I recently found myself in Manly on a sunny Saturday afternoon without being clued up on where to try for lunch. This is a big deal for me – the queen of planning ahead. After a quick last minute search online I picked out Showbox Coffee Brewers. Showbox opened in early 2014 and the owner was previously behind The Penny Royal – one of my favourite ‘hole-in-the-wall’ spots in Mosman.
The location, being tucked away on Whistler Street means it’s nicely hidden away from the tourists, 100s of whom arrive in Manly each time a ferry pulls up at Manly wharf. But it’s still only a few minutes walk from the Corso so you can drop by pre or post a visit to the beach.
If you’re looking for ocean views or a breakfast in the sun then Showbox won’t hit the mark. There’s no outdoor seating let alone sun drenched tables. And the fit out is more industrial than beach like, with brick walls, stools for perching versus sprawling and exposed pipework. But when the sun isn’t shining or you want to feast like a local who is in-the-know then Manly doesn’t come much better than Showbox Coffee.
The menu is long enough to require lots of deliberation before choosing. And the absence of familiar Sydney wide dishes got me excited. I’m talking the ‘Man Town’ protein plate, a ‘ranchers chilli bowl’, lemon and poppy seed hot cakes, and more. But don’t worry there’s plenty of safe options if you’re not a foodie risk taker – like the winter stew of slow roasted lamb with lentils, salsa verde & sourdough. And if you’re popping in for a take-away coffee then beware – you’ll be confronted by an array of muffins with your name on them…………
Unlike many new cafés Showbox Coffee isn’t trying to offer organic dishes packed with superfoods that claim to make your nails stronger and your skin glow. Rather the philosophy at Showbox appears to be turning simple and good quality produce into dishes that despite sounding extravagant and perhaps naughty in name are actually still really good for you.
Take for example the doner kebab. The name possibly conjures up memories of late night ‘I could eat anything’ moments followed by serious suspicions the next morning as to what meat the kebab included. Well drop those preconceptions at Showbox’s door – because their doner kebab is the kind of dish you could eat all over again the morning after. Luckily for me I got to have a good few man sized bites, thanks to my husband.
The kebab arrives mysteriously presented in a large foil wrapping. Only when the layers of foil are peeled back do you see the joys inside. And it only takes one very large bite to realise this is no ordinary kebab – indeed if the filling was presented in a bowl it would be considered a healthy salad. A generous amount of beef coupled with the flavours of eggplant, horseradish and hummus made for one of my husband’s lunch highlights of the year.
I still consider myself experimental with baked eggs in that I only choose this dish at places that go to the effort of putting their own spin on the standard ingredients. Showbox Coffee won me over with the additional of lentils and labneh. And thankfully they don’t use cage eggs.
Even if you don’t have a hungry bone in your body still go to Showbox Coffee Brewers. Why? The name gives it away. The coffee is one of the best I’ve had in Sydney in the last year. With beans from Mecca and Reuben Hills and experienced baristas on hand you’re guaranteed a great coffee. My only disappointment is not living close enough to Showbox to make it my coffee regular.
By Feast Wisely
- 02 9976 5000
- 19 Whistler Street, Manly NSW 2095
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