The second level of pretty South Steyne eatery Manly Greenhouse has been transformed into a Basque-style wine and tapas bar, Wine Room. The make over is an effort to highlight the venue’s 400-strong wine list, which features drops from across Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
“After the lockdown we wanted to do something new,” head chef James Evangelinos (whose last role was head chef at Merivale’s Hotel Centennial) tells Broadsheet. “We saw a couple of holes in the local market. The first was a more sophisticated bar with a food focus; we feel Manly is screaming out for this. The wine [and] tapas concept was a great way to showcase some interesting and affordable wines by glass and bottle.
“The second reason for tapas is that Manly loves casual dining and they love sharing. We feel that tapas is a great way to offer interesting food that is affordable, where the diner could be in complete control of their dining experience.”
Evangelinos and general manager Craig Hemmings (ex-Chin Chin, Guillaume at Bennelong) decided on a Basque-inspired approach to the menu, drawing on their experiences with French cuisine.
“We understand and respect the technique and discipline. We also love the flavours and possibilities with Spanish cuisine,” Evangelinos says. “It just made sense to explore the Basque cuisine and see the possibilities with this fascinating region and the merging of these two great cultures and cuisines. We’ve had a lot of fun. This is not traditional but my interpretation of the Basque approach to flavour and eating.”
Highlights include potato cakes with trout roe and almond dip, smoked Spring Bay mussels, and pork meatballs with preserved tomato and green olive. An entire duck is broken down and used in various dishes: the crown is dry-aged, roasted and served with duck sausage; confit duck is rolled in brik pastry; and the liver is grilled. Evangelinos says your best bet is to pair the duck dishes with a glass of pinot.
“I love these dishes because of their simplicity. Great flavours from good produce, [and they’re] great to eat with a glass of wine,” says Evangelinos.
The space itself has also undergone a makeover, care of Kathryn Thompson from Five Foot One Design (Botanic House, Terrace on the Domain, Paperboy). Dark banquette seating offsets an orange-and-grey mural by Melbourne-based artist Kayleigh Heydon. The room is lush with foliage, and wherever you turn you’re offered views from the front of the building, out to Manly Beach and to the ocean beyond.