68 Little Collins St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
It’s not that I don’t like alcohol; I mean I don’t particularly like the alcoholic part of alcohol, but I would never say no to a good cider, umeshu, or affogato. It’s a shame that my body (or rather, the alcohol dehydrogenase in my body) is a lazy buttock and I can rarely get through a single drink without glowing like a tomato. On a bad day I can even get a full body alcohol rash and have trouble breathing; suffice to say that bars aren’t where you’ll usually find me.
However, it is nice to see the slow emergence of bars that also serve food that isn’t just used as alcohol-sop. After all, if a restaurant can serve a full range of high quality alcohol, why can’t things work the other way around? Cookie and Colonel Tan’s spring immediately to mind, and even though I didn’t know this until after I picked up the menu, Boney is also run by the same people. That explained the slightly ramshackle appearance, live music most nights, and a menu offering more tantalising options than you could possible try in one visit.
|Jalapeno Donuts ($11.5)|
I’m not sure how Jalapeno Donuts ($11.5) work, but they definitely work. The donuts themselves are already mouth-watering – sweet yet savoury, and studded with chopped jalapenos, but they really become something when accompanied by warm maple butter, and a simple salsa of avocado and corn dressed with a squeeze of lemon. It’s not what the tastebuds expect, but they’re mesmerised.
|Mushroom Melts ($11.5)|
The Mushroom Melts ($11.5) on the other hand is exactly what the tastebuds expected. The whole grilled mushroom formed a pocket for the tallegio cheese melting over pine nut crumble. It was satisfyingly substantial, the equivalent of a vegetarian steak.
|Slow Baked Lamb Shoulder ($16.5)|
Similarly sustaining was the Slow Baked Lamb Shoulder ($16.5), sitting on a bed of couscous and chickpeas. The pieces of lamb were slow-cooked until the flavour seeped into the plump pearls of couscous, and the wilted spinach and parsley materialised in occasional mouthfuls to share their freshness with the stew.
|Potato Skins ($7.5)|
Because I got to have my jalapeno donuts, Chris got to have the Potato Skins ($7.5) instead of the salad that I had wanted. And although not actually potato skins, the skins on these potatoes sure were crispy, and we got the added bonus of having a fluffy centre as well. These were more than good enough to have on their own, without the accompanying sour cream.
One thing I like the most about the cookie-colonel-tan’s-and-now-also-boney group is that the food is not only good, but also substantial. I had ordered with the intention of having dessert afterwards, but we ended up with potato skins, not stomach room, left over. As much as the faint stickiness on the tables and the occasional waft of stale alcohol doesn’t make for the most luxe of dining experiences, the food is more than good enough to make it all ok.
Rating: 14.5/20 – actual bar food, the good kind.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.