Josie Bones | The Everleigh
There’s only one reason why I wanted to visit Josie Bones, and it’s these door handles. They seemed to cry out at me “Offal. Fat. Skin. Gristle and Meat Meat Meat dishes…. All here! Come On In!”
Josie Bones was part of cousin trouble’s to-eat list because from what she read, she liked the concept. I went ahead and arranged a dinner here, this time with Lachy and partner joining us for the discovery. The restaurant sits on the up-and-coming stretch of Smith St, close to Boire, Huxtaburger and Easy Tiger. All these places are on my wishlist.
But in my usual bumbly fatbooesque fashion, I made no research about Josie Bones whatsoever. I think we were pretty much halfway through our meal before it dawned on me that this bar’s focus is on its enormous range of craft beers, with food taking the sidelines as an accompanying grazing menu. My bad!
So we came here with a divergent intent: to taste the food rather than sample oodles of beer! I now feel a little embarrassed that I did not even note down what beers we ordered and how they tasted…
The bar’s got an edgy, masculine atmosphere, featuring lots of timber, primary reds, and distressed walls. Great for after work drinks, and for a beer fan like myself, it could even be a little slice of heaven! I liked the vibe here. A gigantic painting of a headless skinned pig behind the bar, against a wall of charcoal bricks, was what conveyed that meat-focussed, eat-the-whole-animal feel that got stuck in my head whenever I thought of this place.
While I was busy running around taking pictures, cousin trouble spent a number of minutes with our waiter searching for recommendations with what to order. I liked how our dining group had our tasks so nicely delegated. Trouble and Lachy made the ordering decisions while Geek Hubby and I did our boy-talk and played with our cameras… discussing ISO’s, shutter speeds and F-stops. I also think the waiter that trouble consulted with was actually the restaurant owner, an ex-masterchef contestant, because I later spotted a book with his face on the cover sitting on a shelf!
Rillettes with toasted sourdough 12
We started with a trout and spanner crab rillette, which I suppose was a creative take on traditional meat-based rillettes. Nice concept, and they tasted okay.
Padron peppers 6
I liked how fresh these salt-encrusted grilled peppers tasted. However, none of them were particularly hot.
Crispy beer marinated quail with pickled quail egg 9
We were less keen about the beer-battered deep-fried quail. Lachy thought the flesh was on the dry side, and the pickled egg did not excite.
Tempura Zucchini Flowers stuffed with smoked eel and prawn, with rockmelon and smoked beer jelly 18
Beetroot carpaccio with grilled haloumi, smoked almonds and pickled beetroot stems 14
While the stuffed zucchini flowers were good, I thought there were a lot of odd things going on in that dish, making for unusual combinations that sounded interesting, but did not taste endearing. The smoked beer jelly also gave the dish a bitter bite that I wasn’t too fond of.
On the bright side, the beetroot carpaccio was a great dish. There was a delicious counterpoint between the beetroot’s real sweetness and the almost ham-like slivers of haloumi, augmented by the earthy creaminess of almonds. Lachy thought the haloumi was overcooked though.
Masterstock pigs trotter spring roll with lychee salad 13
Slow cooked pork belly with pickled peach and sauce soubise 23
These two dishes were rather odd. I think if you’re going to use pigs trotters as an ingredient, you might as well show us the actual trotter instead of covering it up in a spring roll. As it was, tasting it I did not know it was trotter until I referred to the menu. The lychee salad had strong punchy flavours of lemongrass, lychee and green mango, but I did not understand how or why those flavours paired with the spring roll.
The pork belly also paired rather oddly with the pickled peach. I guess it’s just my palate, which can be finicky when people try to pair savoury meats with sweet fruit, it needs to be done sensibly.
Grilled cuttlefish with salsa rosso, basil and pate brik 15
Again another odd combination. I ate it curiously, but without gusto. Lachy says the tomatoes in the salsa rosso tasted very rich in flavour because they were infused in a certain way.
Grilled asparagus with crumbed poached egg and cider hollandaise 16
Heirloom tomatoes with local Fiore di Burrata, pickled shallots and basil 15
Most of this meal was eaten with a furrow in my brow. The grilled asparagus was another bizarre dish. It tasted quite salty and the eggs were quite firm and overcooked from the crumbing process. The scatter of wafers also had an odd cuminy taste to them, which did not go well with the other components.
All that said, our final savoury dish, the heirloom tomatoes, was Lachy’s winning dish for the night, he loved the burrata cheese in particular. I found the dish okay, maybe the previous run of odd dishes and combinations made it difficult for me to enjoy even a good dish.
All the same, we still had to try some of the dessert menu! :D
Fruit Beeramisu with honeycomb and creme fraiche sorbet 14
Again, this was another odd dish. Gosh, I’ve never used the word ‘odd’ in a blog post this many times! It tasted more like a trifle… fruity and jam-like, and I could not really detect the hints of beer that’s meant to be in there.
Saint Vernier Aux Truffes 50g 13
Washed rind truffled cow’s milk cheese from the Comte region in France
But we ended with a winning dessert dish, Lachy and Geek Hubby loved this. If you think about it, this dish worked because the ingredients can’t be messed around with.
To sum it up, I’d look at Josie Bones as a great place to go for drinks, beers to be exact. It’s got a good atmosphere. And if you’re peckish, have a nibble from the grazing menu.
Most of the dishes were a bit weird, to put it politely. Cousin Trouble mentioned how the dishes would start and stop, without an actual flow that made sense. I must say that the dishes also didn’t come across as all that meat or offal-focussed like I was expecting either. From reading Urbanspoon reviews, I sense there are many who really like the style of cooking here. But I personally think the menu would fare better if they kept things simpler. But that’s just my personal opinion.
Let’s now continue into a place with ‘mood’. I believe this is my first bar/drinks type post. I really wanted to put it in because I thought it was quite an experience. I’m pretty much a boring, home-oriented kinda guy. I’d normally go home after dinners, with the occasional dessert stopover. Bar culture in Melbourne has hardly been scratched by myself, so The Everleigh was an exception.
Lachy and partner headed home after Josie Bones while I herded Trouble & Co. down the road to check out The Everleigh. We struggled with finding the entrance because there were no signages at all, and I was relying purely on that pulsating blue dot on my iPhone’s GoogleMap.
Once we entered and were seated, I thought we’d gone into a time warp. I just wanted to sit there because it felt so nice to just be sitting there…
…in our quiet, enclosed booth… shrouded in darkness… a small lamp on our mirrored table to read the menu… old music, cocktails from the past…
and a glimmer of wet streetlights from the slatted windows, casting melancholic shadows across the floor.
I don’t know what drinks we had because I did not intend to blog about this place then. But from the general feel from my companions, I think they liked their drinks and were enjoying the experience as much as I was. Trouble tells me this place reminded her of those bars from the Prohibition Era in America, where everything was illegal. Even the bargirl who served us was dressed historically as if she was plucked out from the past and placed here.
We were still a little peckish and went for more nibbles here. It was very hard to see what we were eating in that incredibly dim lighting, but this shared charcuterie board was quite delectable. We had a bit of a debate about what type of pickles were served, but I don’t remember any of the conclusions of that discussion!
Melbourne pulls at my heart in so many different ways. Just stumbling here, I found this quiet scene of an empty booth-seat by the window just… so heartachingly beautiful. Because of this, I left The Everleigh in a deep, thoughtful mood…