There’s heaps of cafes to choose from on any given weekend in Manly, but there’s only one with cute Swedish decor, sunny yellow coffee cups and legit Swedish food! Fika Swedish Kitchen in Manly is one of the few places serving Swedish food in Sydney. And yes, that does in include Swedish meatballs – but they’re a definitely a step up from the ones at Ikea! If you’re not feeling adventurous, they do have standard bacon and eggs and the like on the menu, but I’d recommend channelling your inner Swede and going for the open sandwiches (smörgåsen) and seafood dishes like salmon gravlax, pickled herring and caviar. There’s also a range of desserts and pastries to choose from including warm cinnamon buns and apple pies if you’re just after a sweet treat to go with your Swedish tea or filtered coffee.
TL;DR: Swedish food in a cute cafe setting Favourite dish: Toast Skagen – prawn, dill & lemon mayo mix with avocado, stacked on sourdough Would I return?: Yes, if I’m in the area
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 a new Mexican joint in town. Tucked away at the back of an arcade on the wharf side of Manly is Chica Bonita – a Mexican small bar and restaurant headed up in the kitchen by the awesome Lex. Wecheckedit out on a Friday night and it was totally packed by 6.30pm, with people spilling out into the arcade.
A round of drinks was definitely in order to celebrate the end of the week, and Chica Bonita’s bar certainly delivers. Coronas, margaritas (ginger, watermelon, and jalapeno and orange flavours), and a cinnamon and honey cocktail called the “Rim Job”. Make what you will of that ;)
Lex’s ceviche is served with a brown paper bag filled to the brim with crisp tortilla chips. The ling fish is zingy from the lime marinade, and has a nice firm texture. I could definitely do with a larger bowl of this all to myself!
I am an avid seafood lover. Fish, molluscs, crustaceans – I love them all! I never quite understood people who don’t like seafood because I find that well-prepared seafood is such a delight to eat. It can be fresh and briny with the flavours of the sea, or delicate with a subtle sweetness. A restaurant that specialises in seafood is bound to excel at preparing and cooking seafood well, and Garfish definitely didn’t disappoint.
We were seated in the private dining room in the Manly restaurant, which had lovely glass walls which would provide an excellent view of the ocean during the day. Tonight the table was set with multiple wine glasses and a menu that included lots of seafood, so I knew we were in for a treat. John Reid from Reidistribute was guest speaker for the night, and is one of Garfish’s food suppliers. Each course on the menu tonight was paired with a cheese supplied by Reidistribute, as well as a final cheese and wine tasting course designed by John to highlight some of his favourite cheeses.
The first course was a shellfish bisque with steamed milk, avruga caviar, and a gruyere crouton. The shellfish aroma hit us as soon as the bowls were placed in front of us, and it took a lot of self control to take photos before digging in! The bisque was smooth and creamy and packed full of shellfish flavour. The gruyere crouton was another highlight, a crunchy bread wafer with blistered, melted gruyere on top.
I don’t think there are too many restaurants in Sydney where you would find the banquette seating covered in zebra-print upholstery but since we’re dining at Out of Africa tonight, it seems highly appropriate. The restaurant, located near the wharf at Manly, is relatively quiet on a Sunday night save for a few couples dining and our rowdy table of 10. Since we have a large number, we have the option of getting the banquet menu but we decide to order a few dishes to share instead so we can try more things.
As with the zebra-print seating, the names of the dishes are also quite creative. We kick off the meal with the “Breathless” briouats which are spring-roll lookalikes but are made with filo pastry and filled with a spiced chicken and almond filling. The filo cigars are crisp on the outside with a chunky chicken filling and are very moreish. I find the saffron sauce a little too sweet but it provides a sticky counterpoint to the briouat.
The other entree that we share amongst us the spicy grilled calamari. It is presented on a bed of salad leaves and garnished with some grated carrot and spring onions. I prepare myself for some chilli burning but I find that it’s not really spicy at all, and some of us are a little disappointed in the lack of spice factor. The calamari still delicious though with a flavour-packed marinade and a slight charred taste from the grilling.