Establishments can have their ups and downs. Particularly when situated on perhaps the one of the most picturesque spots in Manly, it’s easy to rest on your laurels.
I ate at Manly Pavilion some years back. Stunning food, service and wine so much so, I had recommended it years later to family and friends, but a little to their disappointment.
“Not quite what we expected, Faye,” bemoaned one. I was shocked and surprised given I had such an amazing experience. I wrote it off as perhaps an off day, but a few months later I heard the very same thing from another companion. How could it have changed?
Fast forward a few years on, I was curious to see whether indeed it was as good as I had remembered or whether there had been a downslide and I went back to the restaurant to uncover the truth.
On the night in question, we sat down to a full house. Not one table was empty, glamorous waitresses busied themselves with glorious looking cocktails and smells of freshly cooked seafood filled the air.
Salivating, we quickly got stuck into grilled scallops, chargrilled octopus and some salt and pepper calamari.
Washed down with a few of their moreish Lychee martinis, the produce was superb. Giant plump scallops, melt-in-the mouth calamari and the most tender octopus I have ever tasted.
As I devoured the last mouthful, I took a luxurious glance at the ocean and wondered: “how the hell could anyone say this place isn’t magnificent?”
I dragged the manager Adam Polly away from his post and got questioning and we uncovered some interesting findings.
Adam used to run Hugo’s, the hugely popular dining spot just a few laps away from the Pavilion and he’s just recently moved over to the Pavilion.
And after a few words about how the restaurant searches far and wide for quality produce, it became patently obvious what a perfectionist this man is.
He runs the Pavilion like a tight ship and I can imagine takes no prisoners when it comes to quality control.
So maybe the restaurant did experience a few hiccups, but Adam appears to have pulled it back on track. But I reserve judgement until the next course.
For the mains we ordered their seafood pasta, cooked in a traditional Italian sauce and pork belly on a celeriac puree with chargrilled fennel.
DIVINE. The pork belly was so soft and tender and juxtaposed with crunchy crackling, I was in heaven.
My husband chowed down the pasta with equal enthusiasm. So how have people ever had a mediocre experience at this place when the food is this good? It was time to talk to the chef where we uncover even more answers.
Manuel Bellanti, a young Italian who had been working as a chef since he was 15, worked at Manly Pavilion some years back but went on a few travels before returning back at the restaurant very recently.
“A lot of my recipes are from my family passed down through generations. The pasta dish is one of my family secrets,” says Manuel.
No doubt Manuel is another reason this place is back on the map. Combined with Adam’s eye for quality and the young Italian chef’s talent for amazing grub, it would hard to fault Manly Pavilion this time round.
West Esplanade, Manly NSW 2095
Transparency check ✓ This is a non-sponsored, genuine review. It was not anonymous however and was graciously offered on the house.