Formally known as Manly Wine, I was eager to find out what was in store at the newly revamped Little Pearl (Bar & Dining) Manly.
I used to be a huge fan of Manly Wine, having spent many romantic meals with my husband until one birthday dinner when food and atmosphere had gone rapidly downhill.
The calamari was soggy, the fish was not crispy-skinned and the dessert was just, frankly, sad. I have no idea why it went into such decline but it did, and then then COVID hit it inevitably demised.
But life born anew as Little Pearl & Dining enters the scene for 2022, introducing a funky restaurant with a bar/DJ area and sit-down restaurant, complete with an extremely interesting, high-quality Pan-Asian menu. It’s on the pricey side of things, but in line with its beachfront location and general upmarket aesthetic.
We sat at the bar area and ordered literally everything we could from the wok-tossed calamari, popcorn bug burgers, betel leaf chicken, crispy pork belly, to the spiced beef cheeks and Sri Lankan prawn curry.
A real feast for the senses, the menu was like an amazing sojourn around India and Asia complete with funky sounds and a vibrant atmosphere all in one.
The freshness of the food and spice levels were on point. We spent most of our meal debating who the chef was and how they had managed to nail such authentic flavours in their dishes.
I was convinced they were Asian-born while hubby guessed they were definitely Australian with an extensive background in Asian cooking.
Interestingly enough, he was right. Jason Robertson, Executive Chef at Little Pearl is Australian with an extensive history on The World (a cruise ship) as a private chef travelling all throughout Asia, where he draws a lot of inspiration.
Jason has been a chef for nearly 30 years, has worked in London and Sweden and most places in between, with a flair for fine dining. He has a solid reputation for casual upmarket shared style food – from South East Asian to Mediterranean flavours – which is what is on offer at the new Little Pearl.
Little Pearl’s menu came about through Jason’s deep love of South East Asian food, culture and flavours. “My ultimate goal was to plate delicious food that was fun and approachable for everyone,” he says.
I think he has succeeded. We were so impressed with the meal that two weeks later we returned for our daughter’s 13th birthday where she and her friends devoured the dishes with enthusiasm.
Her verdict, just like ours, is “highly recommended”. Cheers to Little Pearl for bringing Manly Wine back from the dead.