Manly Wine is a verdant wine garden by the beach that melds botanical styles, from African jungle to Hawaiian tropics and English-patio elegance. A ‘shrine' enveloped in hardened dripping white wax and cluttered with flowers, pictures and retro collectables seems the ultimate symbol of the Gazebo group's rejection of minimalist décor restaurants. With an eclecticism that jumps between zebra print to surf memorabilia across five separately styled areas, the mecca of most is the Wine Room and its bottle-lined wall, sprouting with flowers. On this sunny lunchtime, the tanned shoulders of Manly beauties are shaded in the Garden Party Room where floral-printed banquettes face a postcard ocean view making fruity cocktails the perfect accompaniment. We join them in the spring-inspired room where the magnificent feathers of two peacocks cascade from their perch high above our heads. Petals and mint leaves are drowned under Yarra Valley sparkling, rose syrup and Gordon's Gin in the Giggly Rose which is made Valentine's-day romantic, garnished with a pink rose. A folder filing seasonal cocktails and wines by every category backs the beverage-motivated restaurant. However the a la carte menu, while shorter than the wine list, makes for a strong rival.
Shallow-fried peppered squid served on a bed of cucumber, and a wooden board hosting crusty bread, glossy olives and fragrant mushroom dip starts this lunch with nibblies. At the yield of our forks, picture-perfect honeyed goat's cheese tart piled with walnut and rocket salad becomes a delicious mess of pastry, soft cheese and dewy Granny Smith crescents. Tender slices of chicken breast are infused with rosemary salt and presented on warm salad of al dente beans, roasted beets, goat's cheese, orange segments and pecans. Sips mingle between the French Maid cocktail of fresh pineapple juice, passionfruit, and Hennessy VS with a whisper of vanilla, and its Chandon Rosé chaser.
Later tonight, wine aficionados will attend the Wednesday weekly wine tastings, while parties head upstairs to the luxurious Wine Suites, where Gazebo style sets the scene for Manly's most suave events.