No need to pimp my panorama
What’s better than eating lunch while enjoying a harbour view? Not much that I can think of.
Originally I’d planned a Sunday lunch to review a restaurant at Barangaroo, but weather predictions warned of unruly coastal winds and possible showers. The restaurant wasn’t open for lunch on Saturday so we switched – different day, different location.
Australia truly is just one long beach wrapped around an incredible island – we’re spoilt and we know it.
I enjoy this thought bubble as I sit in Hugo’s restaurant on Manly Wharf sipping a glass of bubbly! The weather bureau is right, and Saturday greets us with a wide blue sky and sunshine above us. Behind us, the COLLAROY ferry arriving from Circular Quay cuts through the waves and parks at the end of the wharf. Locals and day trippers alight and stride past us in a colourful blur.
Hugo’s opened in 2009 with a commitment to serving fresh, contemporary Italian cuisine. Today it’s crowded and buzzing with diners and everyone wants to sit indoors away from the 31°C heat.
It’s windy – enough for me to request a rubber band, or anything I could use to tie back my long hair. Otherwise I’ll eat my hair with every bite of food. Promptly returning with a rubber band earned them a $10 tip from me just for that.
My hair tied back securely, I could finally relax, and see the sea view in front of me.
I marvelled at how the groups of people seated at outdoor tables were surviving the very hot sun. At first I guessed they were a tour group, all wearing matching white baseball caps, until I realized they were wearing the same caps as Hugo’s staff. A smart, and thoughtful idea to hand out caps as guests waited for indoor tables to become available.
I also spied pump bottles of sunscreen on each table – another thoughtful idea.
As we clinked glasses, my friend and I toasted what a gorgeous Saturday it was, and how fabulous it was to be sitting anywhere along the coastline of Australia on a summer’s day. On the beach below us people played beach cricket, or swam, while further out sailboats bobbed lazily on the waves.
We shared six oysters natural as a starter, ignoring the shallot and vinaigrette dipping sauce because these were some of the freshest, plumpest, creamiest oysters I’ve eaten and sauce would have been a crime.
Glancing further down the menu, my friend ordered Crispy Skin Barramundi ($39) – served with a sweet potato + ginger mash, coconut, chilli + lime sauce. I was tempted to order seafood too, but reminded myself I’m trying to eat mostly vegetarian throughout January.
The pizza at the next table looked great – a super thin, crisp crust, crowned with a topping of juicy scallops and just a sprinkling of cheese – so I ordered the Fig Pizza ($29), topped with pancetta, gorgonzola, Roma tomato, basil, and rocket.
Most pizzas can also be made gluten free if required. We added a side of greens: broccolini, sugar snaps, chives, with ricotta + lemon.
My friend rated his Barramundi 9/10, while I wanted to applaud the perfect contrast and quantity of flavours on my pizza: the salty bite of gorgonzola with sweet, ripe, juicy figs. No time to talk …. Eat!
Because I can’t bring myself to pay $22 for just one glass of wine I opted for a SUMMER THYME cocktail ($19) – a blend of Tanqueray Gin + Liquor 43, with Fresh Pineapple Juice, Honey, Lime + Fresh Thyme.
And what a perfectly summery and elegant blend of flavours, without any of the cloying sweetness in most drinks that include pineapple anything. Summer in a glass!
The FOXY LADY ($14) also caught my eye, a mocktail blend of Seedlip Spice 94, Apple, Elderflower, and Lemon + Egg White. One to try next time.
In both service and food service, the vibe at Hugo’s is the dream mix of relaxed and professional.
The weather might have been a hot mess, but from our table the view, the vibe, and the great food blew away stress like a welcome sea breeze.
RATED: Beautiful food FOOD: 4.5/5
VALUE: 4/5 VENUE ATMOS: Holiday mode
VIBE: Life’s A Beach
HUGO’s – Shop 1, Manly Wharf, East Esplanade, Manly NSW
12:00pm-late – Mon to Fri
11:30am-late – Weekends