*Manta Restaurant Sydney– “Stylish Ambience and Pride of Provenance”
*Shared from Connoisseur Magazine Australia
Experience Australia’s Finest Produce from one of Sydney’s most iconic Waterfront Locations
A lot has happened since I first visited Manta after returning from a long stint in London. This place is really buzzing and one of the “Uber-cool” Sydney places to visit for the Food and Wine and also to be seen.
“Manta is located in a prime position on the iconic Woolloomooloo Wharf,… Manta boasts beautiful views across the Marina to the Botanic Gardens and the city skyline. Manta Restaurant has long been a great seafood dining experience offering guests a sophisticated ambience and glimpses of Sydney Harbour glamour.”
Manta apparently was a Sea God that, according to ancient Celtic mythology, was the provider of wellbeing and pleasure and “spread good health to all marine creatures”.
Thursday 10 February 2022, 7pm – $180pp
Oysters 4 ways
Katnook Estate Riesling Coonawarra 2019 (150ml)
Abrolhos Island scallop ceviche, avocado, lime, jalapeno (2pc)
Katnook Estate Sauvignon Blanc Coonawarra 2019 (150ml)
Grass fed 300g lamb rump, salsa verde, XO green beans, truffle mash
Katnook Odyssey Cabernet Sauvignon Coonawarra 2015 (90ml)
Katnook Cabernet Sauvignon Coonawarra 2017 MAGNUM (90ml)
Assortment of international cheeses
Katnook Prodigy Shiraz Coonawarra 2017 (90ml)
Katnook Estate Shiraz Coonawarra 2017 (90ml)
“I have visited the restaurant on several occasions over the years, and last time was lucky enough to attend a fabulous Chapoutier (Rhone Valley) Wine Dinner where the wine and food was curated perfectly and I felt like I was in an exclusive Club.
Rob Rubis and Team are “really slick” now,..(Insiders comment that Rob is no longer distracted by his other Restaurant ventures and can really focus on this prime property and what a result!,…They have introduced a stylish Tasting Room in a more private part of the Restaurant and its great for mingling with other Guests and winemakers alike. Previously I have dined “tout seul” on the beautiful Wharf Terrace, with only the attractive waitstaff and sommeliers for company,…but I have always enjoyed mixing with colleagues in Hospitality,.. so that has never been a problem! On a perfect summer’s evening, when the magnificent view of the Sydney City lights and the water lapping on the yachts and reflecting the light certainly adds to the mood here. Not surprisingly there are invariably many tourists and locals “promenading themselves along the wharf and taking in the smell of the briny sea air and enjoying the atmosphere!”
The overriding impression is that you are on a Marina near the Mediterranean, only with a Sydney skyline for a backdrop!
Manta is adjacent to some other top restaurants including China Doll and the famous Ottoowned by the Fink Group,..it is a fashionable place to dine and there is no shortage of local and overseas stars and celebrities frequenting the wharf. You might spot them whilst having a drink at the famous Manta Bar now rechristened as Molo Bar –where simplicity is the ultimate sophistication!
I guess that Manta is “that kind of place – a little brash and flash, and a bit showy!” but that is what makes it exciting. and so, just so Sydney!
I had been warned by a girlfriend “in the know” to try the cocktails: “You must try the cocktails, there are some genius combinations,” she said. Unfortunately, as I was already on a vinous path, I desisted but enjoyed watching some Margheritas being made, and they looked fabulous and were very tempting.
So whilst the Cocktails are reputedly excellent, for me, it’s always preferable to start an evening with a good glass of champagne and a flute of Veuve Cliquot Ponsardin the quality of which has improved immeasurably, under the new Chef du Cave will do just fine!. It’s been said that Manta has one of the most vibrant outdoor bars Sydney has to offer!
The restaurant has a simple philosophy, the owner Rob Rubis and head chef Daniel Hughes are committed to sourcing the finest products available in Australia with particular focus on seafood and meat. According to Daniel, the seafood is sourced daily from the best local produce available, with no compromise. Their own Fishmonger selects whole fish from Sydney Fish Markets daily. As regards the Crustaceans, the lobsters and mud crabs are delivered live by air from Tasmania and Northern Territory and then held in an on-premise tank until ordered.
“Manta’s seafood menu changes daily and reflects the “seasonal bounty of Sydney’s magnificent Seafood Markets”. The Chef’s philosophy is to prepare the Seafood (both the shellfish and the fish) in a simple manner, to maximize the natural flavours of each. Oysters, for which Manta is famous, are sourced from selected growers and change according to the season, and “hand shucked to order”. Whilst I didn’t consume any oysters, I registered the fact that they cost $4.50 per piece and you can choose either Angasi(native flat) from Merimbula, Pacific or Sydney Rock oyster from a variety of locations. The price seems reasonable for the quality.”
In addition Manta prides itself on its high quality steaks and beef!
The Chef has a long-standing relationship with Clayton Wright of Wright’s Butchers, and together they select meats from the best producers in Australia (particularly from northern NSW and Queensland) ranging from $45 to market price for wagyu.
The steaks are not cheap, but when you consider the provenance and the traceability and the attention to detail, of both the meat and seafood, the prices are more than justified.
