December 8th, 2010 by Crafty Pint
The TV shows were fun, but for Chris Badenoch the real thing starts today. Alongside fellow Masterchef contestant Julia Jenkins, he will open the doors of Josie Bones – the beer-centric restaurant in Collingwood’s Smith Street that’s been his long held goal – to the public for the first time this evening. Over four months, a venue previously known for spag ‘n’ drag nights has been completely gutted and rebuilt as a stripped back, industrial-meets-rustic temple to good beer and food that follows his “entire beast” philosophy.
“It’s really exciting,” he says, standing beneath the attention-grabbing mural of a skinned, headless rabbit that hangs above the imposing bar. “It was funny having people in here for the first time [for a book launch on Monday evening] – really weird at first. Having the place full you think, ‘Oh my God, it’s real!’, but after that first ten minutes of shock we just settled in, got drinking and had a really nice time.”
Despite its relatively small size â it will seat around 80 – it feels pretty cavernous, with high ceilings and walls mostly painted black or stripped back to the brickwork. The industrial aircon unit and light fittings based on the neck of Chimay bottles that hang overhead contribute to the overall feel, while seating is either along the lengthy bar, at bar height booths or a communal table at the rear – the only table that can be booked.
More importantly: the beer. Awesome. The eight fridge doors underneath the bar are already lined with around 130 of the world’s best beers – plus around 30 “cellar” specials. A quick glance along them indicates the “research” they’ve done with beer manager James Greenfield has not been in vain: an excellent selection of Aussie craft beers plus favourites and rarities from across the globe. As an indication, the eight taps at launch are Holgate’s Brick Kiln Dark Wheat Beer, Kooinda Pale Ale, Burleigh Brewing’s Black Giraffe Coffee Lager, Hargreaves Hill ESB, Weihanstephan Hefeweizen, Chimay White, Wychwood Hobgoblin and BrewDog’s Trashy Blonde. All eight will be rotated.
On top of this, there are monthly beer flights, the first of which takes drinkers from Skalak’s Czech Pilsner through Mountain Goat’s latest Rare Breed IPA to BrewDog’s awe-inspiring Tokyo â three samples for $16.
On the food front, Chris, Julia and head chef Robert Taylor have created a menu of intriguing small dishes that features enough to satisfy those keen to tuck into some hearty offal dishes alongside plenty to satisfy the cagier customer – and a handful of vegie offerings.
“I wanted to make sure there were vegetarian options that weren’t just side dishes,” says Julia. So expect to find dishes like pink fur apple potatoes with grilled Swiss raclette cheese or chicory and samphire with dijonaise dressing alongside the likes of their homemade black pudding or rolled pig’s head with sauce gribiche and crackling. Crafty can recommend the latter, having tried it alongside octopus and bone marrow cigars (and witnessed the next few pre-rolled pig’s heads awaiting diners in the kitchen fridge).
There’s something of a porcine theme throughout, in fact, with the skull of the first pig they rolled sat at the back of the bar and bronze trotters cast by a New Zealand sculptor forming the door handles. Elsewhere, a glittery bust of Jesus peeps out from one recess in the wall – expect to find the others filled with toy farm animals – while a charcuterie cabinet will soon be installed to hold their own smoked and cured meats.
- Josie Bones is at 98 Smith Street and will be open every evening except Tuesdays and for lunch on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. In 2011, the upstairs will be opened as a venue for functions, beer tastings and dinners.