What could be better than a beautiful meal with a beautiful view? Manly Wine is the latest offering from the Gazebo group, on South Steyne just metres from the beach. It’s our first venue on the other side of the harbour and our fourth venue to open since I started working there 18 months ago! Manly has all the quirky qualities that Gazebo is known for with a retro seaside twist. Working on their artwork was truly a lot of fun. With some lovely ladies in tow, we headed over the bridge.
Greeted by a peacock suspended from the ceiling, some pink flamingos, and the restaurant’s lovely staff, we were shown to our table, which several people commented was the best seat in the house (someone must like me down there). We started with a jug of lovely Rosé sangria, which was absolutely perfect for such a nice summery night. Delicately flavoured with crème de fraise liqueur, bianco Italian vermouth, lemonade, strawberry and lemon, it was delicious and refreshing, perhaps going down a little too easily!
We were quite hungry by the time our share plates arrived, and being so close to the water we subconsciously gravitated to the seafood offerings. It’s now that I’ll confess, up until a year or so ago I wasn’t a fan of seafood, but I’m slowly broadening my horizons and trying new things. However I’m not quite up to oysters yet, but the girls loved them. They were wonderfully fresh, served with a shiraz vinaigrette, or simply a squeeze of lemon.
A dish I’d seen on the Gazebo Wine Garden menu and had wanted to try for a while was the Crispy Squid with mint, coriander and cucumber salad. The squid was crispy on the outside yet still wonderfully tender and was perfectly balanced with the freshness and crunch of the cucumber. The squid is a little on the salty side but nicely balanced when you try a little of everything in the one mouthful.
An unexpected favourite for me was the Kingfish Ceviche served with a lemon and ginger spritz and crunchy edamame. It was presented beautifully, and was the most incredible fresh fish I’ve tasted in a while. The crunch from the edamame was perfect and I kept going back for more.
The Italian cold meat plate was another great dish to share, and generous in size. It featured some gorgeous prosciutto and salami, but my favourite part though, was the quince jam, which was delicious with just about everything (especially shoestring fries!)
The mains took a while to come out, which was good for digestion but bad for photos. By that time the sun had set and the restaurant is typically quite dark inside. Steph ordered the Soft Leek and Blistered Tomato tart with baby herbs, pesto and goat’s cheese. It was a classic combination of flavours with interesting textures, and pretty too.
Denea picked the Char-grilled chicken with king prawn and avocado salad and lime & chilli dressing, pilled high into a tower. Now this is my kind of salad – hearty and yet still beautiful and fresh. The chicken was perhaps a tiny bit dry.
Karen went with seafood, of course and decided on the Grilled Ocean Trout with potato galette, blushed tomatoes & zucchini tagliatelle. The fish was cooked perfectly, but the plating of this was a little clumsy compared to the other dishes, and my photo doesn’t really do it justice.
And I decided on the Beer Battered Barra with mushy peas, crinkle cut fries and tartare sauce. I absolutely love the presentation of this dish. It’s so fun and unique, with the hilarious retro newspaper cone and deep fryer basket. It’s a big call, but I think this might be the best fish and chips I’ve tried in Sydney – the barramundi was so crunchy on the outside with a delicious beer batter that wasn’t oily or gluggy in the slightest. I have a huge love for crinkle cut chips, and you can never go wrong with mushy peas. My only complaint was that the portion was huge and I didn’t even come close to finishing it all!
Manly Wine is a great venue in a fabulous location. It’s spacious without seeming overly large, and would be just perfect for lunch before or after a trip to the beach, or to watch the sun set with your special someone and a glass of wine. I think the food is great for the medium price range (the most expensive main is $25) although it would be great to see a bit more difference between the menus of the three Gazebos, because they’re all very similar. The service was great and it was nice to see a few familiar faces. And as usual, I want to transport the quirky, mismatched furniture straight into my living room. I had a really great night with some of my favourite girls, and I’m looking forward to heading back to the beach again soon!
Manly Wine 8-13 South Steyne Manly