**Please note that this is a sponsored post. Although I received no monetary payment, I was invited to dine here free of charge. As always though, all opinions are my own.**
Yesterday I got to experience a most amazing lunch at the Manta Restaurant, and it’s honestly one I won’t be forgetting for quite some time.
Manta is located along the beautiful Cowper Wharf Road in Woolloomoolloo, nestled amongst a row of other restaurants overlooking the boat filled wharf. It was amazing to think that we were between such busy places like the Sydney CBD and Kings Cross, because it was so quiet in comparison. The wharf itself was alive and filled with people enjoying their lunch break in the sunshine, but it was nothing like the hustle and bustle that you would find in the heart of the city. And I think I preferred it that way.
We were greeted by the restaurant manager Ben and seated outside so we could lap up the gorgeous weather and do our favourite date hobby of “people watching.” He introduced himself, we had a chat about the restaurant, the history and the cuisine. Instead of us choosing our meals ourselves, we had him choose for us because Jared and I are both adventurous when it comes to food so we wanted to be surprised. We also decided we wanted a bit of wine too, so we were introduced to the resident sommelier who was so incredibly friendly, down to earth and explained everything in a way that we were able to understand. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to catch the names of all the wines we had, but everything he suggested worked so well. I was incredibly grateful to have him there for advice and a good chat.
Our first course was freshly shucked oysters, and a raw tasting platter of mixed seafood. Ok, I’m going to say this right now. As adventurous as I am, I have never been keen on oysters. To me, they seemed slimy and weird. But yesterday, they looked so beautifully presented, and came with two dressings – an eschallot based dressing and a white balsamic dressing. I had to give them a go. And I’m so glad I did. They were incredible. They tasted so fresh, smelled of the sea (not fishy at all as I was expecting) and the dressings added a slight tangy and flavoursome touch to them.
The raw tasting plate had kingfish tartare with spring onion, pickled radish, wasabi and citrus dressing, scallop ceviche with a thai style dressing and ocean trout belly carpaccio with horseradish creme fraiche and hazelnuts. Everything was once again, so fresh and so clean on the palate. The wine that was recommended by the sommelier cut through all the fattiness of the seafood and added a beautiful touch to the meal.
The next course was seared Atlantic scallops with carrot and cumin purée, green peas and vinaigrette. The scallops were cooked to perfection. The outside was lightly seared, with the centre still soft and sweet.
The main course was the market fish of the day, which changes based on what is available at the time. Yesterday we had the pleasure of having Padagonian Toothfish, which we were told was sustainably sourced, as is all of their market fish. This is a big thing for me, and any restaurant that supports eco-friendly sources of produce automatically wins with me. It made it even better that it was cooked beautifully. The skin was nice and crispy, with the meat soft, flaky and sweet. It was served with more carrot and cumin purée and asparagus.
The side dish we shared with our mains was their signature side dish, their “Angel Chips.” I have never in my life had chips this good. Herbed, lightly salted, beautifully crunchy on the outside, fluffy and light inside and served with parmesan cheese on the side. Instead of sprinkling all the parmesan on, we just dipped our chips into the parmesan instead and I found that was more than enough to get to a cheesy taste without it overpowering the chips.
We had the pleasure of trying the Manta branded Pinot, and it was divine. Not the usual accompaniment to this type of dish, but we really wanted to give it a go, and surprisingly it still complimented the meal well without overpowering or taking away from it at all.
The last meal was our dessert and it was phenomenal. Neither Jared or I are big dessert people. I usually prefer something savoury like a cheese platter over most cakes and desserts. But this one sounded far too good to pass up. Cacao mousse, filled with salted caramel cream and earl grey ice cream. The flavours of bitter, sweet and salty all worked in a delicious unison in this dessert. And the dessert wine that was matched (another made for Manta wine) was such a beautiful rich red colour and bursting with raspberry flavours. Raspberry and cacao, what a match!
Then we finished off our lunch with coffee and basically just sat in disbelief at the meals we just ate.
But to be honest, it wasn’t just the food that we were so happy with, it was the service. It was refreshing to see that even in fine dining, there are restaurants like the Manta that are still very down to earth in their service and atmosphere. I felt I could chat with the staff without feeling uncomfortable or out of place or out of my depth. It was just a really nice experience, one I absolutely love and will rave about in times to come.
Thank you Manta for having us, for the friendly service and the amazing food. We’ll definitely be back sometime soon!