THERE is a lot of talk about ‘newest’ and ‘hottest’ in restaurant reviews these days. While fresh venues are exciting, sometimes is worth re-visiting old favourites with an established track record. Which is how I found myself sitting on the Woolloomooloo Wharf on a perfect Sydney winter day. Manta is an established Sydney favourite, owned by seasoned restauranteur Rob Rubis and overseen by executive chef Neil Hughes it has been plating up superb seafood for over 15 years. And what else would you want to eat this close to the yachts and the harbour.
Over time there have, of course, been some refurbishments and refreshing to both the menu and the venue. Latterly Steve Hetherington (@chef.stevehetherington) has moved up the ranks from chef de partie to head chef; with a self-confessed devotion to ‘letting the fresh produce shine in a dish’. There is a commitment to using sustainably caught, local produce, hence the freshness of everything we eat. Freshly sucked oysters and a smoked, raw, smoked and cured tasting plate wake up the taste buds. Followed by one of the restaurant’s signature dishes: a small, round lasagne of blue swimmer crab from South Australia, served in a heady crab bisque.
Daily sustainable market fish is line caught by Chris Bolton (@chrisboltonfishing) in the waters surrounding the Great Barrier Reef, so it’s good to ask what’s the catch that day. For something a little different try the Miso Glacier 51 Patagonian Toothfish (from Heard Island in the southern ocean) it is a strong rich flavour balanced by the sharpness of shaved cabbage coriander and palm sugar vinaigrette.
It isn’t just the fish that is good, grass-fed Beef is sourced direct from the owner’s farm in Texas, Queensland. As for the hand cut truffle and parmesan ‘angel ‘chips. Suffice it to say, we know why they got their name. Dessert from new pastry chef Aren Edye (@aren_edye) includes piquant pistachio and polenta cake and chocolate tart, milk chocolate ice cream, with textures of chocolate.
What makes an excellent restaurant? Manta owner Rob Rubis says It is a thousand little things beyond just food; service, smiles, ambience, even how the tables are arranged.
One wintery day in Sydney a thousand things aligned to make one perfect lunch.
Manta runs a series of wine Dinners, next up: M.Chapoutier Wine Dinner, 24 July and The Escarpment Wines Dinner, 8 August. Details: www.mantarestaurant.com.au/whats-on/
Hilary Doling, Posted 09/07/19