Donny’s Bar - Manly (Sydney)

Manly continues its march into Sydney’s top food destinations in no small part due to venues like Donny’s Bar. Executive chef Carlos Guzman (ex-Porteño) has crafted a smart and creative menu with deft nudges in both the food and drink to test (and reward) palates.

Dishes are designed for sharing and whether you’re after something light or a proper feed you’ll find what you want. Between two guys my guest and I were more than satisfied with three share dishes and a dessert each.

Delicious crispy pork croquettes ($12) (the flavour changes daily) were a great starter before moving on to the ‘Big Bites’: snapper ceviche with corn, Spanish onion, avocado, coriander and mint ($21), and pan fried salmon with spiced brussel sprouts ($20).

The ceviche was refreshing and very moreish, the fresh snapper complimented excellently by a light creamy sauce and diced orange for cut through. The salmon was tender and nearly upstaged by the crisped and jus-soaked brussel sprouts.

Finally, we opted for the Donny’s mess (an Eton mess) with fresh berries, meringue and citrus mascarpone ($16) and deep fried ice cream with pickled watermelon ($14). While the mascarpone in the mess was slightly lacking the berries and fresh mint nail the overall impression - a cool, summery dish that’s a good choice with the ceviche. The deep fried ice cream was a little heavy on the batter but the pickled watermelon added a real twist giving the dish an oddly satisfying Australiana-Christmas feel.

Donny’s match their menu walk with some serious cocktail talk. The strawberry and balsamic caprioska ($17) is lip-licking sour sherbert in a glass while the fairy floss martini ($18) topped with slowly dissolving Persian fairy floss was surprisingly subtle. The sticky date espresso ($18) was almost a dessert in itself (definitely one for the sweet toothed or coffee-loving).

Equally creative attention to detail has been put into the venue itself. The award-winning Luchetti Krelle interior manages to meld hurricane fences, exposed brick and spectacular light fittings into a cosy, rustic school hall cum steampunk speakeasy that feels like Newtown on the beach.

Donny’s have clearly put a lot of thought into creating a unique experience and it shows. From the friendly and knowledgeable service to a playful menu the restaurant is upping the game in the beachside dining hub.

Donny’s Bar

Address: 7 Market Lane, Manly, NSW 2095
Contact: 9977-1887
Hours: Monday bar from 6pm (restaurant closed) | Tuesday – Wednesday 4pm – late | Thursday 12pm – late | Friday – Saturday 12pm - midnight |Sunday 12pm – 10 pm