After 20 years of working someone else’s dream, Dunsborough chef Coby Cockburn made the decision to open Blue Manna Bistro, a steel, sandstone and rammed-earth restaurant with a bush outlook and a menu that’s all hawker-spiced seafood elegance.
The restaurant’s menu judiciously balances elements of sour, salty, hot and sweet to great effect, as you’d expect from a chef who spent his apprenticeship in Port Douglas under a chef trained by modern Asian chef Teague Ezard. Prawn-stuffed chicken wings are a playground of Sichuan sweet and sour. Crisp-fried squid is crunchy and juicy everywhere it needs to be.
That Cockburn’s business partner is also a fishmonger means the chef’s skill with flavour is enhanced by seafood bought (quite literally) straight off the boat with a strong focus on line-caught fish. He’s a dab hand with shellfish too, as evidenced by his tempura soft-shell crab enriched with a tart tamarind hot sauce.
The wine list reflects Blue Manna’s location in blue chip south-west wine country. The cocktail list channels Dunsborough’s coastal-cool spirit; ask the bartender for a blood orange Negroni from the cocktail list and let the day play out at its own pace.