Melbourne’s hospitality landscape has just about every cuisine on the map. Yet Mauritian food is relatively underrepresented. Nagesh Seethiah (ex-Capitano, Bar Rochford, Anchovy) set about changing that with Manze (meaning “eat” in Mauritian Creole), a 24-seat wine bar and restaurant serving Mauritian fare alongside natural wines. He opened it in 2021 alongside journalist Osman Faruqi and visual artist Jason Phu.

Seethiah, who has Indo-Mauritian heritage, showcases the many influences on Mauritian cuisine – which was shaped by its history of colonisation, slavery and migration. The melting pot cuisine takes cues from Creole, French, Chinese and Indian cuisines, as well as styles from across Africa.

Manze’s menu charts this influence and follows the seasons. To start, order staples like poutou, two-bite coconut and rice cakes topped with asparagus; or the mainstay gato arouille – taro and ginger fritters served with rhubarb hot sauce. For mains, there might be the quintessential Mauritian dish rougaille lalo, a tomato-based sauce with okra, shallots and ginger, or a whole blue swimmer crab drenched in masala butter. Local ingredients are a priority here, with produce coming from Dog Creek Growers. Seafood and meats are cooked on the charcoal grill, filling the air with fragrant herbs and spices.

The rotating wine list celebrates local producers, with drops ranging from Vignerons Schmolzer & Brown to Cleopatra Wines. Enjoy a glass in the intimate dining room, designed by Sonelo Architects. Its cane furniture, cork tile floors and colourful green tiles create an inviting and tropical feel, without becoming a reductive tiki bar pastiche. The space prioritises music by people of colour, and Mauritian sega tracks are a fitting favourite. On warmer days, the patch out the front is a perfect spot to wine, dine and catch the afternoon sun.

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Updated: January 18th, 2024

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