When I think of Manly, I think of a beachy suburb with all the usual tourist traps – fast food and overpriced waterfront restaurants, but in the last few years Manly seems to have undergone a transformation and now boasts quite a few funky cafes like Hemingway’s, which features cute touches like menus inside books and water served in a gin bottle as odes to the great author himself. Ernest Hemingway’s face is even on their sign in case you didn’t realise the reference in their name, and the bookshelves and printed quotes on the white walls are another 2 dead giveaways.
Although the overall vibe of the cafe is cosy as it feels a bit like a trendy library, they have open windows facing onto the beach which let the fresh air in and remind you of its picturesque location with a glimpse of the sea view. Unfortunately, it’s very windy on the autumn day we visit and we are seated next to the open window too, which meant that our serviettes kept flying off the table. As we settled in at our table, we began the hard task of narrowing down what to order for our late lunch – there were quite a few interesting American inspired dishes like Southern Fried Chicken, but I ultimately settled on the Pork Chop because it listed maple bacon as an ingredient while my friend went for the Salmon option.
The food took awhile to come out and when it did, it turned out that the waiter had mixed up my order and thought that I had ordered fish too. I was a bit disappointed because I was looking forward to the maple bacon but kudos to the wait staff for fixing it up right away and offering us 2 coffees on the house and a 20% discount on the bill too!
We started on the King Salmon as we waited for my dish and although it wasn’t a large serving of fish, it had been cooked to perfection with the moist flesh contrasting well with the lightly crispy skin. The dish also came with a fresh Thai salad and avocado puree, which had some unexpected sour notes, probably owing to a dash of citrus being added to it. Overall, we really enjoyed the dish, although the green nam jim sauce which came with it was super spicy and not recommended for those who can’t handle chilli – ask for it on the side to be safe.
Eventually, the Pork Chop also arrived and we were astounded by how big the serving was – 2 generous slices of meat on the plate for us to share, hidden under a mountain of maple bacon, lettuce and sliced pear and drizzled with an ample amount of ranch dressing. It was an interesting dish with a lot of clashing flavours but somehow it all worked. I really liked the fresh sweetness of the pear, juxtaposed against saltiness of the meat and the combination of sweet and salty embodied in the maple bacon which tied all the flavours together. The Pork Chop itself was flavoursome, but we struggled to finish it as it was quite hard to cut.
Pork Chop, $19
Despite the mix up with my order, the service at Hemingway’s was friendly and I’d come back to try more of their quality menu and drink more of their great coffee. Hemingway’s is more than just a daytime destination too – they turn into a bar at night and judging by their name, they probably mix up interesting cocktails too!
48 North Steyne
Manly NSW 2095
Phone: (02) 9976 3030