Giddy Up to Steeds, Rydges Parramatta!

  • Fine dining
  • Grill and Bar
  • Good coeliac knowledge
  • Friendly staff

After spending the day at the gluten free expo, we had one meal left in Parramatta before leaving. Eating while travelling is usually a stressful and time consuming process. You need to do a lot of research, filtering through reviews, online menus and food blogs.

Finding somewhere to have dinner on the Saturday night took a lot of time and effort. We started in the centre of Parramatta at the Westfield. We’d been to the expo earlier that say and then head into the town for some shopping. Around 4.30 we were tired and hungry and decided to start looking for a place to eat safely.

After checking trip adviser for options, I decided to call Bondi Pizza on Church street. The man I spoke to was lovely, stating that their gluten free pizza bases were made off site and bought in however, they were cooked in the same oven as the other pizzas, so cross contamination was a problem and we decided not to risk it.

Next, we considered Thai food – a trusted and reliable staple in most cases. We found Thai-riffic on Street, also on Church Street, just outside the Westfield. When we entered the restaurant, I explained to the staff member at the door that I was coeliac and needed to have food prepared separately due to cross contamination. She looked blankly at me while I explained, then turned around and walked off without saying a word to me. This was another no, mostly because the staff member was weird and rude but also because I got the distinct feeling the staff didn’t know anything about coeliac requirements.

Then we considered Phoenix Restaurant and Chef’s Gallery, two Chinese restaurants in the Westfield that had average food reviews but did have gluten free options, but after having mediocre food the night before (see my review of Restaurant 317) we decided against them too. Eventually, all super hungry, pissed off and tired, we returned to our hotel, the Rydges Parramatta. We figured that I could at least get a steak from room service that should be safe.

When we got back to the hotel, we headed to Steeds Club Grill and Bar. We found ourselves going through a small hallway before entering a fairly large semi-circular room.

The room was quite dark and felt like a classy bar in the 1970s. Despite the size, it was quite an intimate space with heavy curtains along the large semi-circular windows and wall. There was relaxing music playing and it was a very comfortable space, although Michael and I both felt a bit underdressed in jeans!

Steeds bar and grill panorama

Steeds Club Grill and Bar is the hotel’s fine dining restaurant providing “contemporary, modern cuisine”. As you’d expect from this type of restaurant, the staff were friendly and professional. I explained that I was coeliac and the staff member confirmed there’d be no problems.

The restaurant was not particularly a particularly child friendly environment, and it’s not the sort of place we would usually have taken Milly. All the staff were very friendly though and they did have one high chair. It’s worth mentioning that we were eating early and the place was empty when we arrived so Milly (who was hungry and tired) didn’t cause too much of a disruption.

We had a look over the drinks menu, Michael ordered a glass of the 2009 Brothers in Arms No.6, and I had a cranberry juice. We browsed the food menu while we waited for our drinks. There was a good range of items with a choice of five different mains. Three of these were marked gluten free.

After a short period, a staff member bought over our drinks and took our food order. Michael had the Hawesbury smoked duck breast, I ordered the South Australian blue eye cod, and we got an heirloom tomato side for Milly to eat.

The Brothers in Arms wine was a red. Michael was happy with the wine, saying that it started off fairly average but improved the more he drank! He had quite a large glass (which he didn’t finish all of) and it cost $20 a glass so it should’ve been good!

Gluten free bread with truffle butter

While we waited for our food, we received some complimentary gluten free bread with a truffle butter. The bread itself was nothing spectacular, with the usual density of gluten free bread. It was a little chewy and slightly burnt on the edges. The truffle butter provided a little burst of umami that was nice.

The food came out quickly and was nicely plated. The mains were good but as we ate, we realised that the food descriptions on the menu did not match the food on the plate.

Firstly, the heirloom tomato salad was missing the buffalo mozzarella. After eating a few pieces, we realised what was missing and notified a staff member who apologised and bought some out for us. With the cheese, the tomatoes were very enjoyable. They were fresh, firm, and sweet. The mozzarella complimented and cut through the sweetness nicely. There was a little basil pesto dressing in the bottom of the bowl and this needed a stronger flavour, as it was too delicate and hard to distinguish with the tomato and mozzarella.

Michael’s duck breast was good and well-executed. The duck breast itself wasn’t very smokey, but it was perfectly cooked. It came with green tea and broccoli puree, pressed micro vegetables and a sherry jus. This was a gluten free option.

The blue eye cod was delicious. Again, it was a well-constructed dish. It came with a small jug of ham hock broth on the side which was salty and smokey. The cod itself was beautifully cooked with tender white fish and a crisp, salty skin.

South Australian blue eye cod

The prawn mouse was smooth and delicately flavoured but it cut through the saltiness, and the beetroot was well cooked with a gentle acidity. There was also a small prawn ‘cake’ on the plate too. This was delicious with fresh prawn meat, although it was unexpected because it was not on the menu. In addition to this, there were some items missing from the plate that were on the menu. All up, the blood orange, and potato puree were missing, and the prawn cake was an unexpected addition.

After our massive day, we decided we should treat ourselves to dessert. We had another look over the menu. Of the four dessert options, two were gluten free. Michael went for the homemade marshmallow (which contained gluten) and I went for the compressed apple log.

The desserts came out after a short wait. Again, they were both nice but did not match the menu descriptions.

The marshmallow was very sweet. It came with a crunchy cone of chocolate (not on the menu) which contained the cranberry jelly. This was not as tart as cranberry usually is and Michael believed it was more like raspberry jelly. The praline contained peanuts and was very nice. The dessert was missing the warm salted chocolate sauce stated on the menu and Michael said it needed something a bit sour to cut through the sweetness.

Marshmallow (left) and compressed apple log (right)

The compressed apple log was not what I expected but still good. It was a well-balanced dish with sweetness from white chocolate filling against the tartness of the raw apple and a smooth, clear apple sauce. The vanilla crumble was made from almond meal and quite tasty, adding a different texture to the creaminess of the filling and the crunch of the apple slices. The jelly had a slight hint of toffee flavour.

In total the two drinks, two mains, side dish and two desserts came to $158.00. As we had joined the Rydges Priority Guest Rewards scheme, we received 20% off which took the total to $131.00. Even though the menu descriptions did not match the dishes themselves, the meal was well worth the money.

Steeds would make a lovely spot in summer for a relaxing dinner date. The service was great and the food was delicious and well executed.

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