Stop time and unwind at Manly’s colourfully chill cafe Groundhog Social
Have you ever pondered what you’d do if you were trapped in a recurring Groundhog Day-like time loop? Perhaps you’d catch up on your reading, or consume all those TV shows you’ve been meaning to watch. We’d hazard a guess that the foodies amongst us would be jubilant at the prospect of bingeing their favourite eats over and over again without consequence. Well, Manly’s Groundhog Social is a new hotspot that aims to deliver the same kind of precise and consistent experience every time you take a seat. If you’re seeking a delicious day starter or a sedated sundowner, Groundhog Social’s got you, babe.
The crew behind Holland Park West boozer Three Brews Bar know a thing or two about running successful suburban locales. After opening their beer-oriented haunt next door to their established caffeine joint Deedot Coffee House in late 2018 (seemingly creating a go-to hub for locals overnight), the itch to open a third community-oriented cafe became hard to resist. In early 2019, the group kickstarted a six-month citywide search for an ideal spot, eventually discovering the perfect space on Manly’s Esplanade, nestled a short distance from the suburb’s business centre, boat harbour and Bayside Park (which is also the Manly home of Jan Powers Farmers Market). Although initially setting out with a modest goal of opening a small neighbourhood noshery, the unexpected boon of nabbing this sizeable Manly space necessitated a change of approach. Soon, the plans morphed to include a laid-back nighttime service in order to maximise the venue’s proximity to local landmarks, but in order to accomodate this conceptual pivot the building’s interior needed to be gutted and transfigured significantly. During this fit-out period, the existing dark floors and roof were replaced, the kitchen was bolstered with some new gear, windows were replaced, cushy booths were installed, a takeaway coffee and pastry window was added, and the entire venue was given a few licks of vibrant peach, mint and white paint. This drab-to-fab makeover has resulted in Groundhog Social, which opened in early December last year. The reception from the local community was strong and immediate – the entire 120-seat venue was packed from open until close with lines out the door, forcing the team to install a second cold room and postpone the commencement of night trading until 2020. With processes nailed down and a few weeks of trade under its belt, Groundhog Social is now hitting its stride – aiming to cement its status as a community mainstay, by achieving uniform quality across food, drink, ambience and service.
The fun starts at breakfast, when head chef Christopher Kelly (formerly of Deedot and Industry Beans) dishes up classics reimagined with some modern twists and home-style warmth. The menu will have you umm-ing and ahh-ing over the likes of oat-milk wattleseed panna cotta, buttermilk pancakes with poached plum, pumpkin-hash bennies with burnt-butter hollandaise, prosciutto omelettes and baked eggs in a spiced lamb-mince ragu. Coffee Supreme is the roaster of choice, with the South blend in the grinder for milk-based coffee and rotating single origins for black, batch and cold brew. As the day plods on, a collection of lunch meals come online, including wagyu bugers, salt-and-pepper squid with saffron and pear puree, fish of the day served with potato foam and miso mushrooms, and nutritious roast vegetable bowls with house-made beetroot hummus. A sizeable selection of cold drinks offers milkshakes, build-your-own juices, smoothies, house sodas and sparkling iced teas. Groundhog Social has now commenced trade on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, changing gears to offer a more communal tapas-style menu best enjoyed with a sunset and side of tidal breeze. On the drinks front, internationally renowned wine and spirit writer Tyson Stelzer has helped craft Groundhog Social’s wine list, which is bolstered by a seven-tap selection of draught craft beers (all local), a selection of premium spirits and a clutch of cocktails to boot.
Keen to check out Manly’s new multi-faceted hotspot? Find the venue’s contact details and opening hours in our Stumble Guide.
The Stumble Guide is our comprehensive Brisbane dining guide with more than 2400 places to eat, drink, shop and play.