Manta at Woolloomooloo offers waterside dining with city views. The restaurant is located midway along the wharf, past Aki’s Indian and China Doll.
The restaurant offers indoor and outdoor seating for 160 persons. The dining room is softly-lit with mirrors and overhanging candles adding an intimate touch. This is a place where you still find crisp white tablecloths – not the kind covered in butchers’ paper – Riedel glasses, Laguiole knives and service to match.
On a cold crisp night, you may be tempted to sit on deck by the waterside under the heaters but the lure of warmth and comfort wins over city views.
The kitchen is headed by chef Daniel Hughes who has been at Manta for nearly nine years. His menu is produce-centric with emphasis on seafood and steak.
The cocktail list is extensive with a section of “Manta Signature” cocktails. The Globe Trotter ($19) proves a good choice with which to start, a refreshing combination of Bombay Sapphire gin, muddled Kaffir lime leaf and cucumber, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, pear puree with a dash of lemon juice.
L-R: Hard Candy Punch, Globe Trotter
The Hard Candy Punch ($18) made with Mount Gay rum with Sailor Jerry rum with aperol and blood orange puree is another winner. The drink is well balanced with a mix of spice and fruit.
From the food menu, it’s difficult to bypass the oysters. A page is dedicated to some of the best oysters, sourced live from selected growers and shucked to order. The list impresses with a choice of Angasi, Pacific from Tasmania and Sydney Rock oysters from various regions in NSW.
Angasi and Sydney Rock Oysters
Angasi oysters ($6 each) are native and flat, a species that is five to eight years old and not often seen in Sydney restaurants. The oyster is a delicacy with vegetal and mineral characteristics while the Sydney Rock Oyster ($4.50 each) from Port Stevens has a more briny character with a touch of iodine.
The oysters are served with a red wine vinaigrette with eshallots, and green apple sauce with spring onions, black pepper and Chardonnay. They go well with a glass of Manta by Farr Chardonnay ($14) from Geelong in Victoria.
Tasting Plate L-R: Kingfish Carpaccio, Atlantic Scallop Ceviche, Ora King Salmon Tartare
From the Small Dishes, a Raw Tasting Plate ($24 per person) makes a light choice of an entrée. Start with the “Cobia” Kingfish Carpaccio with pomegranate, spring onion, white balsamic, hazelnuts and baby herbs. The flavour is fresh and delicate and work your way to the Atlantic Scallop Ceviche, with chilli, garlic, finger lime, baby coriander and topped with crispy eschallots. The thinly-sliced scallops pack a punch with the chilli and citrus while the fried eschallots lift the flavour. This is by far the pick of the three. The Ora King Salmon Tartare is best enjoyed last. It comes with thin beetroot, horseradish crème fraîche, mache and lemon oil.
The three dishes can be ordered individually in an entrée size ($17 each) and a glass of Wilson DJW Polish Hill River Riesling ($13) from the Clare Valley is a good match.
Seared Atlantic Scallops
For a warm starter, the Seared Atlantic Scallops ($26) with pressed pork shoulder, green apple, vanilla purée and balsamic glaze is the pick. Plump and juicy, the scallops are cooked well and the pork adds a little saltiness to the dish along with the crisp crackling.
From the Fish and Crustacean section comes the Cobia Kingfish ($43) with its Mediterranean flavours and colourful presentation. The fish is oven-roasted with a pine nut, olive and tomato crust, shavings of cuttlefish, heirloom tomatoes bursting with flavour, eggplant purée and a green olive tapenade.
‘Petite’ Eye Fillet
From the charcoal grill comes the 160g ‘Petite’ Eye Fillet ($47) from Rangers Valley in NSW, a 300 days grain fed Angus beef with a marble score of 3+. It’s a good cut of meat, cooked well at medium rare and comes with a slice of lemon and acchoice of either béarnaise, salsa verde and roasted chilli sauces. The structured Torbrek The Struie Shiraz ($22) from the Barossa Valley makes a fine accompaniment.
Manta ‘Angel’ Chips
Manta’s signature ‘Angel’ Chips with truffle oil and a side of Parmesan ($17.50) are a temptation to give into. Add the Parmesan to the hot chips and watch it melt.
White Chocolate Polenta Cake
Desserts take on a novel approach with the White Chocolate Polenta Cake ($17), compressed apple, roasted white chocolate and salted caramel ice cream. The dessert is light with a subtle chocolate flavour dominated by the moist polenta. The salted caramel ice cream is a standout on its own.
Warm Amedei Dark Chocolate Fondant
A chocolate fondant is difficult to resist at the end of the meal especially one that is artfully presented but unfortunately the Warm Amedei Dark Chocolate Fondant ($19) is a let down. The “fondant” was overdone and dry, with no liquid centre. Not even the red wine poached quince, salted coffee crumble and vanilla bean ice-cream could save it.
Dining at Manta comes with a price tag, but if you’re looking for a waterside dining or lunch venue with views, be it for special occasions, dinner for two or with friends, Manta ticks the right boxes. The food presents well, the ambience is welcoming and the service is friendly and professional. On weekdays, the restaurant also offers two tasting menus at ($69 and $89 per person) which include Manta favourites.
6 Cowper Wharf Roadway
Woolloomooloo, NSW 2011
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