Another new cafe to open in Canberra city is 332 Manhattan, underneath the Manhattan apartment complex facing Glebe Park. On a Saturday morning, the place was packed and I just managed to grab a table for three.
Table numbers are tied with some twine on either a small jar of succulents or a salt and pepper shaker. Though I did like the cute succulent sitting on the table, I noticed wait staff were having a little trouble finding the right table number.
I couldn’t help noticing the freshly baked pastries sitting on the counter top – pain au chocolate, croissants and danishes. The cafe has a ‘Baker in residence’ program where bakers from across Canberra bake some goodies on a rotating basis. A great idea that ensures a fresh injection of yummy products.
While I waited for my breakfast companions to arrive, I browsed the small shelf of products for sale – assorted jams, salts, oils, teas, chocolate and more. There are books and kitchenware that may be purchased from a bookshelf at the other end of the cafe.
The cafe brews Adore Tea tea and Lonsdale Street Roasters coffee. I ordered the chocolate milkshake ($5.50) which is served in a large stripey take away cup. Great if you can’t finish it all. A friend had a latte ($3.50) served in mismatched coloured cups and saucers.
For breakfast, I ordered the baked eggs ($15) and was told there would be a 15 minute wait on food. That was fine as most places are normally a 15 minute wait anyway. My food actually took 40 minutes to come out so I was starving. The baked eggs had been baked into the plate served with tomatoes, mushrooms and lots of bacon. The cafe was very generous with its serving of bacon as I got a lot more than expected and didn’t finish it all. I like the fact that there is butter on the side (is it just me or do a lot of cafes not provide butter any more?). A very simple breakfast but not the best baked eggs I’ve had. I don’t think I’ll order this one again.
I headed back for lunch with V as I can never resist fresh house made pastas which 332 Manhattan provide. I noticed the quieter subdued lunch time crowd is quite different from the busy breakfast/brunch rush. I had a craving for gnocchi and ordered the fresh gnocchi with ham and walnuts in creamy sauce with sage and parmesan scales ($22). The gnocchi was delicious (I wish I had the time and patience to make it myself) and the simple pasta dish worked well with some salty ham and the added crunch of walnuts. Though there was no major wow factor with the dish, it is honest homely food. I was happy with the serving size – gnocchi plus cream is pretty filling so I can’t handle too much of it.
V ordered the spaghetti with pork belly, capers and spicy tomato sauce ($20). There was plenty of pulled pork belly in the mix and V was happy with the amount of capers in the dish. That is, lots of capers.
The cafe has a good vibe and there’s no background music yet, so I found it was relatively quiet with the exception of a little chatter from diners nearby. Orders are taken and paid for at the front counter. Service is polite and served with a smile.
332 Manhattan is right on the corner at 240 Bunda Street in Civic, not located at number 332 as you might initially think.
Value for money 7/10
FPJ score 21.5/30