The Boathouse Shelly Beach is the fourth, and the newest, of The Boathouse Group. You can find here our reviews of The Boathouse Balmoral and The Boathouse Palm Beach. We have not reviewed their other venue, Moby Dicks, yet as it is only open for weddings, conferences, small events and other special occasions.
The one at Shelly Beach, round the corner from Manly Beach, is the first of their venues to open to the public in the evenings for dinner. They also take reservations here for dinner, but unfortunately not for lunch. I guess they don’t know how long guests will want a table for, as like us on Saturday, they may stay for cocktails after lunch and only leave when they realise the coffee machine has been turned off!
Before launching into the review proper, I should add that part of the joy of coming here (if you live south of the Bridge) is in the journey, not the destination. Whilst I love the venue, you simply cannot beat a ride on the Manly ferry on a sunny day! They say that Manly is “7 miles from Sydney and a 1,000 miles from care”. Once, you arrive at The Boathouse, it will feel more like 2,000. Luckily it only takes half an hour by ferry these days (or 20 minutes if you catch the fast ferry). The Boathouse is a 20 minute leisurely stroll from Manly ferry wharf, and a picturesque one at that. Don’t get distracted by Ben & Jerry’s take away shop though, or Manly Winery. Keep your eyes on the bigger prize.
When I had lunch here on Saturday with 2 friends, we arrived about 2pm hoping very optimistically that everyone would have had their lunch and gone home, leaving us a selection of tables. However, having found the recipe for success in Palm Beach several years ago, I think they are constantly busy from when they open at 7am until when they close after lunch at 4pm. Please note, they stop serving the lunch menu at 3pm, although they do serve delicious cakes, refreshing drinks and coffee until 4pm. They then slow down and clean up, before resetting for dinner at 6pm.
It didn’t take us long to get a table though. We found one for two people very quickly, which we though we could squeeze 3 onto. Then we found a larger table for 5 or 6 with 2 people already sitting there and they luckily agreed to share. After about 10 more minutes, we grabbed a large table to ourselves and moved for a fourth time to a smaller table, where we would not have to share.
I ordered their signature dish; Beer Battered Flathead and Chunky Chips. It did not disappoint. The chips, in particular are divine and the fish melts in the mouth. We also shared a bottle of the Phillip Shaw ‘Pink Billy’ Rose which was just how a Rose should be and great value at $39 a bottle. After lunch, we all enjoyed a refreshing Watermelon Margarita which would be perfect on a hot day; but be warned, it has a bit of a kick!
This is the perfect place to catch up with friends, relax in the sun, pop into after snorkelling at Shelly Beach, or simply grab a take-away coffee from their kiosk. One tip – the secret to getting a table at The Boathouse Shelly Beach (or any of The Boathouses in fact) is to be flexible. And communal.