Waterfront dining in Sydney has always been a highlight of living in this glorious city, but anyone who’s been to their fair share can tell you that glory is not always guaranteed. Fortunately, the reincarnation of Manta on Woolloomooloo’s coveted finger wharf is proving Sydney’s still got it.
The interiors at this Sydney seafood restaurant are now light, warm and appropriately summery, and the menu has a nice balance of go-to favourites and creativity.
We start with a selection of oysters, eating our way around the South all the way up to the Northern coastline of NSW. This is how any good seafood experience in Sydney should start, and true to Manta’s mantra (say that five times fast), they keep it classic and reliably delicious with the dressings and squeeze of lemon.
What follows elicits a lot more oohing and ahhing however: a gorgeous tasting plate of the raw scallops, Queensland bugs and ocean trout, which disappear faster than anyone would care to admit to later on. There are a few more novel flavours here (pomegranate and sorrel for the scallops, hazelnut cream and capers with pickled French shallot), and we’re more than happy to have our usual seafood horizons expanded when they taste this fresh.
By this point we’re already pretty impressed, but then the knock out arrives. It doesn’t look like it’s going to change your life, but this is no ordinary blue swimmer crab “lasagne.” You expect it to be good (because who the heck doesn’t like crab and Moreton Bay bug in pretty much anything), but it’s the crab bisque sauce that gets everyone’s eyes widening. I really have to try hard not to ask for another little flask of it to drink straight.
The short rib is the next dish to take us by surprise, because let’s be honest: the meat can often be a bit of an afterthought at a seafood restaurant. Yes, it falls apart like any meat cooked for 24 hours probably should, but it’s the flavour that has us hooked. The eye fillet that accompanies it is gorgeously tender too, but we get slightly distracted because the ‘angel’ truffled parmesan chips come out, and we kinda lose our minds a little.
The dessert tasting plate is a perfectly light way to finish, featuring plenty of berries and passionfruity touches. This is much appreciated because by this point we’re feeling substantially heavier than when we started. Fortunately there’s an enforced break before tucking in because we all have to get a photo of this one (double points if you can get the water in the background!).
There’s no guilt in these pleasures either, because the Manta team have committed to finding sustainable seafood and ethically raised meats for the menu. All of which makes this a very feel-good spot to appreciate the water and what’s come from it.
Image credit: Cole Bennetts