In the first year of our relationship, The Boyfriend and I had a sort of bad weather curse over us. We rarely had an opportunity to meet during the day, as he works full time (as opposed to me, the carefree uni student with a ten hour per week timetable) – and every time we did manage to meet on a Saturday or on an occasional day off, it would rain.
Perhaps that’s why our visit to Hugo’s one sunny spring Saturday, around this time two years ago, was so memorable to me. We took the ferry from Circular Quay across to Manly, and strolled down the esplanade searching for a place to have lunch, when we stumbled across Hugo’s at the wharf. We ordered:
Tasting plate for two: salt and pepper calamari with rocket, chilli sea salt and lemon aioli; four rock oysters with sherry vinegar and shallot vinaigrette; hiramasa kingfish, thinly shaved fennel, pink grapefruit, finger lime and black olive puree; fresh fig salad with prosciutto, buffalo mozzarella, rocket and apple balsamic vinegar.
Angel hair pasta with rare tuna, chilli, capers, garlic, parmesan, rocket and extra virgin olive oil
Margherita pizza: roma tomato, buffalo milk mozzarella, parmesan and fresh basil
Hugo’s is known for its award-winning pizzas, but while I found them nice, they weren’t spectacular (we’ve been back twice since then, and every time the pizza was so-so).
The tasting plate was wonderful, simply divine. It might have had something to do with the fact that I’m a massive seafood lover - I love all kinds of seafood – fish, crustacean and shell-fish alike! We started with the small and succulent oysters, which sat on a crystalline bed of rock salt. The sherry vinaigrette was a little overpowering though. Oysters are best had with a squeeze of lemon and some tabasco, in my humble opinion! We then moved onto the salt and pepper calamari, which wasn’t at all tough or leathery, as squid/calamari can be, and the batter was light and crispy, not floury or over-fried.
It just kept getting better and better. The hiramasha kingfish was absolutely beautiful. The raw fish was cold, chewy, and sweet – its flavour set off wonderfully by slivers of pink grapefruit. Finally, the fresh fig salad, which was a very well-balanced combination of classic flavours: prosciutto, juicy sweet figs, rich tasting rocket leaves, the softest chunks of mozzarella, and a zesty but sweet-edged balsamic dressing.
I actually liked the angel hair pasta best, much to my surprise. It was fresh and light, and the drizzle of olive oil was perfect. I have a feeling that there was some sort of lemon vinaigrette in there too, since there was a sort of gauzy, gossamer colour to the oil? (It wasn’t just a clear gold as olive oil normally is) In any case, I’m not a fan of sauce-based pastas as they feel far too heavy. I’ll maybe occasionally go for a carbonara if I’m in the mood for something creamy, but normally I’ll lean towards an aglio olio, so this pasta was my idea of perfection! I couldn’t get enough of those lightly seared cubes of tuna either. Have I mentioned that I’m a seafood lover?
Hugo’s is located @ Shop 1,Manly Wharf/East Esplanade Manly NSW 2095, (02)8116 8555