Forget everything you think you know about the Steyne. Sure, once you may have happily donned a flak jacket and mouthguard to visit this long-standing Manly watering hole. But with a snazzy new facelift the troublesome hot spot has done a swift 180 and it looks like smooth sailing from here on in.
In an effort to quite literally provide something for everyone there are three separate bars, a bistro dishing up coastal pub grub, a late night pizza bar and a café called the Rope and Anchor. They say you can’t please them all but with a block of land the size of a small Pacific island the Steyne is determined to give it a red-hot go.
On the western side you’ll find your old man public bar for the drowning of sorrows. It looks like it hasn’t been touched in over 50 years and that is why we love it. The round Art Deco bar has been lovingly restored with the original brown-brick and cream tiling – a rare sight in a modern city pub. It seats multiple generations side by side as they down schooners of Old Kent Brown - the other black gold.
Any wall with even a hint of ocean views is given over to massive gleaming windows. Sink into one of the deep booths that line the walls and watch the breakers roll in while you wait for your fish and chips or steak and mash. There are no surprises on the menu here, but a crisp piece of battered flathead when you are staring down the Pacific Ocean is bound to be a crowd-pleaser.
By day the vibe is family friendly. There are big communal tables, sturdy furniture and plenty of space so you can bring the whole clan. Vintage Coca-Cola posters depict good clean fun and the soundtrack of '60s and '70s rock’n’roll recalls the golden age of Australian surf culture. In a half-hour stretch we clocked Elton, Fleetwood, Marley, Beatles, Bowie and Stones – solid musical gold.
What’s a pub meal without a schooner or two to wash it down? The central bar is given over to craft beers with local brew 4 Pines in pride of place. Plus there’s White Rabbit, Three Sheets, Long Board, Matilda Bay, Lord Nelson, and the subtly gingery Kiwi, Monteith's Summer Ale.
Come quitting time, make like Fred Flintstone and hotfoot it to the awesome, pirate-themed Moonshine Rum and Cider Bar on the top floor. There are 16 ciders on tap and another 40 in bottles, as well as a cupboard of rum that Jack Sparrow would happily sell a kidney to get at. The furniture has been designed with giants in mind but there is a nostalgic joy to be had in swinging your legs while you down an icy glass of Apple Thief pink lady cider.