Little Pearl Bar & Dining Review: Beachside bliss in the heart of Manly

Sydney’s Northern Beaches has welcomed its newest oceanside eatery, Little Pearl Bar & Dining. The casual Asian-fusion restaurant replaces Manly Wine, and you’ll find it beneath the Sebel Hotel in Manly.

Little Pearl officially opened in December, before closing for renovations. The newly spruced-up venue is one to add to your dining bucket list. 

Quick tips

Dining style: Asian-fusion

Perfect for: Casual beachside catch-ups in the sun

Catering for: Couples, families, larger groups

Dish to dine for: Crispy Skinned Pork Belly

Price range: Snacks $5-$23; smalls $18-$24; mains $12-$39

Dress code: Casual

Wow factor: Aside from the ocean views, Little Pearl delights with Sunday Sessions every Friday and Saturday from 5pm. Expect live music and DJs. And don’t miss the Brunch with Soul on Saturdays from 11:30am–2:30pm, with live entertainment, bottomless spritz’ and a three-course meal for $79 per person. 

Eager to check Little Pearl Bar & Dining, we pop in for an early weeknight dinner. A bubbly hostess greets us at the door and ushers us to our table (after we QR code check in, of course). 

Little Pearl has gone hi-tech with its online ordering, to some diners’ dismay. However our hostess lets us know if we’re really struggling with the online menu (we are), that we can order at the bar (which we do). For those who do prefer to order via their phones there are ample staff on hand to stop by and offer their assistance finding things on the digital menu. 

You wouldn’t even be able to tell it’s a non-alocholic margarita. Images: Cara Wagstaff

Let’s get this dinner started!

We kick off our midweek dinner with margaritas – well a Naaaaa-garita with Lyres triple sec and lime for me as I’m pregnant and unfortunately have had to part with my usual drink of choice. I’ve been eagerly waiting to try non-alcoholic replicas of my usual tipples, and after consulting with the bartender he lets me know that while the flavours are there, the tequila ‘burn’ isn’t as easy to mimic in its sober form.

Nevertheless the cocktail is delicious and it’s exciting to pretend I’m drinking a margarita with everyone else. It looks exactly the same. Winning! For the other teetotallers out there, the beverage menu also includes non-alcoholic beers, wines and more cocktails.

Little Pearl is right opposite Manly beach. Image: Cassandra Hannaga

Location, location, location

The hawker-style eatery looks right out onto Manly Beach, so we’re able to watch surfers making the most of the late afternoon waves as the sun begins to turn the ocean different hues of pinks and purples, before eventually setting.

The decor of Little Pearl is Scandi-meets-beach-chic, blending soft wooden accents with turquoise and pastel colours suiting its beachside location. 

Make sure you try the Betel Leaves. Image: Cassandra Hannaga

On the plate

Little Pearl’s ethos is sharing plates, so we start off with a selection of dishes from the snacks and smalls section of the menu – the digital menu has impressive food photography, so don’t be dissuaded. 

Crispy Tempura Eggplant. Image: Cassandra Hannaga

I choose the Crispy Tempura Eggplant served with sweet-and-sour dressing, which is totally yum, albeit a bit naughty. Equally delicious are the charred Street Corn Fritters with house kimchi. 

My dining partners’ selections include the Chilli Fried Chicken with miso mayo, which we can smell before it even hits our table. We also sample the Mongolian Sticky Beef, and a plate of Betel Leaves: cute little packages filled with of your choice of chicken, king salmon or tofu, served with rice and traditional Asian flavours like lemongrass, chilli, roasted peanut and Thai basil. 

What used to be the private dining room at Manly Wine. Image: Cassandra Hannaga

Sleek setting

Taking a break before our mains arrive, we have a sticky-beak around the restaurant, taking note of the changes since it was Manly Wine. For starters, they’ve opened up the private dining room to hold a large oval table that now has views of the ocean. The restaurant is split into two sections: the sit-down dining room and then the more casual high tables and bar area. 

Back at our table, a parade of mains arrive. Each dish is delivered on a plate more unique and stylish than the last. I’d love to have a set of serving plates like this in my home. We sample the Poached Chicken & Papaya Slaw, Sri Lankan King Prawn Curry and the vegetarian-friendly Cauliflower Massaman. 

The highlight of the table, however, is the 300-gram serving of Crispy Skinned Pork Belly, served in a soy broth with bok choy. The meat is cooked to perfection without too much fat, and it has the optimal amount of crackling. It comes out in an oversized long strip which has some serious wow factor. 

Image: Cassandra Hannaga

The verdict  

I highly recommend checking out Little Pearl next time you’re on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. The staff are friendly, the dishes delicious, the views top-notch, and the kitchen team caters well to dietary requirements and non-drinkers with great menu options. It’s also a great place to drop in for a beer or cocktail and savour the snack menu. 

As suggested by the venue manager, Ryan Adams, I’ll definitely be back post-baby to sample his top drink recommendation: the Spicy Rhubarb Margarita. My mouth is already watering thinking about it. 

Where to find Little Pearl Manly

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