Ξ June 18th, 2008 | → 1 Comments | ∇ A Day at a Time, Restaurant Reviews, Tasting Notes |
1/39 East Esplanade,
Manly NSW Manly, Australia
June in Australia is mid-winter, which roughly equates to an average summer’s day in northern England, so what better than some fine dining in Manly, just a scenic ferry ride across Sydney harbor.
I was in town over an Australian long weekend – the Queen’s birthday is a national holiday down under, unlike back in the UK where the celebrations consist of lots of soldiers in red tunics and Bearskin helmets marching around with great pomp and circumstance, but no time off for the general public.
Garfish is named after the Southern sea fish species and is one of those restaurants where they don’t take reservations in advance (something that appears to be common in Australia), so up until an hour before we arrived we weren’t completely sure whether we’d get in. Several drinks at the Manly Wharf Hotel across the road (where they have a nice by-the-glass selection in the main bar) meant the waiting was fun, and we strolled over at about 7pm to find a table was available. I was with my colleagues Stewart and Susan, who live in Manly, and a couple of their friends. They had been before and had mixed feelings on the place (although the food was excellent there had been service problems in the past) but they were happy to give them another chance as they said they had a very good wine list and knew that was of interest to me!
The inside of the restaurant is modern, with a large flat screen TV showing diners all of the frantic the activity in the kitchen, and, although it was busy inside, we got a great table by the window which would have offered stunning views over the wharf had it not been dark already! There was some initial disappointment when the waiter told us that several of the key menu dishes were not on due to the long weekend disrupting deliveries, including the whole Barramundi, which I had hoped to try. Instead I went for the Mussels in a tomato, chorizo and olive sauce, with Salt n’ Pepper Squid to start with.
The wine list had a good selection of mostly Australian wines and a couple of New Zealand and French offerings. Two caught my eye and the group agreed to try them both.
White was the Vincognita 2007 Madeleine’s Viognier from Nangkita Vineyards in Fleurie, South Australia. Peach and oak on the nose, rich & full bodied at 14%, yet zingy up front. With good fruit and a nice finish the two girls especially loved this – 87-88pts.
Red was the Magpie Estates 2005 “The Fakir”, a 14.5% Grenache from the Northern Barossa Valley. This had a deep nose, herby with some menthol and berries. In the mouth it had a wonderfully smooth texture, almost creamy, with well integrated tannin, lots of black fruit, mild heat and a good length. A very nice wine for the evening and enjoyed by all at the table who tried it – 88-89pts.
The food arrived and the eating began. My Salt n’ Pepper squid was indeed salty, but also tender and succulent with a lovely chilli paste on the side and I enjoyed every mouthful, however Susan’s starter of seared scallops on a polenta base with mushrooms and horseradish looked, and from her comments tasted, excellent and seemed the best choice of the night. For the mains mine came in a large bowl in its sauce, which doubled as a hearty soup. The mussels were plentiful and very tasty, although on seeing the other dishes I think I lost out – each of the others had one of the fish options and the presentation on these plates was wonderful with a piece of delicious looking fish and assorted coloured sauces and vegetable accompaniments – I felt rather rustic and uncouth with my bowl of shellfish! It was agreed Stewart had the best main, with his delicate smoked sea trout cooked to perfection.
The food and wine were both fantastic, and before the end everyone had agreed they were glad they had come back for another go. One final event sealed the agreement of an enjoyable evening when Stewart knocked a glass and spilled half of its contents over the table. As he started to mop up the Viognier with a napkin the waiter came over to clear the debris and then returned a few seconds later, unprompted, with a replacement glass!
If you like seafood, and find yourself in Sydney any time soon, then I’d recommend getting one of the regular the ferries over to Manly trying to get a table at Garfish so you can try out the hospitality yourself – Bon Appétit!