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When you think of fine dining in Sydney it's not often you look westward, away from the city and the restaurant-heavy suburbs that crowd around it like Surry Hills and Darlinghurst, towards the urban sprawl of the western suburbs.
However it's no secret that Parramatta is the geographical heart of Sydney, and much of our best produce makes the trip over the Blue Mountains from the western plains, so it's not a huge leap to arrive at Steeds Club Grill and Bar, Rydges Parramatta in-house restaurant.
Shawn Pyne, Area Executive Chef NSW for Rydges Hotels & Resorts, has created a strong menu at Steeds that makes the most of the great fresh produce that is available in the local area.
My dining partner and I kicked off the meal with olive sour dough with a balsamic reduction and mixed dips ($10) while we decided on our orders and perused the wine list - a broad offering that covers many of Australia's top wine regions, including the local areas of Orange, Mudgee and the Hunter. Befitting a steak-focused establishment, the wine list boasts an excellent array of Shiraz (though was a bit short on my preferred Pinot Noir).
I chose the beef ceviche with citrus, rocket and shaved fennel, and finished with a Chardonnay dressing - although I was a whisker away from ordering caramelised sea scallops with turtle bean ragout, black pudding & bordelaise sauce ($22 entree). The ceviche was fresh and light but just a touch heavy on the citrus flavours.
The dining partner opted for the salt & pepper soft shell crab ($22 entree), which was served with a Thai fish cake, snow pea tendril salad & miso lime dressing.
While the obvious choice for the main meal was the steak (there's the choice of Black Angus sirloin, rump or scotch fillet, or the very tempting Steeds signature 250g kobe striploin, sourced from Queensland), I bucked the trend and ordered the market catch of the day ($33), which tonight was marlin. This turned out to be a spectacular-looking dish served pan-fried with inky risotto nero, baby calamari & agrumato oil. I savoured every mouthful.
My companion also made the surprising move of ordering the trio tasting plate over the famed steak. Comprised of small serves of three dishes from the main menu, the trio tasting plate is a winning dish for the indecisive diner.
The braised grain fed veal cheek ($34 main), accompanied by buttered winter vegetables & pepperberry jus, was melt-in-your-mouth tender. Lamb also starred in the tasting plate, an oven roasted fillet ($35) with Irish champ mash, minted pea puree & bordelaise jus. The aforementioned marlin with it's delicious murky risotto finished off the plate.
As you'd expect at a restaurant located within a prominent hotel chain, the hospitality was top notch. It wasn't hard to be charmed into trying dessert, a superlative wattle seed pavlova ($15) with passionfruit reduction & kiwifruit glaze, by our friendly and attentive waiter even after we'd each tried a picture perfect pistachio macaron.
It would be a shame to restrict the excellent dining experience offered by Steeds Club Grill and Bar to just the guests at Rydges Parramatta. Steeds is a great starting point for Sydneysiders interested in dining well off the beaten path.
Steeds Club Grill & Bar
116 James Ruse Drive