May the pork be with you
If you’re wondering if you will enjoy Collingwood’s newest venture, you should probably first question how much you like meat. If you answered “a lot” through a mouthful of bacon, then at least you’ll be comfortable opening the door by the bronze pig-trotters that serve as handles at Josie Bones.
It’s the budding venture of ex-MasterChef contestants Chris Badenoch and Julia Jenkins, and if the entrance proves a little confronting, then you may be a touch too tender for the meaty, beer-filled fantasia that lies within.
The concept is matching fine beer with seasonal food, and their weapons of choice are head chef Robert Taylor (Melbourne Yacht Club), a meat-centric small plate menu and more beers than you can poke a load of sticks at.
Yes, they do serve novelty bigger-than-your-head beers (including three-litre bottles of Chimay), but the focus here is more on appreciation than mass consumption.
Rare drops abound, some of which are available on tap, and plans are afoot to hold educational events and beer-matched feasts. The drinks list is encyclopaedic (and does include wine), but if it’s all too bamboozling, seasoned staff are ready and willing to provide recommendations.
Try the Hitachino ($12 on tap), a Japanese white ale brewed with coriander and orange. It’s bright and energetic and would suit a dish like the oh-my octopus and melting bone marrow cigars in crisp filo ($14).
The food, as you can probably gather from the four-metre wide photo of a skinned rabbit on the wall, is of the protein persuasion, and the signature dish is rolled pig’s head. Once boned, the slab of meat is rolled, steamed, chilled and sliced before being pan-fried to order. The result is a crisp round of intensely rich meat, like pork belly cooked in duck fat. Try it – it will leave you feeling much closer to death, but far happier about life. Pair this with sides that can cut through the fat attack such as the acid-sweet salsa rossa salad of roasted tomatoes and peppers with compressed pastry flakes.
A cool $60–$70 a head should see you well fed and watered for dinner, but we also see this being a very popular spot for a Sunday session and casual catch up venue. It’s unclear at the moment whether it’s a bar with great snacks, or a restaurant with a great bar, but either way, both sides are kicking goals. That’ll do, pig.