“A wine shop was open and I went in for some coffee. It smelled of early morning, of swept dust, spoons in coffee-glasses and the wet circles left by wine glasses.” - E. Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms
Hemingway's at Manly does not smell of spoons (whatever that smell may be), nor of dust (its regular turnover of patrons denies it this privilege) however it does combine the elements of 'Old Man' and 'The Sea', of which Hemingway would be proud. The seaside element stems from its spot overlooking the beach. Sun, surf and sand are literally footsteps away. The gentlemanly aspect appears from the interior. The right-hand wall is hidden by floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, packed with peeling paperbacks. Candles, brassy wall sconces and wooden furnishings take you back to an earlier era.
The menu itself is hidden within the pages of an old encyclopaedia, which is helpfully tabbed 'Food' and 'Liquor' at the appropriate entries, so you don't have to flip through the entire volume to reach the actual menu.
The bottle of Hendrick's Gin is actually the communal water jug, cleverly disguised to tease out the daylight alcoholic inside all of us. The menu is also filled with uber-cute retro images and diagrams.
And now for the real reason we're here - the food. Each item on the menu has a cute and quirky name, like 'three little pigs' (pork belly, morcilla, tail, cauliflower, apple, sprouts, cider) or "shnitty" (chicken schnitzel, lettuce, cheddar, sriracha mayo, soft bun). S ordered the pulled pork sandwich with apple chutney and chipotle coleslaw on sourdough (see below). Generous portions, with an old-school dusting of Kettle chips on the side.
The rest of us (having eaten lunch beforehand) were eager to try the quirky desserts and we weren't disappointed!
'PB & J' - peanut butter parfait, raspberry, brioche, jelly, sorbet, brittle, and jam. Basically a deconstructed peanut butter and jelly sandwich, smeared artfully across the plate. Tasted amazing. Anything that looks like a comet has streaked across my plate (leaving dust from the universe in its wake) works for me.
This was 'milo' - chocolate marquise, milo, milk, coco pops, vanilla, and salted caramel. Amazing! A snowy scoop of vanilla icecream sitting side-by-side with a dense chocolate marquise, all nestled under a bed of foam. The best part was the streak of salted caramel topped with smatterings of crunchy coco pops. Every child's dream.
'Passion pop' - passionfruit bavarois, passiona gel, passion pop jelly, sorbet, sherbet. R ordered this one, and it was the best. Not just because it looks like a paint palette, but because I loved the crazy combination of textures. Crunchy rocks, slippery jelly, silky icecream, and popping candy that creates a party in your mouth! Best $10 you'll spend in a long time.
So when the bill came, and the bottom line asked 'How mad was it?' we could only agree. Hemingway's is definitely a place that demands return visits!
Until next time.