November 11th, 2010 by Crafty Pint
It’s a journey that’s taken in Masterchef, Iron Chef, the Beer Masons and scurrilous tabloid column inches, but one that’s finally nearing its end. The body of the bar is in place, the industrial aircon unit’s about to be bolted to the ceiling, the kitchen’s sparkly and new and â crucially â the beer list is taking shape, as evidenced by the mass of empty sample bottles gathered in one corner. All of which means that Josie Bones, the beer-centric, “nose-to-tail” restaurant that’s been the long held dream of Chris Badenoch is only weeks away from opening.
The former home of Templar Bar and its weekly Spag ‘n’ Drag shows has undergone a complete refit, literally stripped back to bare bones before being reshaped by Chris, partner and fellow Masterchef contestant Julia Jenkins and their team into something where meat of a very different kind will be on display. It’s the latest addition to the strip of quality restaurants and bars at the “Paris end” of Collingwood’s Smith Street that’s in danger of becoming the go to place in the city. The likes of Gigi Baba, Monsieur Truffe, Wood Spoon and Boire are near neighbours and bars including Yah Yah’s, Grumpy’s Green and the Grace Darling are a mere stumble away.
With an imposing bar finished in rubber, steel and heavy duty timber lining one wall, bar height tables and chairs protruding from the other, a communal table at the rear and a combination of painted and bare brick walls, giant prints lifted from Chris’s book The Entire Beast, exposed iron girders and low-hanging ceramic lights – based on the neck of Chimay bottles – it certainly promises to create the sort of atmosphere appropriate for tucking into duck neck sausages and rolled pig cheek while sampling the best beers the world has to offer.
“Iron Chef was really one long advert for Josie Bones,” says Chris. “This is what I’ve been working towards since I started cooking with beer five or six years ago. Food and beer has a long history together yet in Australia we drink beer but don’t have a beer drinking culture. It would be my dream if someone walked in and said, ‘I feel like a Saison. What have you got?’ just like people do when choosing a wine [by grape variety].”
It’s something that will be possible at Josie Bones as the beer list – probably around 140 long – will have a number of beers within each style, as well as some uncategorisables, to choose from. The bar features eight taps, which will all be rotated, plus a huge amount of fridge space. There will also be a small, but carefully selected, list of wines and spirits.
“It’s about having a range that goes from approachable to challenging and everything in between,” says Chris. “We’re not looking to get in beers just for us to drink here, but interesting beers for people wanting to graduate from Carlton Draught. We’re expecting to get a diverse range of people so it’s the whole education thing. You see the light go on: people see it does taste better and become aware of their taste buds.”
The menu is being finalised – a team effort between Chris, Julia and their head chef – and will feature small plates designed for sharing. A fair amount of the menu will be suitable for vegetarians – think beer-braised baby leeks – alongside the kind of dishes familiar to those who have followed his adventures on TV, all either using beer or designed to match well with it.
Beer manager James Greenfield says: “We’re aiming to have six to eight beers of each style with a mix of local and imported. We’d love for everyone to have a life-changing experience here, but even if they walk away with a different experience to what they expected then the impact will be the same – the raising of awareness and consciousness of what can be done with beer.”
All being well, Josie Bones will open in the first week of December. It will be open every evening except Tuesdays and for lunch on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with a no booking policy except for the 12-seat communal table at the rear. Early in 2011, the upstairs will be opened as a venue for functions, beer tastings and dinners.