I forgot where I was. As my plate was cleared, I spotted a rogue pearl of smoked salmon roe on the table and, before I realised what I was doing, I had popped the shimmering morsel into my mouth.
At home, I would unashamedly do this 10 times out of 10. Salmon roe, in all its squishy glory, is a hit with my taste buds.
But at The Emporium? Poor form.
Luckily our waiter, Dan, either didn’t spot the faux pas. Or, if he did, he politely ignored it. Thank you, Dan. For that and for your attentive and friendly service throughout the night.
A whole lot of new Sydney restaurants are opening in Parramatta, much to the joy of locals. The Emporium—a restaurant slash café slash bakery slash coffee roastery—is just one of many eateries to have moved in over the past 12 months.
It was a long time coming—there were several delays with the launch date—but it has proven worth the wait. Chef Robert Cannon (of Pony Lounge and Dining fame) has delivered an impressive modern Australian menu with a Mediterranean tilt and, combined with the rustic Italian décor, The Emporium meets popular demand for more high-end options on the Parramatta food scene.
Since eating is my favourite pastime and Parramatta is my hood, this wasn’t my first visit to The Emporium but it was my first look at the dinner menu. It did not disappoint.
Needless to say, the roe was good. Good enough to eat off the table. So too was the gin and Earl Grey tea cured king salmon with lemon sago on which it was served but, thankfully, I didn’t spill any of that.
The menu is at this new Sydney restaurant is designed to share, which is a fantastic excuse to order too much. And order too much you should.
We started with Sydney Rock Oysters. Actually, I lie… we started with a cocktail. My cosmopolitan hit the spot and the husbo’s gin martini with a twist—a drink he orders almost everywhere we go and is very particular about—got the hard-earned tick of approval. On to the oysters and we had a choice of natural, sake and lime granita or caramelised red wine vinegar and eschallot. Choose? Ha! One of each, please! All deliciously ocean-fresh but victory belonged to the latter.
The fried cauliflower salad was a star of our meal. The native currants, pine nuts, mint and rocket were the perfect complement making for a robust and quickly demolished dish.
The lamb shoulder—an item on the specials board that I now realise was a silly thing to order for reviewing purposes—fell apart beautifully and was devoured quickly. It’s a dish certainly worthy of an upgrade to the permanent menu.
And talk about melt in your mouth—I could have cut the slow-cooked beef short ribs with my thumb. It was accompanied by a maple glaze, watercress, pickled eschallot and orange and caper salad chimichurri.
“Can I tempt you with dessert?” Oh Dan. Little do you know I was eyeing off the dessert menu before we even met.
I don’t have a sweet tooth. I have 32 sweet teeth. Yet, oddly, dessert menus have, for mine, been slowly venturing into disappointing territory over the past few years as flavour and high-calorie satisfaction have made way for experimentation and deconstruction. Not so at The Emporium. I could have ordered any of the three desserts on offer but went for the chocolate and hazelnut delice with salted caramel pecan ice cream. Flavour and high-cal satisfaction well and truly achieved.
Satisfaction was also delivered by way of the wine list. It’s a great mix of local and international wines at both entry-level and high-end prices. I can personally recommend the Fattoria di Bagnolo Chianti Sangiovese.
If you find yourself in Parramatta, The Emporium is definitely worth a visit. If you don’t find yourself in Parramatta, The Emporium is definitely worth the effort.
Come summer, things get even better. A private dining room (upstairs) and a cheese bar (in the Erby Place courtyard) are both set to launch by December. A rooftop bar is also in the pipeline. ETA TBC, but hopefully ASAP.
See you there!
Image credit: The Emporium