Sydneysiders are certainly spoilt for choice in fine dining with spectacular views, and one of our favourite restaurants – perched on the edge of the city’s sparkling harbour and always delivering excellent cuisine – is Manta Restaurant & Bar. The ‘Bar’ part is highlighted as equally as the restaurant since Manta encourages patrons to sit by the bar or out on the wharf, to soak in the crystal harbour view and relish divine morsels from its extensive menu.
For something simple but memorable, try one of their Glamorous Gourmet Duos, offering three premium types of caviar – beluga, oscietra and ocean trout roe – with a signature Manta Martini, or the simple dish of Spanish Joselito Iberico Jamon De Bellota (imported acorn-fed black pig, naturally cured over three years – it’s a mouthful to pronounce, but you’ll be ecstatic you’ve asked for it with just one bite) teamed nicely with a glass of crisp Dom Perignon.
Other highlights of the bar menu include the Manta Raw Plate – delicate servings of seafood accompanied by seriously delicious condiments. One taste of the Hiramasa Kingfish Carpaccio with Sicilian capers, shaved fennel, radish and orange, or the King Prawn Ceviche with garlic, chilli, lime and basil, and I swore I would be ordering one as a full entree and the other as main on my next visit.
Also on the seafood tip, there’s the Char-grilled Octopus, freshly shipped from Western Australia, balanced nicely with shreds of baby fennel, watercress, fregola, chilli, garlic and vinegar; and the seared Atlantic Scallops served with pancetta, asparagus, leeks, King Brown mushrooms and sweet corn.
Where bar food often falls into one of two categories: stocky like the average steak, sauce and chips; or too fine that you can’t tell the real food from the garnish, Manta delivers cocktail cuisine that is divine in presentation, superior in freshness, superb in taste and – once you’ve shared three or so dishes with a friend – substantial enough to consider a meal.
Head chef Daniel Hughes and sommelier Lyndon Stenning are often on hand to recommend dishes and wines for the full dining experience. Or you can just lounge back and continue with the cocktails while the sun sets, like we did.
Our recommended drop: the Manta Sunset, made with peach nectar, Aperol liqueur, Belvedere vodka and a touch of fresh lemon juice, served with a cinnamon-sugared rim and maraschino cherry. Cheers then!
Pictured clockwise from top left: Spanish Joselito Iberico Jamon De Bellota with Dom Perignon; oysters and martini; the Manta Raw Plate; and the Sydney sun setting, view from the bar.