The menu at Banco, an intimate new bar in the backstreets of Manly (owned by Kurtis Bosley, who also operates Dee Why’s Corretto), was developed by an English chef who’s lived in Australia for just under a decade.
What this means is you can follow an entree of traditionally made Scotch eggs dipped in a curry mayo with a plate of oozy miso-glazed eggplant and labneh. Or you can enjoy a twist on a sticky toffee pudding (with rum-roasted pineapple bits) after cured ocean trout topped with crème fraîche, fried capers, fresh nectarine and a smoked olive oil from Mount Zero in Victoria.
“You need to be a part of the neighbourhood, whilst adding something new to it,” Bosley (ex-Collaroy Hotel, The Buena, Bistro Moncur) tells Broadsheet. He and English executive chef Dan Webb (formerly of O Bar & Dining, Annata) have tapped into a specific Manly demographic, and they plan to have a bit of fun with it.
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“There are so many British people in Manly,” says Webb. “I’m easing locals in with the menu, and once we’ve got their trust, we can have more fun.” Black pudding? Mushy peas? You’ll hopefully see them all on the table at Banco.
When Broadsheet visits, the full-blood Wagyu MBS9 madras pie is the highlight. Anyone who has visited England’s beloved curry houses will recognise the inspiration and influence behind it. “I love curries,” says Webb. “We all love curries.” It’s served with tzatziki, apricot chutney and (naturally) pappadums.
While the desserts change regularly, one on offer when Broadsheet visits is a take on the iconic Terry’s Chocolate Orange. Here, it’s made with Ecuador 70 per cent dark-chocolate mousse.
But while the menu nods to many British traditions, the fit-out by Tom Mark Henry (The Gidley, Dopa by Devon) feels very Sydney 2022. Without views of the water, Bosley wanted to draw attention to the interiors instead, saying, “mixing textures, natural materials and tiles creates an inward view when guests arrive”.
From the street, a neon-lit wine bottle gestures for you to come inside, where dark cork, terracotta tiles and brass line the walls. Timber beams are suspended from the ceiling, and a wooden shelf that skims the roof is stocked with some of the menu’s 300-odd natural wines. The only contrasting colour in the whole space is a striking cobalt-blue vanity in the bathroom – a reminder to always expect the unexpected here.
A tap protruding from the wall near the bar spills out a selection of draught cocktails. This includes the Amanda-Rin Gimlet, with gin, Sakura vermouth, lemon myrtle, mandarin, sansho-pepper cordial and citrus. (The name is very literal: it’s inspired by a girl named Amanda who likes mandarins.)
There’s also a solid list of cocktails made to order. The She’ssss Alright is a bit of fun, theatrically encasing daily gin, chinola (a passionfruit liqueur), whole passionfruit, and peach manzanilla in a citrus and passionfruit bubble. Also on the menu are a number of beers, Italian Tassoni sodas, and, in another nod to the neighbourhood, a non-alcoholic G&T made with nearby distiller Seadrift’s non-alcoholic spirit, saltbush and seaweed.
Wed to Fri 4.30pm–10pm
Sat & Sun 3pm–10pm