Widely regarded as the pioneers of the wood fire grill in Sydney, Pony offers an honest flavour driven menu showcasing Australian produce and a carefully crafted boutique selection of wines with a cheeky cocktail list. At the heart of the kitchen is a signature Argentinean wood fire grill and a contemporary modern Australian menu featuring the finest cuts of meat, freshest seafood and an array of shared and larger plates.
Our executive chef, Neil Nolan's, life long passion for food is in the blood he believes. “My great-grandmother was head chef at a big hotel in County Wexford, Ireland where I grew up, very unusual at the time”. Seeing the likes of Marco Pierre White on TV and the exposure to the possibilities of different cuisines sent him down the same culinary road. “plus I was sick of eating bacon and cabbage” he jokes.
The urge to travel and develop as a chef led to the toss of a coin nearly 20 years ago which brought him to Australia. Since then Neil has worked in kitchens across the country, from the Great Barrier Reef to Tasmania. At 23, he became the Executive Chef at Cradle Mountain Lodge and worked two years as a private chef in Blackheath, Blue Mountains before starting with Pony Dining when it opened in 2006. “Pony was one of the first Sydney restaurants to cook over wood and now, I would never want to cook with any other medium,” says Chef Neil. “The wood fire grill is at the heart of everything we do in the kitchen”. Another aspect of the Pony kitchen Neil loves is it’s openness. “For the guests to be able to see the kitchen in full flow, and that I can have a chat to the people we’re cooking for makes it that much more rewarding”.
Pony Dining is located in Sydney's oldest laneway within the historic and bustling dining precinct of The Rocks. Situated on the corner of Argyle Street and Kendall Lane, Pony Dining was originally a former bond warehouse. Restaurant designer, Michael McCann, transformed the historic building into the stunning dining space it is today. The restaurant features a large open kitchen with a pony hide clad counter, 10 meter long dining table on the outdoor deck, an intimate lounge for pre-dinner drinks, heritage brick walls, and commissioned woven art hangings - making this space a truly unique dining destination.
Our restaurant manager, Anne-Marie Jordan, started at Pony in 2009 and enjoys meeting different people every day, from all over the globe, as well as maintaining her good relationships with loyal regulars and locals from The Rocks. “Our clientele is varied which keeps my job interesting. I love witnessing work functions that start off quite stiff and formal, and by the end there’s a wonderful wine fuelled camaraderie around the table. But my favourite is seeing friendships strike up when people get chatting to those sitting next to them on the communal table, and what was maybe 3 separate couples end up all in conversation, it makes a great atmosphere” says Annie. Last but not least, Annie enjoys the team she works with, “we are more like family, when it’s a small team you need to get on with the people you spend most of your waking hours with and thankfully we generally do! ”