Manta Restaurant serves up seafood delights

Showcasing colour, flavour and unrivalled quality, the winter seafood specials at Woolloomooloo’s Manta Restaurant are almost too good to be true.

Traveller: Samantha Rowntree
Address: 6/6 Cowper Wharf Roadway, Woolloomooloo, NSW 2011
Date: 4 August 2023
Dining style: Contemporary seafood and steak house
Perfect for: Celebrations
Catering for: Couples, private dining and celebrations
Dish to dine for: The lobster pasta
Price range: $$$
Operating hours: Lunch and dinner

Nestled within Sydney Harbour’s bustling restaurant district of Woolloomooloo Wharf, both Molo Bar and Manta Restaurant enjoy spectacular views of Sydney’s cityscape. We begin the evening at Molo Bar with a pre-dinner cocktail. This Italian wine bar is owned and operated by Manta Restaurant and the two venues sit side by side within the dining strip. It’s a great place to set the mood for an evening out, where guests can sink into the dimly-lit ambience and sip sophisticated libations while tapping a toe to some funky music. 

A blue tiled bar
© Molo Bar

Once our glasses are empty, we pop next door where a hostess directs us to our seat in the alfresco dining area, which has fantastic views of the city and the water. The clever table arrangements and strategically placed plants make us feel as though we have the restaurant to ourselves. Behind us, the restaurant seamlessly blurs the line between indoor and outdoor dining, with high ceilings and contemporary design. 

Seafood Indulgence Special 

Although Manta has an extensive à la carte menu, our hearts are set on the seafood winter specials. Manta has curated two delicious options to choose from, servings of lobster or a seafood selection. The ‘Seafood Indulgence Special’ menu is a three course indulgence comprised of oysters, seafood chowder, prawns, bugs and a selection of sides. While usually priced at $130 per person, Manta is currently offering a limited-time special of just $65 per person. 

Manta Restaurant
Lobster Special © Samantha Rowntree

Winter is Lobster at Manta

The ‘Winter Is Lobster at Manta’ option presents diners with a one-kilogram live Port Stephens lobster served two ways. I’m a sucker for lobster, but not so much the price tag. Usually marketed at $300, this lobster special is now flying at an affordable $140 and serves two people (perfect for date night!). Naturally, this is the offer we choose.

The hostess suggests we start with the country bread which is made inhouse. It arrives presented as two thick slabs and accompanied by soft Coppertree Farms butter, confit garlic and herbs. The sommelier greets us and proposes some wine pairings for our meal. I have a beautiful light semillon and my partner has a tasty pinot noir. Manta’s extensive wine list features the best of both local and international wines, and even won the award for Australia’s Wine List of the Year in 2022. 

People eating seafood
Image courtesy of Manta Restaurant

The first course arrives, a half-lobster pasta mafalda topped with dashi, ginger, tomato and a hint of lemon. The pasta is al dente, the lobster is generous and cooked to perfection. We inhale the dish and leave the plate sparkling clean. 

The second course comes out just as we begin to feel ready more. The grilled lobster with prawn XO sauce and Manta’s famous truffle fries is the star. The lobster is tender and soft, peeling right off the shell. The XO sauce isn’t overbearing, instead complementing the buttery lobster. I see why the truffle tries are famous, seasoned to perfection with a truffle and herb combination. 

Manta owner, Rob Rubis, holds 35 years of hospitality experience beneath his belt and delivers farm-to-table service. Rob and his team source seafood from Manta’s sister cooperative, Fishermen’s Wharf, in Port Stephens, whose team know the fishermen and the farmers that catch and raise the produce coming into Manta. It’s guaranteed fresh and sustainable local produce – and it shows in every bite. 

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