I’ll always have a soft spot for Enmore. Night Owl used to live there prior to us moving in together, and it served her well during her bartending gig at The Gretz, which was the sister bar to the infamous Hartsyard up the street towards Newtown Station. I still remember the absolute chaos that occurred when Gregory Llewellyn and Naomi Hart announced that they would be re-vamping the Hartsyard venue…and removing their fried chicken and poutine from the menu.
But Greg and Naomi had an answer to the hordes – a decision to flip The Gretz and turn it into Wish Bone – a venue specifically made for their fried chicken, poutine…and possibly infamous soft serves later on down the track. I was lucky enough to snare an invite along to the soft opening on a Friday evening, and Night Owl was curious to see how her last place of employment had been transformed.
The moodily-lit bar with its red-brown brick interior has been turned upside down, with the walls painted white and the lighting considerably brighter. The design is a joint effort with Greg and Naomi’s friends and creators Mighty Car Mods, Blair Joscelyne and Marty Mulholland, and seating is designed as high-table, small-booth style along one side of the wall, the bar along the other, and long communal tables down the centre.
There’s beer, wine, slushies and pre-batched cocktails – so the bottles of spirits under the fridges on the side confuse me a little. We plan on starting with a couple of the pre-batch cocktails and finishing with a vanilla shake with bourbon for dessert. I get a 2 Sexy with Gin, lemon thyme, watermelon shrub and Pampelle – a French grapefruit aperitif. It’s wonderfully refreshing and goes well with all the food we later order. Night Owl has a Fair Lady, a boozy take on an iced tea with bourbon, creme de peche, Southern tea and peach bitters.
The noticeboard menu is a little inconvenient as you have to keep craning your neck around tall people and looking up at it as you order from your table. It would probably work more effectively if you were ordering at the front prior to sitting down. There’s a bit of confusion with other people’s orders arriving at our section, but it’s opening night so to be expected. The food arrives speedily and we snap a few photos before digging in.
The “Birdy Sando” ($18) is one of the best fried chicken burgers I’ve ever had. With a steamed butter bun, Hartsyard chicken, lettuce, cheese, mayo, hot sauce and pickle, it’s easily compressible and a mouthful explosion of flavour and textures.
And did you even think you could come here without getting the fried chicken? It seems to be cheaper than when it was at Hartsyard (?), with two pieces priced at $10, four at $20, six for $30 and eight for $40. $5 a piece, essentially. It’s just as juicy as I remember, and there’s not just the Hartsyard hot sauce to go with it now (now re-branded as Wish Bone Hot Sauce), but also Smoked Maple, Unicorn Ranch and Cheryl’s Sauce (White BBQ).
I’m not so sure about the price of the hot sauce being $3 each as it’s quite a small dish, and used to be complimentary at Hartsyard. But it feels off to have the chicken without it.
Pickles ($5) are gherkins and dilly beans, and a welcome refreshing crunch from the deep-fried goodness.
Did you ever think you would see a vegetarian poutine? The JDM-style poutine is Japanese-inspired and comes with shiitake mushrooms, cheese curds, seaweed and sesame. It’s a much lighter option than the regular home-style meat-based poutine, and while very tasty it’s a little out of place on the menu as there’s nothing else that’s Asian-themed.
I insist we get the Creamed Corn with chipotle and green onion ($6), after my experience at Hartsyard 2.0, and it doesn’t disappoint.
At this stage I realise our order for biscuits with sausage gravy ($6 each) have gone missing, so I chase up after it even though I’m starting to struggle. I’m glad I checked up on it, because they were the best damn biscuits I’ve ever had!
They were new and improved from Hartsyard, and when I talked to Greg about it, he confirmed that he had changed the way he cooked them, baking them in moulds so they rose taller and were fluffier. Fluffy, buttery, and delicious – like a savoury scone on crack.
Meanwhile, our mate on the floor Paddy asks if we have tried the coleslaw, and when we say no, he rolls his eyes in exaggerated swooning fashion before rushing off to add it to our order. It’s a wonderfully light version of coleslaw with sauerkraut and “galaxy sauce”, lightly acidic and not overly creamy.
I can’t fit in the vanilla bourbon shake – to my regret – but acknowledge that I could probably try another cocktail. We order an Intergalactic Goat ($16) with Amaretto, sweet vermouth, chicory, soda and grapefruit, and a Headgasket ($17)- melon liqueur, green chartreuse, banana and lime. I don’t enjoy my Intergalactic Goat as it’s quite syrupy and heavy – not a great feeling after all the food I’ve had, so I swap with Night Owl and enjoy the Headgasket a bit more, however it’s still very much on the cloyingly sweet side.
Wishbone is designed to be a quick eat-in or takeout venue, not so much a place to linger in. A lot of the noise from diners bounces around the hard surfaces of the venue, so while it’s not the place for an intimate cosy date, it’s the perfect spot for a quick feed prior to catching a show at the Enmore Theatre or getting up to any other shenanigans later on in the evening.
It will be hard to not come by for a quick bite of the succulent burger, particularly if they bring the soft serve back! I’m interested to see how Wish Bone goes over the next year.
125 Enmore Road
Enmore NSW 2042
(02) 8065 5729