Team Freo is all over Manuka, and for everyone else, it warrants the drive. We are yet to order something from this kitchen that doesn't have us excited the moment it hits the table. Imagine a restaurant where dishes include sake marinated octopus grilled over jarrah coals and slow-roasted lamb with smoked labneh, then imagine how good the pizzas must be. The woodfired crust deserves a prize on its own.
This tasty fare is the handy work of head chef and owner Kenny McHardy. McHardy has had an illustrious career, the New Zealand native starting out at age 14 and going from strength to strength, working in the Michelin-starred kitchens of Gordon Ramsay and Marcus Wareing, as well as the two-hatted Walter's Wine Bar in Melbourne. In 2015, McHardy opened his first solo venture Manuka, inspired by his childhood memories of collecting manuka firewood at his home on Kawau Island.
McHardy along with his wife and restaurant manager Jody have created an inviting fine-dining space which is casual, comfortable and not in the least bit stuffy — despite McHardy's resume. The menu is seasonal and focuses on showcasing the best WA produce, with smoke the underpinning theme. The drinks list mirrors this approach and features a number of local drops from around the state. Word to the wise: the $22 blue manna crab with fennel and chilli oil is a steal for the quality and flavour.