The Sydney based Merivale empire has spread north opening Papi Chulo restaurant in Manly, their first venue over the bridge. It is a welcomed addition to the Manly Wharf precinct with the iconic Wharf Bar to the left and Hugos Manly to the right. Leaving not a skerrick of red behind, the Manly Pheonix Chinese restaurant has relocated upstairs of The Steyne Hotel on the Manly beachfront, leaving a blank canvas for Kelvin Ho and his team at AKIN Creative to do what they do best and turn the vision of Justin Hemmes and sister Betina, into a masterpiece. The creative siblings clearly have a signature style in creating unique and individual dining experiences that can be seen in other Merivale projects including Miss G’s, The Fish Shop in Potts Point and Palmer & Co in the back lanes of Sydney city.
Officially opening its doors on New Years Eve in 2013, the kitchen is overseen by Patrick Friesen of Miss G’s, Christopher Hogarth of El Loco and Dan Hong wearing the chef hat, being Merivale’s Executive Chef and the main man behind the creative and eclectic menu. Priding itself as a smokehouse and grill-dining destination, and although heavily influenced by South America and the flavours of America’s deep south, there are some unique Asian influences thrown in the mix with a Banh Mi and Vietnamese coleslaw making up the extensive menu. We recommend going with a group so you can sample all the flavours – oh and definitely order the Papi Chulo BBQ platter, the jumbo king prawns and the prawn and scallop ceviche – if you’re a seafood lover of course! Also for a little heads up on the sweets, try the tres leche cake and the warm chocolate chip cookie. Guaranteed show stoppers.
Although the view is something else as it stretches out over Middle Harbour towards the city, watching ferries come and go, paddle boarders get on and off and boats cruise past, it was the interior detail that really caught our eye. They have not cut any corners, custom made furniture and lights, marble top in the kitchen, copper bar, pressed metal ceilings, and vintage shutters from Argentina. Saul is the elusive artisan whose metal work is the icing on the cake, custom lights, zinc table and ledge tops, and a beer fountain that turns heads while Athol Wright from Country Design Furniture in Tamworth is the skilled craftsman behind the American Oak custom furniture and joinery including the tables, the back bar and the antiqued mirrors which bring it all together to reflect a mix of South American style and French chic.
With a name like Papi Chulo we were expecting a little more South American influence in the interior aesthetic but this swarve man is more than just a handsome Latino, he almost feels like a chic French lover. We are not complaining. He can be Mon Ceri.