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Usually water views and high prices go hand-in-hand. Look over the ocean? Sure, if you're prepared to sell your car. The Manly Wharf Hotel is a little bit different in that it has the views – it's situated right on the wharf – and it has the food, but it avoids bankrupting its clients by keeping things casual. Fitted out with modern furniture including armchairs, ottomans, high tables with stools and wooden alfresco picnic tables, it does a good impersonation of its dining and drinking crowd – young, trendy but comfortable. It's a place to meet up with friends over a beer and a pizza, a cocktail or for a casual date in a setting that is likely to get your camera clicking.
The menu is divided between two spaces – the front bar and a pizza bar. The former offers simple pub-grub like wedges, nachos and "fish'n'chips" alongside creative salads like barbecue duck (with Chinese cabbage, snow peas, carrots, bean sprouts and spicy Vietnamese dressing) and chilli lime calamari (with rice noodles, carrots, cucumber, coriander and fried shallots). Also flexing its creative muscles, the pizza bar offers options like piri piri chicken with grilled zucchini, tomato and bocconcini and roast pumpkin with Spanish onion, baby spinach, cumin yoghurt, alongside standards for when you just want a margarita. The beverages are also split between two areas: a main bar caters to wine, beer and spirit needs while a slinky cocktail bar is happy to crack an egg into Herradura Silver Tequila, Joseph Cartron Pomme Verte, lemon and basil and mix it into a "Silver Stallion". One word of warning: the Wharf Hotel is no secret, so if you want a seat with a view (or any seat at all) you'd better get in early.