For theatre-goers heading to Riverside Theatre, Eat Street and beyond offer a culinary adventure that crosses continents. Anyone on a budget can dine until they're bursting at old-school spots like Honey Persian Restaurant and Nonna Maria's. Meanwhile, fancier feasts are available at El Phoenician and the Novotel's 350 Restaurant and Lounge. The five eateries listed here are an excellent starting point, but, in Parramatta, your choice is almost endless.
Honey Persian restaurant
This no-frills space, hidden away off George Street, offers one of the best value feeds in the City. With a 20 dollar note in your hand, it's possible to arrive starving and leave with an overloaded stomach. Sharing with friends is the way to go, so a variety of dishes can be sampled — from kashk e bademjan (eggplant dip with caramelised onion, saffron and mint) to ghormeh sabzi (lamb and veggie stew with lime and coriander). The experience is all about kicking back and relaxing: no one's watching watches, chefs included. Diners heading to a show should leave themselves plenty of time.
67/55 George Street; 0401 800 219; open daily, 10:30am-8:30pm; www.honeyrestaurant.com.au
Hot pots crowded with simmering prawns, skewers loaded with garlic-marinated quail, platters packed with dips, tabouli and shawarma lamb, El-Phoenician takes the Lebanese passion for sharing and places it smack-bang in the heart of the City. Every dish features fresh, local produce and is based on ether a traditional recipe or a signature innovation. When there's an hour or two to spare, a banquet is the best option. The simple, elegant interior, with its white table cloths and comfortable banquettes puts the emphasis on the food.
328 Church Street; (02) 9633 1611; email@example.com; open Monday, 5pm-late, and Tuesday-Sunday, 11:30am-3pm and 5pm-late; www.el-phoenician.com.au
350 Restaurant and Lounge
At 350 Restaurant and Lounge, the Novotel's in-house restaurant, head chef Kiki changes the menu at the beginning of every season with dishes reflecting Australian and Asian influences. A good place to start is an entree of soft shell crab, followed by twice cooked pork belly with cauliflower puree, crispy pancetta and brussel srout, then dessert, in the form of peach trifle with lemon curd and blood orange sorbet. There's also a grill, where premium cuts are cooked to perfection.
350 Church Street; (02) 9630 4999; open Monday-Friday, 6am-11pm, and Saturday-Sunday, 7am-11pm
Since opening more than two decades ago, Temasek has had a constant queue outside its door. Like Honey Persian Restaurant, this Malaysian-Singaporean eatery is a bit shy, being tucked away down a laneway. But there's nothing reticent about the cheery, bright yellow walls—or the food. Head chef Susan Wong dishes out some of the tastiest Hainanese chicken, chilli crab and laksa served outside of Singapore. For cooling down afterwards, there's the ice kacang, a pile of shaved ice topped with a multi-coloured combination red beans, jelly and syrup.
71 George Street; (02) 9633 9926; open Tuesday-Sunday, 11:30am-2:30pm and 5:30pm-9:30pm
Nonna Maria's feels more like the kitchen ofan Italian family home than a restaurant. Behind the ivy-fringed door is a room straight out of the 1970s, complete with red-and-white gingham table cloths, plastic chairs and plates piled with mountains of traditionally-made pasta. Every dish—from the fluffy sweet potato gnocchi to the hearty osso buco—comes with complimentary bread and a jug of freshly-squeezed lemonade. Come dessert-time, the home-made tiramisu is difficult torefuse.
56 Phillip Street; (02) 9689 1112; open Tuesday-Sunday, 5pm-10pm; www.nonnamariasplace.com.au