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Manly Pavilion Bistro

Thousands of visitors to Manly arrive this way, on one of the fleet of ferries which have been bringing workers and holiday-makers to Manly for many decades.

Many are so excited to finally reach this legendary beach suburb that they may not take time to glance to the left and see one of the  most gracious places on the northern side of Sydney. A white wedding cake of a building, it has stood here since 1933 when it was built by the Port Jackson and Manly Steamship Company.

Originally a bathing pavilion, the plan was to provide modest bathers with a private place to shed their day clothes and come out daringly exposed in neck-to-knee woollen garments, ready to swim in the specially-made swimming pool on the waters' edge.

Today much has changed of course in bathing habits, but that gorgeous view across Manly Cove and beyond to the Sydney Heads is still enough to make a first-time visitor gasp.

Now, there is even more to make people exclaim. The Bistro, headed up by Tuscan born Chef Andrea Corsi is making waves - of a different kind to those just beyond the windows. 

On a recent lunch here I was privileged to try some of his dishes - above, truffled potato-filled zucchini blossoms - an unlikely, yet inspired combination.

Later, I had a chance to speak to Chef Corsi, and his enthusiasm is obvious. “For me, working in one of the most beautiful places in Sydney, if not the world, is just incredible. Coming to work each day is a pure pleasure,” he said. “Producing food and drinks that successfully complement the location is a great delight and I love giving a little twist of Italy in this most Australian of settings.” 

When we talked, he had just finished making a several-kilogram batch of gnocchi (like these, above) by hand!  Obviously this is the only way to achieve the fluffy lightness of the ones I ate, here tossed with ricotta and tomato ragu.

Corsi's chef's pedigree is impeccable. After learning his craft in Italian cuisine, he expanded into French cuisine under the guidance of Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons in the UK, before moving to Australia.

In Sydney he met Giovanni Pilu who would become his great friend and mentor and he worked for a decade at both Cala Luna and Pilu at Freshwater before he and Pilu opened and co-owned Cavallino. During this time Chef Andrea also successfully became a Certified Sommelier.

The Bistro at Manly Pavilion occupies an upper level of the building and a table either inside (above)....

..or outside on the terrace offers spectacular harbour views. 

As you could imagine, Sunday brunch has become an institution at Manly Pavilion, with guests often selecting a tempting cocktail such as a mimosa or Bloody Mary to get things going before choosing from the extensive menu, then sitting back and soaking up the sun and those views.

What's more, there is also a Ballroom - ideal for large functions - and a bar, the latter a sophisticated black-tiled feature that glistens in the evening light with the elevated platform providing yet another vantage point for enjoying dress circle views of the harbour while sipping a cocktail from the bespoke cocktail menu.

From being an eye-catching yet humble bathing pavilion to a stylish harbourside venue serving some of Sydney's best food, this old building has seen plenty of changes in Manly.

Many advances, for sure, but perhaps none as tasty as the current one!


The Bistro at Manly Pavilion, Manly Pavilion, 
West Esplanade, Manly, NSW, Phone +612 9949 2255. Open Lunch and dinner Tuesday to Saturday; brunch and lunch Sunday. More details....


- reviewed by Sally Hammond 2017






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