Once upon a time, multi-unit restaurants were the domain of the fast food companies but today even celebrity chefs are expanding.
Matt Moran (Aria) and Luke Nguyen (Fat Noodle) are two from Sydney who have brought their recipe for success to Brisbane as has Stokehouse from Melbourne. The newest offshoot from the southern states is Pony.
Like it’s Sydney sisters, Pony Brisbane is a sophisticated, sexy place with an impressive fit-out of curved steel ribbon ceilings, exposed brick, curved walls, concrete floors, contemporary furniture and an open-plan kitchen featuring a wood-fired grill and open coal pit rotisserie.
Pony comes from the well-established stable of the Kyprianou family together with award-winning Brisbane-born chef Damian Heads – a previous winner of the Josephine Pignolet Best Young Chef Award. Damian, a regular on Network Ten’s Ready Steady Cook, trained at the Brisbane Hilton, before heading overseas then to Sydney. Now in Brisbane to open his third Pony, he is serving up unpretentious quality home-style comfort food with a Mediterranean influence.
Pony encourages sharing. Begin with a range of small sharing plates – grilled flatbread ($6.80) comes with a very tasty smoked eggplant and white bean dip. A stacked spinach tortilla ($8.80) is simple but delicious. Grilled slices of chorizo come with a tangy tomato and chilli jam ($9.60). We shared the six-hour “coal pit” lamb roast ($44) – tender slightly smoky barbecued lamb, teamed with a red wine jus ($5) and chips with roasted garlic aioli ($8).
For dessert we shared a couple of ice cream pops ($9) – burnt orange ice cream coated in white chocolate and white chocolate crackles on a stick and an excellent slightly deconstructed vanilla cheesecake ($14) served with berries and meringue.
Some long communal tables mean that you may be sharing a table, although there are plenty of seating options. The atmosphere is lively and loud with quick efficient service. There is a full cocktail bar with some “cocktail tasters” – small serves to share – as well as craft beers and a reasonable wine list with several good wines by the glass. If you don’t want a full meal you can sit at the bar and enjoy bar food including the small sharing plates plus sliders and an antipasto plate. Pony is honest, uncomplicated and fun for a good night out.