A meal at Manuka begins slowly, with a glass of wine, and dukka, an Egyptian preparation of ground seeds and herbs, served with olive oil and bread. From there, you work your way through a sophisticated table d’hôte menu (French inspired but with creative international twists) refreshed every two weeks according to availability of local ingredients, and the passions of the talented and delightful French-Belgian chef, Camille Pluymackers.
Pluymackers came to Moncton six years ago, after travelling, and eventually falling in love with local Monctonian Andre Leger. Two years later, they opened Manuka, a restaurant that has raised the bar for restaurants in Moncton, in terms of its attention to local ingredients.
“In France or Belgium, it’s really common that you use the ingredients of your region,” says Pluymackers. “I realized when I arrived here, there’s so much fast food, and people don’t take time, don’t really worry too much about what they eat… that was an important thing for me, to offer fresh, homemade food with local ingredients. It’s sad to say, but there are not many restaurants in the city that work with that philosophy.”
From homemade pastas to sous-vide beef sirloin, to comfort dishes like curries and shepherd’s pie, there is a fresh and delicate European flair to everything Pluymackers presents, a complement to her lighthearted approach to menu design.
“I usually never do the same dish,” says Pluymackers. “I get bored really quickly. If you come one month and you come the next month, and you take the filet mignon of pork, it won’t look the same. I love creative cuisine.”