03 March 2009

The Pony Club

As you enter the surrounds of "The Pony Club" situated at 620 Beaufort Street, Mount Lawley, you are immediately struck by how right they have got the decor - the mix of rich striped fabrics and minimalist furniture works surprisingly well with the OTT chandeliers and traditional architectural features of this period building. Given that the Brains and BOOTO spend somewhere in the region of 10% of their annual taxable income on interior design and decorating magazines, you can imagine that, coupled with the oh so right level of lighting for those who regularly "over do it", the Pony Club started ticking their boxes right from the get go.

Seated by a rather familiar looking waiter (the Brains and BOOTO may have completely overstayed their welcome, drinking well past closing time a couple of years ago, but that is another story entirely..), we were given menus, had our water glasses poured and drink orders taken promptly. The Sponge and Deliberator (never ones to stick to the rules) ordered margaritas. Thankfully, the Brains and BOOTO stuck to the theme and went for a jug of Sangria.

Turning to the menus, it was interesting to note the heading "The Pony Club a little taste of Spain using the fresh ingredients of Australia". Pulses began to race. The Deliberator, Sponge and BOOTO had eaten and drank their way around Spain in the pre-Brains and Stinky eras. Thoughts of whitebait, chorizo, croquetas and patatas bravas sent the saliva glands into overdrive. But alas as our eyes travelled down the Spanish (with helpful English translations) menu, we were saddened to note the lack of simple traditional tapas dishes. As those smiles turned upside down however, the drinks arrived and as often happens when the Bloggers meet anything alcoholic, it was smiles all round again. Even the overwhelming strange taste of cloves in the Sangria (something never before experienced by BOOTO - a well seasoned Sangria consumer), could not deter us.

And so the fun began.............

We ordered copious amounts of food (at times helpfully directed by the wait staff) and sometimes the same dish twice. And whilst the Sponge is loathe to stray far from his favourite staple of squid, dishes devoured by the Bloggers included:

pulpo abobado marinated octopus with jarrah smoked tomatoes

el pan bollo in house baked multigrain rolls (a ridiculously expensive 3.50 each!)

crespones de calabaza pumpkin crepes with brown sage butter

(The conversation at this stage went something like...
BOOTO: better than sex
Sponge: WHAT?
Deliberator: Oh BOOTO, you need to get yourself a real man
Brains: What? Like you? Huh!
BOOTO: Does anyone mind if I lick the plate?)

la carne crudo wagyu eye fillet with sangria jelly & baby cress
albondigas venison pork duck meatballs

abalone empanadas Albany abalone pies with cherry tomato salsa (second only to the pumpkin crepes because we had to endure the Deliberator professing his sublime skills as an abalone fisherman during this dish)

salmon curado Mt Cook blood orange cured salmon with baby chicory and broad beans
trucha arcoiris smoked Manjimup rainbow trout with artichoke hearts and citrus foam ( the presentation on this dish made it almost too pretty to eat. But eat we did).

plancha calameres grilled chilli squid with tomato and aioli (well we had to have it in order to shut the Sponge up)

pastelillos de chorizo de carne de venado venison chorizo and quail egg tartlets with mojo pico (had to order this - it was the only dish featuring chorizo - but please don't ask us what mojo pico is).

Phew - looking back on it, we're almost ashamed to release this review, lest we become the subject of the latest biased obesity study featured on Today Tonight.

It must be noted that as the meal progressed, the Sponge and Deliberator's penchant for margaritas subsided and soon not even the Brains could be enthusiastic at the Sangria that contained far too many shades of mulled wine to be drank at length. So it was to the beer and wine list which was ample, but pricey.

The Bloggers do so wish we could comment on the Postres (desserts) offered by the Pony Club, however we're sure you'll understand that in endeavouring to bring to you a substantial review of the Pony Club's tapas menu, we were far to stuffed to try dessert. Besides which, Stinky was being babysat and the Deliberator and Brains' "Balcony of Broken Dreams", complete with booze fridge beckoned...................

In summary:

Service: Friendly, guiding us well as to the better dishes to order. However, it was not quite as super slick and all knowing as the service we've had at Duende, which we think is a reasonable comparison in terms of both price and dining style.

Food: If you're after traditional style Spanish tapas, then continue your search elsewhere. However, the food is fresh, different and will take you out of your comfort zone.

Ambience: Pretty perfect, although as with all restaurants with floorboards, the acoustics can become a bit much when full.

Highlight: The pumpkin crepes.

Lowlight: Sangria (and for BOOTO waking up to Stinky at 6am after a night on the Balcony of Broken Dreams).

Rating: 3.5 abalone empanadas out of 5

Will we be back: Maybe if someone organises a dinner there. We don't have too much to complain of, but our overall impression of The Pony Club is just a an unexciting good. It's a bit like a "nice" boy. He's probably not going to get a second date unless you're desperate, let alone become your boyfriend. It's also crazy expensive when you have 4 diners with enormous appetites.

Details: The Pony Club is a hop, skip and a jump from the Walcott Street intersection (city side) and is fully licensed, although do have BYO nights on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The tapas dishes soon add up and the bill came to approximately $100 per head. Bookings came be made on (08) 9228 8801.

Pony Club on Urbanspoon