Historical excavations, modern surroundings and comforting cuisine are combined with excellent taste at Husk and Vine Kitchen and Bar in Parramatta. It's the latest culinary venture of chef Stephen Seckold of Flying Fish fame. Seckold is working with head chef, Ashely Brennan to create an inviting destination to meet friends and linger over appetising meals. Stephen’s presence, however, isn't the only interesting aspect to this fantastic addition to the evolving Parramatta dining scene.
Firstly, Husk & Vine is the first restaurant to be established by the Crown Group (not associated with the Crown Casino brand). It's situated under the V residential apartments and Parramatta's first luxury five-star SKYE Hotel Suites. The boutique hotel itself is an exciting detour from Crown's usual residential properties. Husk & Vine is designed to service both the apartments above as well as providing guests staying at the SKYE Hotel Suites access to room service and a top notch in-house dining facility which offers an all-day breakfast and lunch menu as well as a modern accessible dinner offering.
Secondly, Husk & Vine is situated at 45 Macquarie Street, Parramatta, so it has history oozing from its foundations. You don't need to be a history buff to know that Parramatta is Australia’s second European place of settlement. It was established in desperation as a farming area in the first few months of the First Fleet’s arrival by Governor Arthur Phillip. Back then there was a real possibility everyone living in Sydney Town would die of starvation as Sydney Cove was not proving a great site for agriculture and stores from England were disappearing well before they could be replaced via new shipments. Essentially, this means that scratching the surface of the streets of Parramatta will most likely equate to finding historical relics. This was certainly the case when the Crown Group started excavating the site at 45 Macquarie Street. What they found were the remains of an 1840s convict hut, Wheetwright’s workshop and the cellar of the Wheatsheaf Hotel – one of Parramatta’s oldest pubs. The discovery changed the course of the development but in a really good way.
Seeing the opportunity to preserve and display Parramatta’s history and to tap into the community’s interest in the past, the Crown Group incorporated the dig into the precinct. The public, residents, and visitors to the hotel and the restaurant can cross over into the past by stepping down into the outdoor archaeological display and interpretation centre complete with a glass floored viewing platform. The rustic theme is carried through to Husk & Vine Kitchen and Bar via its name and a clever modern installation that sees sandstone rocks encased in vertical lattice walls. The menu has a leaning to the rustic as well with its focus on Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines. You'll see share plate options like flat breads, pides, roasted large cuts of meat such as whole lamb shoulders with harissa, okra and chickpea stew, and whole birds.
At the official launch attended by Sydney Scoop, guests were treated to a magnificent share table array of comfort style dishes, smooth wines, refreshing non-alcoholic sodas like strawberry and lemon myrtle, and creative cocktails straight off the dinner menu. We were able to mix and match dishes such as a tangy grapefruit, pink peppercorn and swordfish crudo with crispy lamb ribs in a date and tamarind glaze – a combination that bounced off each other -- the rich deep glaze punctuated superbly by the citrus of the swordfish. Also in the mix was a dish of za’atar fried chicken bites suitably rubbing shoulders with burrata cheese and garlic bread. I decided to match this course with the CRFT "Chappel Valley" Pinto Noir, Adelaide Hills.
For the main course a standout for me was the hand cut pappardelle I had been staring at most of the night hanging up drying in the open kitchen. The texture of the pasta was velvety and soft on the tongue. It was coated in a silky smooth butternut, goats cheese and pinenut sauce. This was a great accompaniment to the deliciously rich and satisfying lamb shoulder stew and the country style butterflied chicken cooked in chilli, lemon and paprika. It was like attending a cosy family dinner. The food was cooked well and with care and not too much messing around - especially evident in the simply cooked and presented fresh vibrant carrots and chat potatoes. The Express Wine Makers Melbec, Great Southern WA was a perfect match. For dessert I opted for the pistachio and raspberry bombe Alaska. A traditional crowd pleasing sweet treat created in a modern style.
Throughout the evening, service was gracious and seamless, and the kitchen team worked together like a well-oiled machine. The surroundings had a glam wow factor (albeit with unique rustic touches), not unlike you would find in a Sydney CBD restaurant. The event was a very enjoyable experience.
|7/45 Macquarie Street|
|+61 2 7803 2323|
Mon – Sat 6.30am to 11pm