I generally enjoy starting any meal with fresh crusty bread and olive oil (or olives) and some dry white, and the quality of the bread and Virgin Olive oil here is excellent and doesn’t disappoint. I like to commence my dinner with an entrée described in the Menu as a “Raw selection of starters” comprised of “Carpaccio of king salmon belly, horseradish crème Fraiche, smoked salmon jelly, and a tartare of hiramasa kingfish, shaved fennel, green apple, spring onion, hazelnut and a seared Atlantic scallop, carrot & cumin purée, shaved asparagus, green peas, hazelnut crumb.”A good accompaniment is the Farr Manta Chardonnay (Geelong) and I duly noted the dish itself was fabulous!
In regard to starters, I might add that on a previous visit I tried a light lunch consisting of the Spaghetti of handpicked Alaskan King Crab Meat, garlic, chilli, white wine and grape tomato with which I was very impressed, as I got the impression it had been prepared in Milan! I
t was accompanied by an outstanding glass of Italian Pinot Grigio Babo Pinot Grigio L’isolanoItaly(which had a hint of barrel ageing and a seductive complexity that one doesn’t often encounter).
Of the main courses I have now tried several Variations of Grilled Salmon,..and they have always been excellent! –Way back it was the “King Salmon with Crispy skin, Cauliflower textures, tomato, Alaskan King Crab meat and tarragon (farmed in the Marlborough sounds)” that impressed in terms of presentation and appearance. (It was cooked medium rare and the flavour and texture were superb. The crispy skin added an additional“surprise”.) But this has now been superseded by the likes of the above pictured “Pan-fried ‘Petuna’ ocean trout, Tas, cauliflower purée, hazelnuts, broccolini, white balsamic or another variation on the A La Carte Menu,.. Pan-fried ‘Petuna’ Ocean Trout, (Tas), – $45 House-made red curry & coconut sauce, roasted parsnips, pearl barley, kaffir lime.
Exquisite and the Salmon is thankfully undercooked …Delicious!
As regards the wine list, it features an impressive selection of mostly well-chosen wines, many of which I have seen on my travels around Europe! It is not often that a restaurant has invested in such a large Cellar, containing a selection of “mature wines and classics” with a range of different vintages. I suspect that the cellar here would put many other top restaurants to shame.
So little wonder that Manta has been awarded the Best Wine Cellarthen none other then GAULT MILLAU,..the French Foodies Bible.
As to the main course, what I can remember best of all,… on a previous visit on a Summers Eve,..,..when consigned to the Terrace,..I didn’t bother looking at the Menu or conferring with Jack “the amiable waiter” who was serving me, as “my mind was wholeheartedly set” on the Steak from the Charcoal Grill and I was not to be disappointed!
I ordered a Medium rare Sirloin described in the menu as a 300 gm Sirloin, garlic, parsley and primo extra virgin olive and O’Connor Gippsland Victoria premium Angus Steer Ox, Grass or Pasture-fed with a marbled score 2-4.
Quite a detailed description I would say and it was served with my favourite – béarnaise sauce.I must admit the steak was first class and cooked to perfection, and probably one of the best steaks I have had.
I have since reflected that Premium quality steak (from well-sourced and aged meat) can be far pricier in various restaurants in Europe. The flavour and texture were impressive, and it was perfectly done. The steak was accompanied with Mantas legendary French fries, garnished with Parmesan and truffle oil and a Rocket salad which was “super-fresh and crunchy/nutty (although I am not convinced the peach goes that well with the Ruccola). (Sirloin Steak $46.00, truffle chips are $17.50 and Ruccola salad is $10.50)
Incidentally, I was “blown away” by the2010 Torbreck the Struie Shiraz which accompanied the main course. This dense Barossa Red came in a “fully topped up” Riedelglass and the price of $22.00. More than reasonable when compared with prevailing prices in London or New York.
As a matter of fact, I have never seen a good steak for anything less than $80.00 (plus trimmings and service) in New York. And similar prices prevail in London and other European cities. Even a mediocre glass of wine starts at $15.00 “so one should be grateful for small pleasures!”
In evaluating places like this one should be mindful of putting these things in perspective and considering all the factors. The web is “full of drivel”, as we know so many facile blogs (in portals like TripAdvisor)and others tend to contain equally opinionated and ill-informed critiques and conclusions.
With so many “instant experts” around, it is clear that a percentage of these people get their assessments terribly wrong, yet they can write “the most poisonous diatribe” with no fear of any consequence and total impunity! It’s clear that many diners have “unrealistic expectations” and the inability to consider things in a balanced and rational manner, and in context. Not surprising after a bottle of wine I guess?!
In the case of Manta, the location of the venue, the provenance of the food, the magnificent setting (on the water at Woolloomooloo) and a whole host of other factors need to be digested and taken into account.
The food is beautifully arranged and presented and yet, if you go for the Tasting Menu Manta is now surprisingly affordable considering the ambience and quality of the experience when you consider that the Seafood and the meat is of the finest quality and that the management here is “ahead of the curve” in regard to the now “in vogue issue” of “provenance and traceability” (the salmon that I had, for instance, is on the table within 48 hours of being caught in NZ) Well done Rob RUBIS and his remarkable Team!