told, it might be the best cooking they've done under the Pinbone banner yet. It still has the seat-of-the-pants immediacy of their earlier outings, but the flavours and textures feel like they're delivered with a surer hand. Raw prawns dressed with a Sichuan-spiced oil, for instance, find a surprisingly fitting textural foil in buttered white bread, like prawn toast sans toasting.
Raw prawns with Sichuan oil, butter, bread and seaweed.
There's more hands-on fun with lettuce cups of kangaroo tataki with shiso and mushrooms, more clever plays of texture in stir-fried strands of potato and bean sprouts dressed with an egg yolk, and jolts of flavour in gooey eggplant, sweet and sambal-spicy. Dried longans bring contrast to a deeply savoury arrangement of pork ribs sauced with black bean, while butter laden with furikake, the Japanese rice-seasoning of seaweed, salt and sugar sprinkles, brings the glutamate-good times to a sirloin steak.
Good Luck Pinbone.
A word on the décor: there isn't any. Well, not much, anyway. These guys scraped out the fittings from the previous restaurant tenant (Sushi Tengoku) and moved right in. The floor is carpeted, the napkins are paper, and the chairs wouldn't look out of place in a demountable classroom. Bookings aren't taken, there's no wine list, and dessert is limited to frozen fruit pops.
Frozen fruit pops.
But whatever it lacks in decorative flourishes and amenities it reclaims in conviviality, originality and the laid-back charm on the floor. This is not a restaurant conceived by focus group or mood board, but by recklessness and a piratical spirit. Everyone who works here, front and back of house, has a stake in it, so you know you're going to be served by people who give a damn.
Pickles, peanuts and chilli sauces.
The take-home is that Good Luck Pinbone is fun, rowdy, very basic in its fit-out, and very well priced. It's not licensed, but welcomes BYO with a passion. Yes, folks, it's that unicorn of Sydney dining: a place that serves groups well, BYOs, doesn't have fluorescent lighting, and sells food you want to eat. Right in time for Christmas, too.
Could that signature brunch tart reappear some day soon in a more Chinese form? Bacon stir-fried with pumpkin and maple syrup, perhaps? This is Pinbone. Anything is possible.
Good Luck Pinbone, 121 Anzac Pde, Kensington, pinbone.com.au. Open dinner Thu-Sat 6pm-11pm, lunch Sun noon-5pm. Smaller dishes $8-$18, larger dishes $26-$32.