Fresh produce from local farmers, unusual dishes for adventurous diners and degustations that can be lingered over for hours, Parramatta's fine dining scene is creative and fun, yet down-to-earth. These five restaurants are the cream of the crop.
Every ingredient on every plate at Courtney's Brasserie is traceable to a nearby supplier. The eggs are laid by free range chickens in Quakers Hill, the butter is churned by hand in Tempe and the cauliflower grows in Werombi. Established in 1984, the restaurant was one of the first in Sydney to champion local produce. Today, owner-chef Paul Kuipers maintains this ethos. The best way to experience Courtney's is via an eight-course degustation. However, those short on time can claim a stool at the recycled timber bar and choose from the snacks menu. Highlights include grilled Silverdale prosciutto with honey and blue cheese sauce, and Willowbrae goat's cheese and beetroot arancini.
Where: 30 Charles Street Parramatta 2150; (02) 9635 3288
When: Tuesday - Friday from 12pm and Saturday from 5:30pm
Lachlan's, Old Government House
For New South Wales' first ten governors, Old Government House, surrounded by leafy Parramatta Park, was a country retreat. Now, the World Heritage-listed building is open for tours and home to Lachlan's, a fine dining restaurant named after Lachlan Macquarie, governor from 1810-1821. Visitors can dine a la carte or, if travelling in a group, settle in for the chef's choice menu. Among the stand-out dishes are Tassie salmon with thyme-infused potato purée and lychee-lime salsa, and Black Angus scotch fillet with potato puree, mushroom duxelle, toasted puffed rice and roasted onion. On warm days, the long verandah wrapped in vines is the place to sit.
Where: Parramatta Park; (02) 9687 2662
When: Sunday - Thursday 10:00am - 5:00pm and Friday - Saturday 10:00am - late
Husk & Vine
Opened in June 2017, Husk & Vine occupies a stunning, 1840s building that once housed the Wheatsheaf Hotel. The centrepiece is a custom-made Beech oven, where flat breads are baked and lamb shoulders are roasted under the expert eye of executive chef Stephen Seckold (Flying Fish, Salaryman) and head chef Ashley Brennan (Sugaroom). There's a Middle Eastern flavour to the menu, which features share plates, such as yellowfin tuna tartare with spiced eggplant, cumin and pita chips; and whole butterflied chicken with chilli and lemon.
Where: 7/45 Macquarie Street Parramatta 2150; (02) 7803 2323
When: Open daily 6:30am - 10:30am, 12:00pm - 2:30pm and 5:30pm - late
Spending an evening in this two-storey villa feels a bit like taking a mini-holiday to Tuscany. Think internal archways, marble tables and plant-dotted terraces. The menu, overseen by head chef Andy Ambrose, combines modern Australian fare with Mediterranean touches. Dishes vary from signature bites, such as wild kingfish carpaccio with pomegranate, black currants, pine nuts, wasabi aioli and furikake, to large share plates, including ten-hour slow-braised lamb shoulder with Rosemary Diane sauce, green peas and micro greens. Don't miss The Emporium for your next special occasion.
Where: 51 Philip Street Parramatta 2150; (02) 9687 1955
When: Monday - Friday 7:00am - 10:00pm and Saturday - Sunday 8:30am - 10:00pm
Alex & Co.
At Alex & Co, which opened in August 2017, executive chef Kyle Quy (ex-NOLA) determines the menu according to which produce is looking freshest and tastiest at the morning market. All appetites are catered for, with small plates, such as cured scallops with wild lemon, sea asparagus, wasabi leaves and Champagne; and sharing mains, including slow-cooked pork shoulder with sprouts, white beans, nuts and sherry reduction. The 600 square metre, 350-seater space includes a bar, where drinkers can soak up river views over a signature cocktail, such as the Riverside, a heady concoction of dill-infused gin, chamomile, fresh citrus, white chocolate and absinthe mist.
Where: 330 Church Street Parramatta 2150; (02) 9194 4499
When: Monday - Friday 7:00am - late and Saturday-Sunday 10:00am - late