:: MIRA :: romance in the garden

Our thursday night dinner date was extra sweet this week as I had just arrived back in Manly after my 8 day long business trip to Melbourne (hence why there was no post last week).  And since I would have a suitcase in tow when disembarking from the Manly Fast Ferry, we decided to dine somewhere close to the wharf.   There are six restaurants (not including the fast food chains) within the wharf itself – Hugo’s, Bavarian Bier Cafe, Chat Thai,  Papa Chulo, Chur Burger and the Wharf Hotel.   However, we were looking for something with a quiet intimate space as well as a being a bit familiar to us.   Set in a townhouse across the street from the wharf, Mira Japanese Restaurant was the perfect pick for our Thursday night meal.

The Hubby and I have been to Mira a few times before.  We have gone with large groups of friends as well as just the two of us.   It isn’t the Japanese Restaurant that we frequent the most, but we do like it and would recommend it.  So tonight, we were going with fresh eyes to look at the menu a little differently for the purpose of the blog. Continue reading :: MIRA :: romance in the garden

:: Ashiana :: loosen your belt buckles

We were hit with a bit of indecision this week as to which restaurant we were going to tick off The List.  Initially, we had settled on trying out the Yardham Taphouse but when we rocked up the lights were full beam as they had a trivia night happening.  We were swapping our normal Thursday night dinner mission with Wednesday this week due to a prior engagement on Thursday.  I do enjoy a good trivia night but this time around, we were looking for a more relaxed environment with warm hearty food and the bright lights really put us off at the Yardham.  After a little wander around the block, we settled on Indian and walked up the stairs to Ashiana.

We have been to Ashiana before and probably frequent it the most of any Indian restaurants in Manly.  There use to be at least four or five different Indian restaurants in Manly but these days there are only two.   Ashiana is located on the second floor, so it is easy to miss if you don’t look closely as they don’t have the benefit of street appeal.   I first heard about Ashiana back in the day when I had an English flat mate.  She and her boyfriend use to eat Indian at least twice a week, which baffled me as I was more a once every four month Indian food craver…I quickly learned that the Brits had an obsession with Indian curries!  Needless to say this is the last place still in business in town that she rated for their flavourful Northern Indian and regional cuisine.

When we dine at Ashiana we are going there strictly for the food and not particularly the atmosphere.   The space is terribly awkward with separate rooms divided by curved archways and mix-matched schlocky furniture crammed into each area.  There is so much potential to update the interiors and each time The Hubby & I dine here our minds races with ideas. Continue reading :: Ashiana :: loosen your belt buckles

:: Jah Bar :: disco dancing tastebuds

An Instagram post enticed us again this week when it came time to select the restaurant from our eatery list. Jah Bar hit the nail on the head with their post “step out of the cold & into our restaurant.  Tapas special tonight is any 4 tapas + a (selected) bottle of red or white wine, or jug of sangria or beer for just $65 for two”.  Don’t mind if we do!  Our friends Jenny & Simon also wanted to get in on the Darley Days mission dinner tonight and both had not been to the Jah Bar yet.  PERFECTO! The Hubby & I can’t remember exactly when we went last but it was well over two years ago so it would be a fresh and new experiences for all of us to take part in.  We were on our way after a meet-up drink at the Steyne first.

It was particularly chilli this Thursday night and there were no brave souls sitting outside the front of the restaurant but it was packed inside. We were seated at the front in a cosy corner inside booth. We were amused to see the outside heater inside keeping us nice and toasty, a fireplace in the sky type of feel.

When we looked at the menu, we were pretty set to take up the special we had seen on Instagram and just double it.  It was two bottles of red wine kinda of night after all!  The waitress was very sweet and friendly and also explained that since there were four of us the set menu might work as well.  For instance, some of the tapas like the zucchini flowers come as three on a plate but if we wanted to add an extra flower for the fourth person it would be an additional charge, whereas the set menu would make sure each tapas plate catered to the four of us perfectly.  Interesting.  There are three set menus to select from, the $45, $55 or $65 per head option and while we did have a look to see if it would be a better option for us, we noticed that drinks weren’t included…so we went with the special and doubled it.  Like I said it was a two bottles of red wine kinda night, he he!  I also noted and loved to see that all food at Jah Bar is sustainable and free range and meat and seafood are sourced from local providers and suppliers. Continue reading :: Jah Bar :: disco dancing tastebuds

