With its coast meets city vibe – all very Manly – The Tropic is plating up exceptional seafood in a harbourside setting. Which all makes for an unforgettable dining experience, says Cathy Wagstaff.
Dining style: Mediterranean-inspired dishes with a seafood focus
Perfect for: a long leisurely lunch that turns into sunset cocktails
Catering for: friend groups, couples, private dining for celebrations
Dish to dine for: the cold seafood platter is not only delicious but equally photo-worthy
Price range: Entrees $19 – $23, mains $36 – $46 and deserts $16 – $18
Dress code: Smart casual with a touch of coastal cool
Wow Factor: Those Manly harbour views
The back story
Since opening in late 2021 after an extensive renovation that reinvigorated the iconic Manly Wharf Hotel, The Tropic has garnered a reputation as a must-visit Sydney eatery for all the right reasons: good food and stunning views.
Executive Chef Francois Poulard – previously head chef at the renowned paddock-to-plate Chiswick Restaurant (owned by Matt Moran) – is now at the helm of The Tropic.
The Tropic setting
Its location on Manly Wharf means easy access via Manly Ferry or by water taxi. Inside décor is modern with retro touches, designed by Alexander & Co, with a relaxed coastal feel. The white space is lined with wood and pops of warm colour and terrazzo finishes.
Luxe banquette seats and retro-shaped chairs add character and make for cosy dining. An expansive wharf-side outdoor area is ideal for a pre-dinner cocktail or a glass of French Champagne. The Tropic also boasts a spectacular light-filled private dining room that fits 30 people and spills out onto the deck with incredible views.
Now let’s talk about this menu
The philosophy of the menu is quality produce cooked simply to showcase flavour. Poulard may hail from France; however, his dishes are decisively Mediterranean-inspired, which suits the Sydney setting.
We began with the cold seafood platter that was beautifully presented and a must-order. The plate was layered with an incredible selection of the freshest seafood, including freshly-shucked oysters sourced from sustainable farms through East 33.
Spanner crab salad, Abrolhos Island scallop ceviche, chilled tiger prawn cocktail, Hiramasa kingfish crudo and Cloudy Bay clams arrive with a side of wood-fired flatbread.
The latter, along with a plate of delectable pumpkin hummus, gives Totti’s bread and burrata a run for its money. All this was enjoyed with the 2020 Domaine Christian Salmon Sancerre from the Loire Valley.
If that wasn’t enough sumptuous seafood, our tasting menu included plates of zucchini flowers and sea bounty mussels paired with Veuve Cliquot Yellow Label Champagne. Then followed a double-baked blue swimmer crab souffle with bisque sauce and gruyere, which was delicious. With each bite, the combination of crabmeat and cheese was simply heavenly.
Next, grilled WA Maroon and Aquna Murray Cod with tomato, feta salad, and a side of potato galette were matched with a 2020 Polperro Chardonnay from Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula. We finished with delicate broken raspberry and coconut pavlova made with vegan meringue paired with a 2011 Hermann J. Wiemer Riesling from Seneca Lake in upstate New York.
It’s worth noting that the wine list is filled with light, fresh drops to pair with the Mediterranean flavours. An elegant mix of old-world classics and modern blends from talented new-world winemakers using international varietals with a modern twist.
Back to that view
Manly Wharf Hotel‘s harbourside location offers impressive views, ensuring The Tropic has some of the best seats in Sydney to while away an afternoon. Even though we ate on a rainy evening, we were still treated to magical views as the ferries made their way through the harbour under a hazy sunset.
10/10. The food is fresh, fun and perfect for sharing. The Tropic is a versatile venue for all occasions, be it a mother-daughter date, catching up with friends or a romantic rendezvous.
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