In my books, Sydney’s all about the sun, the sea and a good swig from a glass. That’s what I was expecting anyway, a bit under 14 years ago when I first reached these eastern shores. So far, I’ve been pretty happy – and now, I’m even happier!
Thanks to an unintentional tip-off from a couple of friends of ours – Peter and Melissa – we found ourselves in Manly; the suburb on the northern jaws of the entrance to Sydney Harbour.
At the very southern end of Manly beach and under the Sebel Manly Beach Hotel is Manly Wine. Being on the southern end away from the main corso, you won’t be as bothered by tourists here.
Even so, it’s no one-off: Manly Wine is part of something much bigger (the Winery – Surry Hills, Bugalow 8 – King St Warf, The Rook – York St rooftop) but it’s got nothing but a local vibe in and out.
We were only there to take a photo for our friends, who now live back in the States and who miss the place. Before we knew it, we found ourselves sitting outside, swirling glasses of chilly whites and staring at the blue Pacific surf.
No, we didn’t mind. And when our food came, we minded even less. Mrs Romance’s chicken avocado salad was so full of chicken, it was almost like a chicken in a basket… just tasty. My Cheeseburger was also plentiful and delicious. The accompanying chips looked a bit pale – a bit like the backpackers on the beach we were looking at – but they were really very tasty. The chips, that is.
Our wine – specials from the enormous chalk board behind the bar – was perfect. Mrs R’s pinot grigio was dry, zingy and grassy. My riesling was refreshing but fuller-bodied than the pinot. The hot day was perfect for the white wine and our street-side seating.
Mind you, inside looked comfortable too. There were lots of different spaces to sit inside – an element very common with Key Stone venues. And along the biggest wall holds a wine wrack that James Halliday would be impressed with.
The main area also plays host to a dining area or you can even hire out the giant bird cage – a circular-seated cushioned affair big enough to fit 20, on the left as you look in from the front door.
But whether you’re seated inside on the benches or you’ve scored a sought-after street-side table, you’ve got a good chance of great service, a high chance of great food and drink and a guaranteed great time in Manly.
Where are your top tips for a local’s perspective? Tell us about them in the comments below.