:: Havana Beach :: hits all the right notes

They had us at Mojitos and Jazz… For a few weeks now The Hubby & I noticed Havana Beach’s enticing Instagram posts promoting their 2 for 1 mojitos and live Jazz every Thursday night.   Had it not been for our alcohol free June challenge, we would have been there a lot sooner as both these highlights were right up our alley.   Needless to say that on the first thursday of July, it was an easy decision which eatery we would tick off The List.  Hola Havana!HavanaSign_DarleyDays

The Hubby & I had been to Havana Beach cafe & lounge only once before and that was probably the first week it opened in late 2012.   It was nice to return and see the eatery settling in and attracting a significant crowd.   Like its namesake, Havana specialises in Cuban style food for breakfast, lunch and dinner.   They have cleverly utilised the downstairs space as a cafe during the day time and the upstairs for dinner and drinks. However, unlike a lot of its competitors on the Manly beach front eatery scene, Havana boasts a “menu that is easy on the hip pocket” and includes a stellar beach view to boot! Continue reading :: Havana Beach :: hits all the right notes

:: Manly Eat Well Chinese :: food fit for legends

Let’s get straight to it, Manly Eat Well Chinese is delightful, delicious and by far the tastiest Chinese in Manly that we have discovered.  I personally can’t believe it has taken me thirteen years to finally uncover this little gem.

The Hubby & I walked in just before 7pm and snagged the last table at the back of the restaurant… it was packed.  Out of nine different sized tables, there were only two tables still waiting their reservations to arrive.    Eat Well might not be in walking distance from our apartment, but we could tell that the Ocean Beach Precinct  locals took advantage of having this gem in their backyard. The atmosphere was alive with chatter from a wonderful range of diners including young families, a few couples to mates and retiree groups.   Many knew Henry, the manager, by name and we came to learn that he and the restaurant have been there for 20 years!  The friendly and familiar atmosphere reminded The Hubby of Chinese restaurants growing up…it was common to know the staff by first name and you would run into friends without planning a meet up.  It is a unique and even comforting feeling to see this habit still in action.

On to the menu. It was hard to turn away from the Chef’s recommendations on the opening pages, and we immediately decided to go with the Lamb Pancakes (six pieces) – marinated shredded lamb with shallots, onions and spicy sauce served in homemade pancakes.  Also from the Chef’s recommendations, we selected the Shantung Chicken – half bird deep fried and braised in delicious chilli, garlic and vinegar sauce.   We also opted for the special of Steamed Scallops – in ginger and shallots sauce and we can never have Chinese without Spring Rolls…our order was in!

EatWell_PeckingDuckBeing at the back of the restaurant, we were located just in front of the Waiter’s preparation table which allowed us to witness the final presentation of the food.  The Hubby marvelled at how perfect the lettuce cups were for the Sang Choy Bow that Henry was dishing up…to his frustration, our lettuce cups never seem to cooperate when we prepare this at home… not sure if any tips were uncovered though.   But the highlight was seeing the Pecking Duck come out. The Pecking Duck  is only available if it is pre-ordered and does not even appear on the website or take-away menus…hot tip!  Henry presented it to the table who ordered it and then came back to delicately slice the duck and prepare the pancakes. DROOL!  Next time, we will have to come with a group of friends and organise the duck!! Can’t wait!

Continue reading :: Manly Eat Well Chinese :: food fit for legends

The eatery list is up!

Holy Cow! We have now successfully complied the list of all the Eateries in Manly and are blown away by how many there actually are!  Have a look and see how many have you been to…

TheList_CycleRideThe list is still a work in progress and we welcome comments on any updates needed.   We utilised the HelloManly list, the Urban Walkabout Manly map as well as hitting the streets on our pushies to make sure we had recorderd all the Eateries.   Trying to classify the cuisine for some places was a little bit challenging, so comment if anything needs to be amended.  Also, we had a great suggestion by a lovely friend to note which restuarants are BYO.  You will see a few question marks where it was inconclusive from our research, so again, comment if you can advise which way or the other.  If you eat out a lot, the costs can add up quickly, so BYO eateries are certainly sought after by us Locals.   The list will be very handy for The Hubby & I on our mission but also for the community, so please share with your Northern Beaches mates!

