If there's a solution to the winter blues, it has to be a hearty meal. In fact, a frosty evening is the perfect excuse to gather around a table with friends and settle in for a long feast. With this in mind, many of Parramatta's chefs have been busy in their kitchens, creating winter menus filled with comforting dishes – from coconut porridge to beef cheek stew. A meal at any of the eateries listed here is sure to cheer up even the coldest, darkest day.
Inspired by Germany – where winter means snow, ice and bitter winds – the Bavarian Bier Cafe definitely knows how to warm up its customers. Nearly every dish on the menu has consoling powers, from the "famous" crispy pork knuckle with mashed potatoes, apple compote, red cabbage and onion bier jus to the chilli garlic Kinkawooka mussels with white wine, tomato and parsley. The German-style craft beers – served in steins – go a long way in beating back the cold, too.
2-8 Phillip Street Parramatta 2150; Open daily 11:00am - Late. Visit The Bavarian website.
A bowl of piping hot pho – beef noodle soup – is a cure for nearly any troubling phenomenon, winter included. One of the best in Parramatta is at Pho Pasteur, a Vietnamese restaurant founded in 1992 by Mr and Mrs Pham, who fled Vietnam as refugees in the 1970's. Their pho gets its exceptional flavour from a combination of rare beef, brisket, meatballs, tendon and tripe. Vegetarians might prefer the eggplant hot pot.
137 Church Street Parramatta 2150; Open daily 10:00am - 10:00pm; Visit the Pho Pasteur website.
The Coffee Emporium
With a backdrop that is reminiscent of the streets of Paris, The Coffee Emporium flagship coffee house on Phillip Street not only offers a beautiful setting but a delicious Winter menu. Popular with regulars, the shakshuka with Waygu beef meatballs brings delicious Middle Eastern flavours to life. Newly added to the menu, the almond milk porridge with puffed quinoa granola and eye-catching caramelised banana is sure to warm you up in no time.
51 Phillip Street Parramatta 2150; Open Monday 7:00am - 4:00pm, Tuesday - Friday 7:00am - 10:00pm, Saturday 8:30am - 10:00pm, Sunday 8:30am - 5:00pm. Visit The Coffee Emporium website.
The Bells Road Social
Also dishing up heartening lunches throughout winter is The Bells Road Social, in Oatlands – around three kilometres northeast of Parramatta CBD. The winter vegetable salad is a multi-coloured crowd of roasted parsnip, beetroot, zucchini, onion, carrot, sweet potato, grilled halloumi, spinach leaves and dijon vinaigrette, with optional grilled chicken or lamb. There's also a chunky beef pot pie, served with chips and salad. Expansive windows and high ceilings let in plenty of natural light.
1 Bells Road Oatlands 2117; Open Tuesday - Friday 7:00am - 3:00pm and Saturday - Sunday, 8:00am-3:00pm; Visit The Bells Road Social website.
Husk and Vine
Husk and Vine's winter offerings are all about bold flavours and innovative combinations of local produce. Among the most tempting is the Angus beef cheek with pearl barley, chorizo, black garlic and salsa verde, as well as the salmon with smoky mash, Shimeji (East Asian mushrooms) baby onion, leek and burnt butter. The menu encourages sharing, so this is a top spot for a cheerful mid-winter gathering with the nearest and dearest.
7/45 Macquarie Street Parramatta 2150; (02) 7803 2323; Open daily 6:30am - 10:30am, Midday - 2:30pm, 5:30pm - late; Visit the Husk and Vine website.
BCD Tofu House
This Korean eatery is devoted to that most magnificent of winter dishes: the mighty soup. As the name suggests, tofu soup – called 'soondubu jjigae' in Korean – is the headliner. Numerous varieties are on the menu, from tofu with fish roe to tofu with beef tripe. What they all have in common is impossibly soft beancurd and a warming, spicy broth.
10/74 Rawson Street Epping 2121; (02) 9868 4300; Open daily 11:30am - 9:30pm
Getting out of bed every morning can be the toughest challenge of winter. But it's conquerable when breakfast at Circa Espresso awaits. At the top of the winter menu is bread and butter pudding, with banana, date and cinnamon, topped with spiced orange jus, glace chestnuts and Pepe Saya creme fraiche. Circa's cosiest spot is the pint-sized room up the back, dotted with paintings and books.
21 Wentworth Street Parramatta 2150; Open Weekdays 7:00am - 3:00pm and Weekends 8:00am - 3:00pm; Visit the Circa Espresso website.
Pablo & Rusty's
Another breakfast worth abandoning the blankets for is the slow-cooked coconut porridge at Pablo & Rusty's at Sydney Olympic Park. This vegan-friendly dish comes with coconut milk, mixed berry compote, LSA and toasted almond-and-coconut crumb. At lunchtime, swap it for red wine-braised lamb shanks with quinoa, roasted pumpkin, baby spinach, grilled haloumi, capsicum, pine nuts and mint. The outdoor seating is ideal for soaking up some winter sunshine.
Jacarandah Square, cnr Dawn Fraser Avenue and Park Street Sydney Olympic Park 2127; Open Weekdays 6:00am - 3:00pm and Saturday 7:00am - 2:00pm; Visit the Pablo & Rusty's Website.