The integrity inherent in chef Kenny McHardy and in the food he chooses to put on your plate, is the single biggest ingredient in his success.
McHardy quietly (no mission statements, no manifestos, no sustainability finger wagging) lives and breathes his beliefs in farmer direct sourcing, seasonality, sustainability and no or low waste. All these actions take time and energy to manage but, from where we see it, he has never wavered.
He’s also a damn fine cook. We’ve managed to plough through most of his dishes over several visits this year.
Star attractions are simple vegetable dishes like cauliflower with parmesan and smoked whey dressing; asparagus grilled on coals with oyster mushrooms and black garlic; and delicate pumpkin, sesame and soy pickled daikon. His mushrooms are sourced from two young entrepreneurs who grow arguably the best mushrooms in WA in a shipping container farm in an industrial area somewhere. Most of McHardy’s ingredients are similarly sourced from boutique growers, many of whom grow to the chef’s specifications.
Larger proteins include a Wagin duck breast with miso sauce and red cabbage (unbelievable flavour!) and slow roasted Berkshire pork with pear compote and walnuts.
He does pizza and they are in the puffy, blackened, chewy, stretchy Neapolitin style. Toppings are minimal and proper.
The small, raw brick dining room is warm and cosy and very Fremantle. Manuka has done exceptionally well this year in the WA Good Food Guide Top 50, moving up the ladder from a very respectable 13 to an incredible 4 on this list of WA’s finest restaurants. Manuka is without doubt one of the great dining experiences.