Ever been to a restaurant where you really want to eat everything off the menu? If you stomach can handle it of course. That was how I felt when I finally made the ferry trip to Manly to check out Merivale's first North Shore restaurant, Papi Chulo, for a food blogger gathering. On a relatively sunny afternoon (which ended up being horrendously windy later on), I met up with Irene's Getting Fat, iFat Food Chronicles, Nessy Eater, Polyphagia, A Swoonful of Sugar and Milkteaxx to try as many meaty dishes as we could handle. Also we bumped into the girls from Next Stop Food and Journey From Within who were celebrating a birthday at a nearby table.
If you prefer public transport over driving, you can literally get to this restaurant a mere moments after leaving the ferry wharf. Tremendous scenery of the beach side which would be perfect for a nice sunny day. When I got inside, I was immediately stunned at how packed the restaurant really was a 12:30pm. We were seated very close to the kitchen so we could
El Mani ($8.00)
While I did not get the chance to try this drink, the others said that this blend of chocolate sauce, caramel peanut butter and vanilla ice cream was quite rich, creamy and incredibly sweet. I was particularly drooling at the chocolate biscuits floating on top. Looks nice to have on a warm day.
Smoked Hot Wings with Comeback Sauce ($16.00)
I usually have don't have a huge reaction when it comes to chicken wings but oh my gawd these hot wings were absolutely incredible! The skin was crisp and golden while the meat was well-cooked to our liking. It was no wonder why this was so popular with everyone at the table. And that comeback sauce! While it wasn't too spicy, it still had that zesty, smokey, chipotle-esque kick which excites your taste buds. No surprise that I was keen to use this sauce on everything.
Curly Fries ($9.00)
I do love a good serving of curly fries. We don't see these babies enough around Sydney. The fries were very crunchy and seasoned with various spices though given its heavy carb content and the amount of food coming up, I didn't eat too much of it. Great to share and perfect with that amazing comeback sauce!
Smoked Wagyu Brisket - 300gm ($34.00)
Sure enough, we all fell silent the moment this gorgeous piece of meat showed up at our table. Gotta admit, the food delivery was incredibly fast with many dishes showing up at the same time. Seriously though, look at the marbling on that smoky beef! So soft, tender and ridiculously juicy, it makes you want to drool all over the table. I'm speechless as I'm writing this actually. Just look at that photo!
Papi Chulo BBQ Platter ($86.00 - serves 2-4 people)
Just when you can't get enough of beef brisket, we ordered even more of this cut as well as a sample of different types of meat in this restaurant's signature BBQ platter. This includes a half rack of lamb ribs and 150gm each of wagyu brisket, chopped pork and pork belly served with pickles and soft bread. The lamb ribs were very tasty and easy to cut through. It also didn't have that strong taste that seems to turn some people off lamb...well I didn't think it was strong but that's me. You just can't help but feel the happiness when the meat fell off the bone so quickly. The pork belly was succulent fatty goodness that melts in your mouth. Even though there's a thick slab of fat, it's a total guilty pleasure especially with its incredible softness and the seasoned flavour. And that chopped pork (I think it's pulled pork? Looks like it) is sooooo addictive! Had a sweet, saucy and tangy taste that keeps me getting more than my share especially when it came down to leftovers.
Papi Chulo Burger - grain fed beef, bacon, American cheese, tomato, lettuce, pickles, soft bun ($18.00)
By the time the Papi Chulo burger showed up, most of us were feeling full from all the meaty goodness. I was still ok by this point so I grabbed my share. The beef patty had that medium-rare pinkish colour as we attempt to split the burger to share. While this did not stand out compared to the other dishes - most likely because we were too full, I still loved that crispy bacon as well as the soft (though filling) bun.
Plate of colourful pickles and other veggies
If you are getting meat sweats just by reading this post, fear not. We also got a complimentary plate of colourful pickles and other assorted veggies which came with the meat platter. While they were quite sour, they were a nice relief from all the meats, carbs and fatty oils that we have eaten so far.
Smoked Wagyu Brisket Sandwich - spicy celery pickle, caramelised onion, horseradish mayo, fried egg, soft bun ($18.00)
M arrived late when we finished nearly everything so she ordered a smoked wagyu brisket sandwich (which looked very much like a burger). Although we couldn't eat anymore savoury food, we cannot help but feel the food envy at the layers of beef brisket and egg in that burger. Could only imagine how good this would have tasted.
Pear and Rhubarb Cobbler, Ginger Crumble, Creme Anglaise, Orange and Ginger Ice-Cream ($14.00)
Just when you and I thought that we have given up, think again. There is still that mysterious favourite room for dessert. Three desserts actually. Yeah we couldn't decide so we tried them all to share. The pear and rhubarb cobbler was warm and not too sweet or sour. While there was a decent amount of creaminess due to the creme anglaise and ginger ice cream, it was combined with the ginger crumble and chunks of pear and rhubarb. Compared to the other desserts, this was lighter with well-balanced flavours and textures which was why this was a favourite sweet dish for pretty much everyone at the table.
Banana Split - fresh split banana, chocolate fudge, peanut praline, banana ice cream, peanut butter ice cream, cherry jam, whipped cream, glace cherry ($14.00)
The banana split especially at a restaurant like Papi Chulo would certainly bring out your inner child. With all that creaminess from the peanut butter and banana ice creams and the whipped cream, it was certainly a decadent and rich dessert. The fresh bananas, chocolate fudge and crumbled peanut praline added a good amount of crunch to what was otherwise an intense creamy dessert.
Warm Chocolate Chip Cookie with vanilla malt ice cream, butterscotch sauce, macademia brittle ($14.00)
Personally I really loved the above dessert mainly due to my preference towards anything sweet involving softly baked chocolate chip cookies. This was rich and very sweet due to the amount of chocolate, the indulging scoop of melting vanilla malt ice-cream and the thick and warm butterscotch sauce but the softness of the cookie won me over instantly. Plus that crumbled macademia brittle made it even more addictive for me. Would order this again next time especially on a cool day.
While we clearly had our fill for lunch, there was still so much more that I want to try from the menu. Especially the cuban sandwich, the pea guacamole, those potatoes and gravy (and bone marrow!) or even get my hands on one of the smoked BBQ meats again. The vibe was incredibly busy and the service seemed prompt and attentive to our needs. One of my very few qualms was the pricing since it generally leaned toward the more expensive side. Though this is standard for most Merivale restaurants. If only Manly was closer for me to get to because I could definitely see myself making regular visits to try everything on the menu especially for birthdays, farewells and other special occasions.
22-23 Manly Wharf, Manly NSW 2095
(02) 9240 3000
Mon-Fri: 12:00pm - 10:30pm
Sat: 11:30am - 10:30pm
Sun: 11:30am - 9:00pm