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Sunday, August 16, 2015

Papi Chulo, Manly

Pomme dauphine with bone marrow and chicken gravy at Papi Chulo, Manly

Fifteen bucks. That's all it'll cost you for the fanciest tater tots in Sydney. We're talking potatoes dauphine with chicken gravy and roasted bone marrow. But wait. There's more. Did you know that Papi Chulo currently has a winter dinner special for snacks, sides, a small main and a wine or beer for $35? Neither did I. I'm sure they're deliberately keeping it on the down low. We only happened to sniff it out on the their website by chance.

Pea guacamole with tortilla chips at Papi Chulo, Manly
Pea guacamole with tortilla chips

The $35 Winter Feast is only available Monday to Wednesday nights, a clever way of getting diners in the door at the start of the week. I don't mind dining when a restaurant is quieter - it means you can hear yourself speak in a less crowded dining room, and food tends to arrive faster from a kitchen that isn't under the pump.

You'll have to pre-book the $35 Winter Feast but it's worth the effort. Here's the deal:

Papi Chulo Winter Feast 
Pea guacamole with tortilla chips
Roast cauliflower with romesco, parmesan, brown butter crumbs
Choice of:
Jumbo king prawns with lemongrass and coconut dressing
Cone Bay barramundi with chilli, lime leaf, fish sauce, macadamia, herbs
Pulled Kurobuta pork shoulder
Suffolk lamb ribs
Rangers Valley wagyu beef brisket
Burnt ends san choi bao, pickled green tomato salsa
Curly fries
Vietnamese coleslaw
$35 per person, includes a glass of wine or beer

Roast cauliflower with romesco and parmesan at Papi Chulo, Manly
Roast cauliflower, romesco, parmesan, brown butter crumbs

The Winter Feast gives a good selection of Papi Chulo American barbecue and grillhouse classics, ideal for both first-time diners and regulars. The restaurant still has quite a buzz about it on a Wednesday night, and our window seat gives us a calming view of Sydney Harbour. It's also handy for watching when the ferry's about to come in if you're heading back to Circular Quay after dinner.

We start with the pea guacamole, a huddle of smooth and buttery avocado mash that we scoop up with crunchy tortilla chips. Obama might not be a fan, but the addition of peas give a mellow sweetness to the guac, as well as lightening the dish overall.

The roast cauliflower is our other included starter, tinged an enticing brown across the surface and smothered in an avalanche of finely grated parmesan cheese. The nuttiness of the cauliflower is reinforced by the puddle of romesco sauce beneath.

Smoked hot wings with comeback sauce at Papi Chulo, Manly
Smoked hot wings with comeback sauce $17

We sprang for an extra starter. The smoked hot wings with comeback sauce are too good to pass up. There's not a lot of smokiness to these midwings - our favourite part of the wing! - but the skin is dried to a slightly crackling-type crunch which enables a perfect adhesion surface for the comeback. And just like the name promises, you can't stop returning, the smoky and spicy dip proving dangerously addictive. Make sure you save the sauce for your curly fries.

Jumbo king prawns with lemongrass and coconut at Papi Chulo, Manly
Winter Feast main option: Jumbo king prawns with a lemongrass and coconut dressing 

The main options are half-sized servings of their offerings on the regular menu. That means three jumbo king prawns split open, kissed on the grill and bathed in a zingy lemongrass and coconut dressing. On the standard menu you'll get six for $38.

These are terrific, cooked just long enough so the flesh starts to turn opaque but you haven't lost the taste of the sea. They're huge too, with large enough heads to obtain a second feast if you're game. And the dressing isn't overly sweet or coconutty either, but well balanced with lime, chilli, lemongrass and just a hint of coconut.

Rangers Valley wagyu brisket at Papi Chulo, Manly
Winter Feast main optionRangers Valley wagyu brisket

The Rangers Valley wagyu brisket looks a little dry on the tray, as though it had been sliced several hours earlier, but the flesh itself is still reasonably juicy, especially at the fatty end. The smoke has really permeated the meat, and a good dunk in the spicy barbecue sauce fixes everything.

Cone Bay barramundi at Papi Chulo, Manly
Winter Feast main optionCone Bay barramundi with chilli, lime leaf, fish sauce, macadamia and herbs

Our party of three also orders the Cone Bay barramundi, a thick fillet expertly cooked and draped over with a forest of herbs. It's the fine shreds of kaffir lime leaf that win me over in this dish, giving a terrific tang that amplifies the fish sauce dressing. Usually I'm a big fan of fish cooked Cantonese-style, steamed with soy sauce, ginger and shallots. This tastes like a Thai take on it, the soy swapped with fish sauce, and the ginger and shallots replaced with lemongrass, chilli and kaffir lime leaf. The fish itself is lush and sweet and easily flakes apart at the nudge of a fork.

Curly fries at Papi Chulo, Manly
Curly fries

Vietnamese coleslaw at Papi Chulo, Manly
Vietnamese coleslaw

Our sides include Vietnamese coleslaw, a crunchfest of shredded red and white cabbage with Vietnamese mint. It's a refreshing palate cleanser but I was left wanting more fish sauce, chilli and the anise flavours of shiso.

Pomme dauphine with bone marrow and chicken gravy at Papi Chulo, Manly
Pomme dauphine with bone marrow and chicken gravy $15

The lure of bone marrow gets us every time and for $15 this pomme dauphine dish is worth every penny. These are tater tots made as they should be, potato puree combined with choux pastry, and then deep-fried into little morsels. They're tumbled into a cast iron filled with a lake of rich chicken gravy. The pomme dauphine are crunchy on the outside, soft and fluffy in the middle. Drowning them in rich gravy is as comforting as a warm bed on a wintry morning.

And then there's the bone marrow. Don't leave them too long or the luscious trough of deliciousness will cool down. The quivering mass of marrow is best eaten in one luxurious shuddering swallow.

Bar at Papi Chulo, Manly

The Papi Chulo Winter Feast is available Monday to Wednesday 5.30pm-10pm until August 31, 2015

This offer must be mentioned when making your reservation. It must also be ordered by the whole table

Grab Your Fork dined anonymously and paid for this meal in full.

Click to add a blog post for Papi Chulo on Zomato

Papi Chulo
22-23 Manly Wharf, Manly, Sydney 
Tel: +61 (02) 9240 3000

Opening hours:
Monday to Tuesday 5.30pm - 10pm
Wednesday to Thursday 12pm - 10pm
Friday to Saturday 12pm - 10.30pm
Sunday 12pm - 9pm

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Papi Chulo, Manly (June 2014)

Manly - Chica Bonita
Manly - Fika Swedish Kitchen
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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 8/16/2015 12:19:00 am


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