I found it interesting to see how many Italian, Mexican and Asian choices we have in our  little seaside village.  Especially since only 3 years ago there was hardly any Mexican in Sydney itself and now we have several options in Manly alone! We truly are very lucky to have such a range of yumminess available to us and all in walking/cycling distance too, amazing!  This project is already making me appreciate Manly more than I already did…  Plus, I taught myself a new skill by learning how to build a table in HTML! Love it!

The Hubby & I are out tomorrow for our Thursday night dinner mission, no decision on which restaurant we will tick off the list yet, but we will post the review on Saturday! Stay tuned…

:: Belgrave Cartel :: experience something special

And it has begun, the start of our Thursday night dining mission is on and I must admit I feel like a kid in a candy store!  As we get our list together of all the eateries we need to hit, The Hubby & I have decided that instead of drawing a name out of a hat – – we will select our restaurant based on what type of cuisine we are desiring, how we are tracking on our weekly budget and what mood the weather has set.  Well, that is the idea at least, we will see if it will work down the line.

After a week of cooking up big main meals, I was feeling a change of pace with maybe a tapas style dinner or even an Italian style cuisine to warm the winter chill.  We threw around a couple ideas and then unanimously agreed on the Belgrave Cartel.  The Hubby & I have been to the Belgrave before for numerous Cha Ching art events, which is run by good friends of ours.  These events conjure a fabulous excuse to gather and mingle with friends, meet new people and of course appreciate and support the talents of local artists.  The Belgrave is always alive and buzzing durning these events and morphs  into a groovy bar scene with a DJ, drinks galore and nibbles coming out of the kitchen to fulfil the guests.  We have only had dinner there once before but that was prior the reno which now includes a full service kitchen among other enhancements.  So tonight, we were looking and tasting with a new set of senses and seeing the Belgrave for its dinner spot potential.

It turns out that selecting the Belgrave couldn’t have been more perfect.  When we rocked up, we glanced through the menu on the outside table and noticed it was organised in small share plates and then a few big plates which included a ‘Mama’s Lasagne’.  It was exactly the type of cuisine style The Hubby & I were looking for, a true serendipitous moment.  Later on, I was to learn that this cuisine is dubbed ‘Stuzzichini’ meaning Spanish tapas with an Italian twist according to the rhetoric the Cartel has online! Love it! Continue reading :: Belgrave Cartel :: experience something special

Have you ever said…

so-many-options… I’m going to try every cafe, restaurant and pub in town this year!? And then as the fireworks explode over the Sydney Harbour bridge for another year, you realise you still have not even come close to making the rounds!?!   Well, that is exactly why my hubby and I are kicking off this blog, we actually want to achieve it and by writing and reviewing each experience, it will make us accountable and keep us motivated to complete our little challenge.

Let me start by saying that we are not professional food critics, writers or even chefs.  We are an interior stylist and plumber that live in Manly and who love and appreciate yummy-in-the-tummy food.  We do love to cook too…the hubby is usually the head chef and I play the role of sou.   We can whip up a mean meal, but we are a decade away from trying out for Master Chef or My Kitchen Rules.  By the time Thursdays come around we are ordinarily ready to head out for a drink and dinner in town instead of cooking ourselves.   I can count on one hand or maybe two – if I think hard enough – the venues that we frequent. So now Thursdays are never going to be the same again –  or for a while at least – as hubby & I embark on our little mission.  Plus, we are always eating out somewhere for breakfast, lunch or dinner on the weekends too so we plan to cover at least two reviews a week.

Did you know that according to HelloManly – Manly’s Visitor Information Centre, that there are 106 Restaurants & Cafe’s in our little slice of heaven? This little fact kinda blew me away…and excited me all in the same…there quite possibly is a new restaurant love affair on the horizon to shout out loud about.  However, we also won’t be afraid to comment when an eatery is all about the tourist dollar and has forgot their local market (or perhaps we are not their market at all).  Tourists are great for the local economy, of course…but so are the LOCALS 🙂 and Darley Days is all about local opinions for the  community.  Can I say local again??

In the next week, hubby and I will take our pushies and cycle down each street in Manly to make sure we have a complete list of all the eateries in town – we are making a list and checking it twice!  I do love a good list..

In the meantime, let us know how many eateries you think you have dined at in Manly??