It will re-open soon; please keep checking the website for updates.
Alhambra Café and Tapas Bar is known to be one of Manly's favourite dining spots, featuring a selection of dishes from southern Spain and north Morocco. The atmosphere at Alhambra does not disappoint: a warm, earthy colour scheme produces a comfortable, homely feel, with Moroccan tapestries, wall rugs and mosaic tiled flooring adding a majestic finish to the interior. The bar is considerably large, situated in the centre of the restaurant. Tall mahogany stools encircle the bar, perfect for grabbing a social drink on its own or before a meal. The dining area itself is also sizeable, suitable for both casual dining and larger groups.
New to tapas? For those who are unfamiliar with tapas, it is simply a selection of traditional Spanish cuisine, served in smaller portions. They can otherwise be seen as snacks, canapés or finger food, and can be practically anything from a chunk of tuna and an olive skewered on a toothpick, to Spanish omelettes and shrimp on garlic, or anything in between. Both cold (such as olives or cheese) and warm dishes are offered, and tapas are usually served in miniature clay dishes. The serving of tapas is said to be designed to encourage conversation because people are less focused when they are consuming an entire meal.
The menu at Alhambra offers both tapas as entrees and bigger meals such as tagines and paella as mains. The tapas menu contains the usual suspects – grilled baby octopus, Harissa prawns, lamb broquettes, Moorish meat balls, chorizo sausage, braised mussels, crab croquets… and that's just getting started. My personal favourites were garlic mushrooms and patatas bravas – the flavours were distinct and definitely branded an impact on my tastebuds. I found the servings generous (on a tapas scale), and two to three tapas servings per person will probably be sufficient to keep you satisfied, maybe even stuffed.
The Moroccan tajines are beautifully presented, served in a conical clay dish in which tender meat is simmered with a medley of aromatic ingredients or seasonings such as dates, honey, saffron, ginger, cinnamon and fresh or preserved lemons.
Drinks proved to be a stimulating experience – we ordered Moroccan mint tea, which arrived in a gold-plated ornamental teapot to be poured into small Moroccan glasses.
All in all, I was blown away by both the food and overall dining experience. The service was reasonably good, despite the wait staff's persistent attempts to take quick orders. However, as with any tapas restaurant, be prepared to splash out to get the most out of the experience.