THE PANTRY MANLY is a venue close to my heart and home. The building is an icon that has been in my life from beginning to present. I have used the facilities underneath it since probably before I could walk and the building upstairs has been many things in its ninety-eight years of existence. It is the closest venue in Manly to the surf being the ONLY venue on the beach side of North and South Steyne Road. So it was more than excitement when I was invited to visit from Wasamedia to review the food, I squealed a little bit.
THE PANTRY MANLY VENUE:
Manly’s famous “Beach House” was built in 1919 and for many years served as a tea house and change rooms for locals and tourists alike. In 1982 it was reborn as an information kiosk, and in 1997 underwent its final transformation to restaurant, remembered as Manly Ocean Beach House.
Opened in November 2010, and renamed, The Pantry Manly has continued the tradition of catering for Manly locals as well as international visitors who can sit back, relax and take in the infamous Manly vibe.
The venue sits high atop the public facilities at Manly Beach, opposite The Steyne. It is a beach shack of sorts with large glass sliding windows covering the beach side of the venue. They remain closed a lot of the time with beach wind and the like. However most of my weekend beach walks see the windows wide open and people enjoying their pancake stacks and bacon and eggs in the sun and salt air just off the sand. It is a beautiful venue and the view is incomparable. Inside is a lot of wood and tables spaced but quite close to each other. Their is a bar to one end along with the kitchen and the toilets to the other end.
It has a great vibe and at times feels more like you are dining in a friends giant dining room, with lots of people, as opposed to a delightful restaurant on the beach. It is quite laid back and the staff are young, friendly and of course, somewhat beachy. I got a nice surprise, our wait person for the evening was food blogger @rachaeleatith – she gave us all the tips and suggested one of the nicest wines I drank way too much of.
THE PANTRY MANLY DRINKS:
THE PANTRY MANLY drink game is top notch. They have appropriate cocktails one would expect on the beachfront and a few local Sydney bottled boutique beers. Their spirit selection is strong and their international wine list has a superb selection covering most varieties and regions. I kicked off with the (above) Mojito on the Beach – pineapple & passionfruit, Bacardi white rum, soda water and mint. I loved it and would have had many more if didn’t have to work the next day. I need to return purely for more garlic bread and this cocktail…. Black Forest Gateau Martini – Ironbark Crystallus vodka, Cherry brandy, Maraschino liqueur, Mozart Dark G>E> Massenez Creme de Cacao & Cream – DROOL. And their Espresso Martini sounds like I need it in my life.
I only drank the one wine and once Rachael recommended it I wanted no other. The Accuro Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina at $12 a glass is one I could spend a lot of money on. I have actually tracked it from an online seller and have a case joining the collection in the next few weeks.
THE PANTRY MANLY FOOD:
Due to their location plus the local and tourist patrons THE PANTRY MANLY is open seven days a week. Their breakfast game is good with delicious sounding standards and some fancy extras. From buttermilk pancakes with candied walnuts to wild mushroom and gruyere tarts, there is plenty to be liked and demolished on your plate.
Their lunch dinner game is impressive and also extensive. With a menu focused on fresh, local and seasonal produce, they offer a taste of modern Australia with a choice of succulent meat dishes, freshly caught seafood and sharing plates. Entrees, Salads, Charcuterie, From the Farm, From the Ocean, Pastas, Pates and Terrines, Raw Stuff, Breads and Sides. There is so much to choose from. Rachael suggested that instead of Entree and Mains my guest and I focus on more tapas stuff, it is lighter, we can eat more and it is damn tasty.
ATLANTIC SALMON CARPACCIO:
We kicked it off with a Salmon Carpaccio, and we both bloody loved this gorgeous looking dish. My guest, Karin, stated this was her favourite dish of the evening. Atlantic salmon carpaccio with fennel, caper berries, green olives, red chilli and rice wine vinaigrette. The fennel with the salmon was a match made in heaven and the little bits of heat from the chilli had me salivating.
THE BEST GARLIC BREAD ON PLANET EARTH:
Following the Carpaccio Rachael brought us out their garlic bread, this was something she insisted we order. The best decision of the night. If French Toast and Garlic Bread had a love child it would be this garlic bread. I would have been happy to eat nothing but five plates of this garlic bread and I would have left a happy, carb overloaded man safe from vampires. They use Brasserie Bread. It’s caramelised garlic bread char-grilled with olive oil. It was slightly sweet with the consistency of marshmallows. Most venues serve garlic bread, it’s a standard staple that is heated and served, never before have I attended a venue that makes their garlic bread the hero of the dining experience. Bravo!
All other garlic bread I will ever eat will be held against this as judgement.
CHILLI AND GARLIC PRAWNS:
About thirty seconds to a minute overcooked but we didn’t care too much, my head pretty much got stuck in the little pot trying to extract the remnants of the sauce. The garlic wasn’t too strong and the heat from the chilli gave it that little bit extra that we both loved.
GRILLED HALLOUMI AND FRESH MINT:
The halloumi was enjoyable but sadly for THE PANTRY MANLY I had dined at ARISTOTLE’S NEUTRAL BAY the week prior and while THE PANTRY MANLY holds the garlic bread crown, ARISTOTLE’S owns the halloumi crown, a crown they will never lose.
BEER BATTERED ZUCCHINI FLOWERS:
These were quite enjoyable. Stuffed with pequillo peppers and goats cheese the flavour was enjoyably mild. I found the batter a little harsh but when combined with the pesto and romesco dipping sauces it all balanced out nicely. They didn’t last too long on the plate.
We never thought we would make it to dessert, we were pretty stuffed at this stage, the carbs of that bread sitting nicely. But our waitperson was quite persuasive. I was leaning towards the Lime & passionfruit “cheesecake” with poached pear & raspberry coulis but while the sound of it was epic Rachel thought I would prefer the Banoffee Pie. I was hoping my guest, Karin, would order the Banoffe Pie so I could get my standard, must order, Affogato, but she wasn’t going to do the dessert. Rachael, on the other hand just ordered two for me. Reason #3689 I cannot lose weight right there.
I was more than satisfied. The Frangelico Affogato was delightful. It wasn’t too big and it went down a charm. And while I am not a banana fan it was delicious in this Banoffee Pie. It was a perfect dessert, delectably sweet but never over-sweet. I could have eaten the entire pie, and this was the most banana I have eaten in years.
THE PANTRY MANLY is a fantastic venue that is cheaper than one would expect for its epic location. If you want a chilled place to dine with friends or want to show off Manly to visiting foreigners, this is the place you want to go. It will forever hold the title of best garlic bread on planet earth for me.
SCORE BREAKDOWN: 2/3 food, 2/2 service, 1/1 drinks, 1/1 venue & ambience, 1/1 cost, 1/1 toilets and 1/1 bonus
The Pantry Manly Deets:
PH: (02) 9977 0566
Breakfast served from 7.30am to 11.30am
Lunch & Dinner served from 12pm to late
VEGETARIAN OPTIONS: Yes
GLUTEN FREE OPTIONS: Yes
KID FRIENDLY: Yes – but I would prefer not 🙂
*** JK (and any guests of Spooning Australia) were invited guests of the establishment. However, as always, if it was shite I would happily tell you as such.