The weather is finally warming up which means that it’s time to go out and enjoy the sunshine! And what better way to enjoy the sunshine than a nice meal by the water where you can hear the waves lapping up against the pier and feel the warmth of the sun on your back.
The Finger Wharf at Woolloomooloo is a great place to do this, as well as do a little bit of people watching while you dine. We visited Manta for lunch on a gloriously sunny day to celebrate The Cat’s birthday. We’d scored ourselves a voucher for 6 people for $259 – which came to less than $45pp for three courses. The set menu had a choice of three options per course, and also included a glass of house red or house white. Since we had a table of 6, we were able to order every item off the menu and I can safely say that all the dishes were delicious!
I started with freshly shucked oysters which included both the Pacific and Sydney Rock variety. The oysters came with a fresh lemon cheek, a sweet spring onion and apple dressing, and a tangy balsamic and pepper dressing. The oysters were deliciously briny and really didn’t need much more than a squeeze of lemon juice, but the spring onion and apple dressing also went quite well with the oysters.
Fried calamari was a popular choice at the table and it arrived as a jumble of crispy fried calamari rings with a sprinkling of chilli salt, lemon zest and parsley. The roasted black garlic aioli was a tasty dipping sauce for the calamari and even though I normally don’t like fennel, the pickled fennel on the side worked well with all the other flavours.
You could smell the seafood aromas of the Alaskan king crab bisque as soon as it hit the table. The soup was richly flavoured and had some hand picked crab meat in the centre, and was drizzled with some lemon oil which brightened the flavours of the soup.
For the mains, there was Manta’s fancied-up take on the classic fish and chips. Two King George whiting fillets were crumbed in sourdough and pan fried until crisp and golden. These were served with kipfler potatoes, roasted garlic aioli and a preserved lemon and dill dressing.
I went for the crispy skinned king trout which indeed had a crispy tile of skin on top of a perfectly cooked, slightly rare fillet. There were also some fluffy pillows of herb gnocchi, Alaskan king crab meat, brussel sprouts and a creamy celeriac puree accompanying the fish.
While Manta mainly focuses on seafood dishes, there are still quite a couple of meat dishes on the menu including a range of steaks cooked on a charcoal grill and this delicious, melt in the mouth piece of braised beef cheek. The grass fed meat yielded easily under the fork and was covered in a meaty glaze. Served alongside the beef cheek was a smooth quenelle of truffled mash, roasted winter vegetables and gremolata. The weather might be warming up but I would eat these beef cheeks any day of the year!
To finish off, we selected one of the three dessert options. I decided to opt for the cheese plate which came with three cheeses – a soft, creamy Buche d’Affinois from France, a sharp, hard Pleasant Ridge Reserve cheese from USA and a stinky blue St. Agur from France.
A warm green apple strudel was the second dessert option. Soft apple pieces were encased in a crisp pastry, and served with a carrot crumble, pear, vanilla anglaise and ginger ice cream.
The star of the desserts though was the warm Amadei chocolate fondant, which oozed with luscious liquid chocolate when it was cut open. It came with poached quince, a salted coffee crumble and vanilla ice cream, and was rich and delicious. I think everyone who ordered the fondant basically left nothing on their plates!
Manta was the perfect location for a lazy, indulgent lunch and we saw lots of diners happily sipping on drinks and enjoying the sunshine. I also spotted quite a few people ordering the fish pie which smelled amazing, so (if I can stop myself from getting the beef cheeks) I’m totally ordering that next time!
6 Cowper Wharf Rd
Woolloomooloo NSW 2011
Ph: +61 2 9332 3822
Open 7 days, 12pm-3pm and 6pm-10pm