Opening over the weekend, Rockpool Dining Group has brought two of its city-based institutions to the redeveloped Manly wharf. El Camino Cantina and Saké Restaurant are the latest tenants to open at this prime waterfront location.
Manly Wharf is becoming home to the most unique gathering of gastronomy yet, with Mexican and Japanese now sitting right next door from each other, yet offering entirely different experiences. From nigiri and ramen, to tortillas and tequila, the Saké and El Camino menus are as distinct as you could imagine, but both are experiences you won’t want to miss.
If you’re visiting Manly Wharf you may as well visit both establishments, so plan to start your day with seasonal fine dining at Saké for lunch. Manly is the sixth edition of Saké and the third for Sydney and this instalment is all about location, location, location. The space was designed by Luchetti Krelle and celebrates the unique seaside views: natural light floods inside every dining space and ceiling-to-floor windows ensure there’s nothing in the way of the five-star seascape just meters away.
Although the view is immaculate, the food is better. The bar menu is available at every hour, offering sushi, sashimi and delicious bites, perfectly complimenting a light drink at sunset. However, the à la carte menu is what has earned Saké its accolades, with ultra-fresh seafood, a riot of texture and colour and innovation throughout every dish. Saké classics such as the hiramasa kingfish and popcorn shrimp have stayed on the new menu, and are joined by bright new additions such as the vege cones and deliciously crispy fish tempura with fresh and creamy tartar sauce. If fish isn’t your thing, then head over to the robata section where shiokoji lamb and hot and sour roasted chicken make their mark. Excusive to Manly is the long-awaited tempura nasu dengaku, a miso glazed eggplant, battered and deep fried, which is as pretty as a picture and delicious to boot.
The drinks at Saké are as much as an experience as the food, and gin features prominently at every turn. Four gin bowls – one Japanese and two Australian – have been created to wed bespoke gin and speciality tonic. An immaculate cocktail menu is also present, including a bottled cocktail by Manly Brewing Co, which adds an inventive splash to a refined showcase of Japanese ingredients and liqueurs.
After an aromatic afternoon in Japan, head over to El Camino Cantina for the evening: a boozy tavern filled with fun, tequila and sombreros galore. El Camino has launched at the perfect time: ice-cold margaritas and citric Desperados pair perfectly with the Tex-Mex menu, creating an unbeatable summer combo.
“We take a no holds barred approach to all things Tex-Mex,” said Rockpool Dining Group CEO Thomas Pash. “From the food and drinks, to the fit out and music and we’re inviting all of Manly to come and join us for a fabulous start to summer.”
The interiors at El Camino are ‘Texan sun meets Mexican fun,’ with neon lights, reclaimed wooden doors, floral tiles, a cactus garden and painted flames flying up the bar. The red backlighting gives the space a distinctly sundown feel, while the music, tacos and energetic bar staff remind you just why nightfall can be so much fun. To the locals’ delight there’s happy hour every weekday from 4-6pm, as well as a range of deals almost every night. $2 Taco Tuesday, 10-cent chicken wings every Wednesday, half price fajitas on Thursdays and a $15 burrito and beer lunch special from Monday to Friday.
If Saké is all about flavour and views, then El Camino is crazy for fun and the freedom of the night. While these two spaces are as different as can be, in both flavour and feature, they’re worth every bit as much appreciation they deserve. The next time you’re trying to fill a sunny Sunday, head down to Manly Wharf to take in the views with a drink in hand.