Lobster frites, a prized waterfront location and a luxe Alexander & Co fitout: say hello to Bar Tropic. Manly's newest restaurant jumped out of the blocks this week, and there's plenty to like.
The package was tempting enough to lure chef Francois Poulard across the harbour from Chiswick restaurant in Woollahra to lead the kitchen at Manly. And just as many Sydney pubs are becoming more casual with their food operations, owner Ben May has doubled down on his food commitment, reinstating a separate dining room in the Manly Wharf Hotel.
Some of it was inspired by his success at Burleigh Pavilion on the Gold Coast. And while May is emphatic that Bar Tropic isn't fine dining, "I wanted to [create] something I was happy and proud of, have a fab restaurant down here." There's even a nod to the north: Burleigh Pavilion's The Tropic restaurant inspired the moniker.
About $5 million has been splashed on an overhaul that stripped out the Manly Wharf Hotel's interior. Now, high tables make the most of the harbour views.
Poulard's Mediterranean-inspired menu has a strong seafood angle, kicking off with a classic prawn cocktail ($24) before reaching a little higher with blue swimmer crab mafaldine ($38) and pipi and chorizo spaghettini ($38). Sydneysiders don't live on seafood alone, so there's plenty of vegetarian and carnivore action with the small plates ($9-$24) and even a flat iron steak.
When we caught wind of the project in September, Poulard told Good Food his main focus was to bring a bit of fun to the northern beaches. He also promised an elegant seafood platter was part of his plan.
True to his word, Bar Tropic has a seafood platter of spanner crab salad, scallop ceviche, kingfish tartare, oysters and prawns ($140) on its opening menu.
Open Wed-Sun noon-midnight.
Manly Wharf Hotel, East Esplanade, Manly, bartropic.com.au