When I think of Manly, I think of eating fish and chips by the beach, and soaking up the sun with an ice-cream in hand, trying to eat it all before it melts. I certainly didn’t think of American BBQ, but that’s all changed now that Papi Chulo is in town.
Part American grill and smokehouse, part South American cantina, Papi Chulo is definitely a people pleaser with its vast array of dishes ranging from BBQ meat platters to empanadas to even some Asian-inspired dishes like green mango salad. It’s location on Manly Wharf makes it perfect for idling the weekend away with some cocktails and a long lunch, while watching the boats drift by on the water.
We start off with a few snacks. The pea guacamole doesn’t sound particularly interesting on the menu but this is a damn good dish. The guacamole is smooth and creamy and the addition of peas adds a bit of sweetness. Crunchy tortilla chips are provided to scoop up the dip and it pretty much disappears in a flash.
The kingfish ceviche has tangy cubes of raw kingfish that has been lightly ‘cooked’ in lime juice, making each piece tangy but still retaining the texture of raw fish. There’s also some jalapeno in there for a spicy kick and pineapple pieces for a bit of sweetness. My favourite bits are the crispy corn kernels which have been deep fried and seasoned which add a nice crunch and textural interest.
There’s something about a burger that makes it so satisfying. It might be the soft fluffy bun, the juicy meat patty, or the melty, oozy cheese (cheese is a must!) – whatever it is, it always hits the spot. I’m always on the look out for a good burger, so when The Cheerleader (who also loves a good burger) told me about a burger place in Mosman, we headed there quick smart to check it out.
Upon looking at The Burger Shed’s menu, I thought it looked strangely familiar… and when I saw the truffle parmesan fries, it hit me that this was one of Justin North’s burger joints, and that the menu was similar to the one at Charlie and Co.
Not to worry though, as I do love Charlie and Co’s burgers, and there were enough differences between the menus to keep us interested. Like this watermelon and ginger crush, which had a lovely pink blush colour to it and was super refreshing.
Despite being called the Burger Shed, the menu also had some non-burger items like salads, tortilla wraps, desserts and corn! Queen Chu and I both love our corn so this BBQ corn with chilli salt butter was a must.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that the Oxford Tavern is a seedy pub, seeing as up until last year, the main drawcards were the topless waitresses, jelly wrestling and the “live hot girls”. But since the Drink ‘n’ Dine group’s revamp of the inner west pub, the pokies area has been changed to a beer garden, “jelly wrestling” now refers to a dessert on the menu, and instead of girls, you can now get “live hot BBQ”!
Live hot BBQ sounds like something right up my alley, so we went to check out The Oxford Tavern’s new Black Betty BBQ. It’s an impressive beast of an outdoor smoker that has been operating for the past couple of months, churning out smoked meats cooked low and slow on the weekends until sold out.
There’s a range of smoked goodies on the menu, generally sold by weight. You can also see the prepared meats in the glass cabinet at the counter, and they all look amazing. Executive Chef of the Drink ‘n’ Dine group, Jamie Thomas, is there to serve up the meat himself, and he slices up a little bit of everything for us to try.
We end up with a huge platter of meaty goodness featuring all the menu items on the standard Black Betty BBQ menu, as well as the specials for the day.
The smoked chicken is the only poultry item on the Black Betty menu, and it has an amazingly smoky flavour and is succulent and juicy.
Lately I’ve had some major burger cravings – probably because I don’t think a day goes by without a burger appearing on my instagram feed! I’d heard about the awesome burgers at Chur and I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to check it out. I mean look at that beauty of a pulled pork burger! The pork is tender and juicy from the house made BBQ sauce and the generous slathering of mayo and there’s some cabbage slaw there for crunch.
Yes you heard right… Buns AND Balls. Get your minds out of the gutter people – we’re talking burger buns and meatballs here! And that’s exactly what the new Buns & Balls in Potts Point offers – a selection of tasty meatballs and juicy burgers.
Of course before we get into the buns and balls, we have a couple of drinks. At Buns & Balls, they have freshly made juice cocktails and we choose to sample the pineapple, ginger beer, vodka and bitters one first. I’m not a huge fan of ginger but thankfully this isn’t too gingery, and it’s also not tooth-achingly sweet because of the acidity from the pineapple juice. The watermelon, lime and vodka cocktail is equally as refreshing and is perfect for the upcoming warm summer nights.
We tried a selection of the meatballs on offer, as well as some of the spicy Louisiana wings. I enjoyed the barramundi croquettes with tartare sauce which reminded me a little bit of fish fingers. The crispy tofu balls were bathed in the deep fryer for a nice crispy outside and firm tofu on the inside. Both the chicken meatballs and wings used the same hotsauce and blue cheese dipping sauce, so they tasted very similar, though I preferred the wings to the chicken meatballs. The beef and pork meatballs with napoletana sauce and grated cheese on top were by far my favourite, reminding me of a classic meatball made by an Italian nonna!