fineVanessa: Is there a better way to pass time on a 42 degree November day than sitting wharf side with a crisp sauvignon blanc in hand and dining on fresh seafood? The answer is probably “yes inside with the aircon on” but nonetheless my friend and I spent a good part of the afternoon at Manta Restaurant & Bar in Woolloomooloo last Friday. My friend who is visiting from the UK (whom we shall refer to as LL i.e. London Lass) was well up for a spot of seafood and basking in the extreme weather conditions.
We were delighted by the perfectly positioned front table we were given which allowed for maximum people watching and water views. We got straight down to business with ordering our meals and a bottle of Cape Mentelle Sauvignon Blanc.
I just cannot resist sourdough when I see it on the menu so we ordered a serve of the organic sourdough & flat bread with black pepper, fennel seed, oregano and sea salt served with Manta’s extra virgin olive oil and white bean, paprika, roast garlic, walnut spread ($2.50). The bread was fresh and flavoursome but I felt the white bean spread was a little on the bland side..give me butter any day!
The heat of the day called for some freshly shucked oysters. We ordered half a dozen Sydney rock oysters which were plump and juicy. They were served with classic mignonette, lemon and white balsamic, spring onion, green apple & white pepper vinaigrette. These went down an absolute treat and we definitely could have ordered another half-dozen.
We also tried a serve of the pumpkin, pine nut, goat’s cheese arancini with brown butter and roasted almond aioli, sage ($15) – Amazing! These bite size morsels had a perfectly crunchy exterior with a soft, pillowy interior that was full of flavour. Would definitely put them on the reorder list for next time.
For our mains we both ordered a serve of Alfonsino fish which is from the snapper family. This came as a fillet with a macadamia-herb crust, baby globe artichokes and lemon thyme ($41). I would be lying if I didn’t share that we were both a little underwhelmed by this dish. The fish didn’t have any strong flavour at all and the macadamia crust..could hardly be described as a crust! It was a bit disappointing given the size of the fillet vs the cost. The accompanying sides were great and flavors worked well.
To round off our meal we ordered a serve of the vanilla and coconut creme brûlée, roasted new season plums, honeycomb ice-cream to share and boy am I glad we did! This dish redeemed any fault with our mains and really brought it home for us. A perfectly formed square serve of brulee with a shortbread base went so well with the citrus tones of the plums and coconut –who doesn’t love coconut!?! Coconut and crème brulee- genius combo.
You are of course paying a premium for the location so overall it’s by no means a cheap lunch, but it is a bustling atmosphere with a broad range of menu options. It was a shame about the fish but like I said the dessert made up for it!