One of Canberra’s most-experienced food critics and this paper’s longest-serving columnist, WENDY JOHNSON indulges herself with her top eating experiences for 2018
SITTING pretty among a sea of car dealerships, mechanics sites and other commercial ventures in Phillip is Manolo’s, a relatively new eatery with good food and a touch of class.
Some would say it’s a bold move to open in an area that for yonks only specialised in dishing up grub for tradies in fluros, but industrial Phillip is changing and Manolo’s has been smart to seize the moment.
I was greeted with soft music and a warm, rustic fitout. The wooden tables are nicely spaced, the distressed brick walls and a wooden wall are interesting features. Bench seating at the front window is a perfect spot to watch the world go by.
Manolo’s is owned by Alex and Nicole Piris, also owners of Farrer’s Fox and Bow café.
In a matter of nanoseconds, I was presented with water and the small but inviting menu. I couldn’t go past the packed-with-flavour pork rib and white bean casserole; a hearty dish on a cold winter’s day. It came in a bright blue-and-white dish and was the perfect size for lunch ($19). I soaked up the sauce with a slice of thick crusty bread and enjoyed every bite of the salty, smoky French Andouille sausage.
Had I not been so drawn to the “cassoulet” I would have ordered the chilli blue swimmer crab and mushroom linguine ($18.90) or the Spanish fish soup with tomato, saffron, potato, parsley and lemon ($13.90).
Salad lovers are well taken care of and several orders of the healthy, tasty and filling Casablanca passed by my table, loaded with roast pumpkin, quinoa, cucumber, crumbled feta, pistachio, parsley, lemon and more ($17.90). Add an egg for extra protein ($3). The other main salad is broccoli and roquette ($15).
If the official menu items don’t tickle your fancy, Manolo’s makes a wonderful range of sandwiches, house-made pies, sausage rolls, lasagna and other bites, all lined up in the display counter at the front where you also order.
Manolo’s doesn’t shy away from delish sweets, perfect with quality coffee by Five Senses. I was delighted with my orange almond cake, super moist and not overly sweet. It was pretty on the plate, with a berry coulis, whipped cream and a candied slice of orange dipped in chocolate.
The drink line-up includes freshly squeezed juices ($7.90), smoothies and shakes (from $6) and real chai brewed on bonsoy ($5.50).
At Manolo’s you can zip in and out for a quick bite or hang out if you’d like. The place is named after Alex’s father.
Manolo’s, 17 Botany Street, Phillip, open Monday to Friday, 7am to 3.30pm. BYO, $3 corkage.