3 March 2022

Five minutes with Manny Notaras, CAPHS Cafe Bar and Restaurant

| Evelyn Karatzas
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Man with coffee

Manny Notaras at Caph’s, Manuka. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Who is Manny Notaras? I’m the owner of CAPHs Cafe Bar and Restaurant Manuka and have had it for over 30 years.

Best recent dining experience: I’d say it was at Hellinika at the Calile Hotel in Brisbane – I loved the authentic Greek food with a modern twist. The food was fresh, simple and delicious.

Outdoor seating

There’s plenty of outdoor seating at Reload and Token in the city. Photo: Supplied.

Most embarrassing pantry item: Probably instant packet sauces – very embarrassing, I know!

Must-buy ingredient: Olive oil for sure. You can’t go wrong with it, and you can use it on everything!

Next big thing: Due to COVID-19 impacting the hospitality industry a lot over the last two years, I think the next big thing we’re going to see is expanded outdoor dining.

Cafe D'lish sandwich

Manny loves the old school egg and lettuce sandwiches from Cafe D’lish at Deakin. Photo: Supplied.

Favourite place for breakfast in the ACT: Anywhere that does a traditional big breakfast. Alternatively, I can’t go past the Benny Burger from Bean and Table at Kingston Foreshore.

My Canberra food secret: There’s nothing like an old school egg and lettuce sandwich from Cafe D’lish at Deakin.

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Biggest culinary influence: Probably Manu Feildel because I think we share the same philosophies when it comes to creating simple food and having a good sauce. Manu hit the nail on the head with his famous “where is the sauce?”

Favourite cookbook: Anything Nigella Lawson. I like watching her cook.

Ottoman Cuisine

Ottoman Cuisine is moving to an exciting new location and venue this year. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

Who I admire on the Canberra food and wine scene: I think I would say Serif Kaya from Ottoman. I have admired him for a very long time as a very successful fine dining guru in Canberra.

What’s on the menu this week: Chicken souvlaki due to the lack of access to affordable veal or meat at the moment.

Sydney rock oysters

Manny says oysters and fresh lobsters would be his death row meal. Photo Michelle Rowe.

Where I’m going next: Hopefully I get to go overseas this year to Greece and around Europe to enjoy some international food now that the borders have opened. It’s been too long!

Death row meal: Oysters Natural and fresh lobster with lemon butter. They’re my favourite – I love fresh seafood.

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COVID-19 response: With very little support from the hospitality lobby groups in the ACT and extended periods of restrictions with indoor dining, some small businesses took it upon ourselves to lobby the ACT Government to expand the outdoor dining areas in Canberra.

We had a very successful one month trial during November and have been trying to convince the Government of the benefits ever since. Expanding outdoor dining is the only way the hospitality industry will survive into the future.

Countries overseas are currently experiencing the next disastrous wave of COVID 19 during winter.

This tells us the next wave is coming, which means more restrictions again on indoor dining. Businesses would be prepared to invest in innovative ways to keep Canberrans warm dining outside during our cold winter months if we had a guarantee from the government for a long term solution.

My really simple recipe tip: Keep it simple and tasty- I enjoy food that is simple and tasty and doesn’t require a lot of effort.

Caphs is located at 36 Franklin St, Griffith, and is open seven days, 8 am till late.

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Was the outdoor dining trial in Franklin Street really a success? No one has published the results and whether they met any targets. A lot would need to be done to better design the narrowed street (or close it off). The trial made it look like a construction site.

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