Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Travel Diary :: Things to see, taste and do at the PARKROYAL Parramatta:

Now for something closer to home but not that close as it’s still a 40 minutes drive from home – a weekend escape to the bustling precinct of Parramatta. For those who have followed me on social media and Instastories, you probably would have seen that I’ve been out the Western Suburbs a lot for food tours (run by Taste Food Tours) and there is a lot of cuisines, authentic and done to a high standard out west that you won’t taste on the North Shore, South, Sydney CBD or Eastern Suburbs. You will only experience it by being out west. The Western Suburbs is the ultimate cultural foodies experience.

If you want a true Middle Eastern and Indian fare you go to places in Parramatta, Harris Park, Fairfield or Merrylands. A food blogger told me if you want good Malaysian/Singaporean street food and laksas then Temasek (7 George Street, Parramatta) is the one to try, which I did and I had the chicken laksa and that has to be one of the best I’ve tasted in Sydney. It was very authentic and comparable standard to the ones I tried in Singapore. For Middle Eastern Lebanese food, El-Phoenician I love, not only because of the large portions of Lebanese plates but because of the bellydancing entertainment on Saturday nights and the atmosphere. For Indian, everyone’s favourite is Chat Kazz (it’s for vegetarians and it’s on 14 Station Street, Harris Park – try the Indian breakfast!).

So for the first time as a Sydneysider I made my way out to Parramatta for a staycation thanks to the PARKROYAL Parramatta. I’ve been on the many weekend trips now to know how to pack light, with packing what I think I need and then halving each time and so caught the train from home to Parramatta. The interchange was at Central Station and I have to say Parramatta station is a lot more modern than Central Station and better for luggage carriers because of lifts and escalators. There are no escalators at Central Station!

The PARKROYAL Parramatta is about a 10 minute walk from the train station and it is a relaxing, modern and comfortable stay out Western Sydney and you may want to stay there because you have a wedding out that way on the weekend (and there are some beautiful wedding venues in Parramatta) or you simply want a weekend away with a touch of class because you have family you need to catch cup with and also craving a bit of culture and want to taste cultural food without having to battle Sydney traffic on the weekend. 

If you are training it to Parramatta, you come out of the Darcy Street exit and walk through St John’s Park along Church Street. As I walked along the path on St John’s Park I notice the Parramatta Farmer’s Market was set up and the lovely people at the PARKROYAL Parramatta later told me these are on every Friday. 

There’s a good variety of cultural street food at these markets and I tried Coconut Coffee for first time made with organic coconut water. If you like the coconut, you’ll like the hint of coconut flavour in your coffee. I originally was planning dining at the hotel for lunch but it was such a beautiful day and the markets were on so I decided to go outside and wander. I couldn’t resist Turkish street food, gozlemes from Gozlemes King for lunch. I might have to go back next time to try the Greek yiros as the queues were long for them (usually a good indication of whether it is good or not).

I settle in my suite which is modern, clean and comfortable and it was lovely surprise to see complimentary baked cookies and a fruit and nut chocolate mix on the table from Cocoa Rush Chocolate Café in Rydalmere. I took them home and they were delicious with a cup of tea. The concierge was quick to take my bags and put them in your room.

I enjoyed a weekend in style and indulged in the Love That Club Weekend Package where I had access to a range of Club privileges at PARKROYAL Parramatta. I received sparkling wine and chocolate truffles (and biscuits0, complimentary parking, access to their exclusive Club Lounge, state-of-the-art gymnasium, swimming pool as well as complimentary Wi-Fi. This is a great value package at $249 a night, offering a gateway to explore one of Sydney’s most vibrant precincts in Western Sydney. The Club Lounge is open all day with an executive breakfast service from 6:30am to 10:00am, all day non-alcoholic refreshments, as well as twilight drinks and canapés from 5:30pm to 7:30pm. Early check-in of 12:00pm and late check-out of 2:00pm is on offer and subject to availability. The Club room I stayed in had a nice views of the City of Parramatta, was modern, stylish, clean and cosy space, with a comfortable queen sized mattress. 

I looked around the hotel and its surroundings when I arrived. There is a gym and pool in the hotel if you feel inclined to use them for fitness otherwise Parramatta Park is not too far away too and looks like a good place to run as well to see the historical buildings like Gatehouse Tea Room (where I stopped to have a cup of coffee and made a note to revisit for high tea when I didn’t have so many other food options) and also Old Government House which stands in 200 acres of parkland overlooking historic Parramatta. It’s convict-built Old Government House and garrison buildings built in 1799-1816, the oldest surviving public buildings in Australia. For seven decades, it was the ‘country’ residence of ten early governors pioneers including Lachlan and Mrs Macquarie who, from 1810 to 1821 preferred the clean air and space of rural Parramatta. Also, Gatehouse Tearoom is one of the oldest High Tea venues in Australia, a building, built in 1887 is a significant part of the colonial history of Parramatta and in 2007 was granted World Heritage Listing by UNESCO.

The good thing is everything you want to see is close to the PARKROYAL Parramatta so I would go back and have an afternoon nap before going having dinner. I had dinner at the hotel’s restaurant on the first night called Table 30 and it was a nice, quiet atmosphere on a Friday night with the hotel’s band playing easy listening contemporary music in the background. It would be a perfect place for a romantic dinner for couples. I tried a couple of dishes from the Table 30 menu and seafood is what they do well as it was fresh, the only way to have seafood. On Friday night, I tried the following dishes (when I realised how many delicious dishes at Table 30 I wanted to try, I had a friend who lived nearby who dropped in to share some of the food):

· Seafood Plate scallops, bbq prawns, salt & pepper squid, grilled barramundi, garlic mussels and desiree mash served with garden salad or steamed vegetables and béarnaise sauce

· Butter Chicken tender succulent tandoori chicken with saffron pilaf rice, roti paratha and cucumber raita

· Schezwan King Prawns served with Chinese cabbage, shallots, red radish, yuzu dressing, citrus pearls and tempura spinach

· Sticky Fig and Pecan Pudding served with chocolate butterscotch sauce

· Apple and Rhubarb Crumble served with caramelised anglaise and vanilla ice cream

· Lemon Pudding served with sage crème fraiche and blueberry filo tuille

Also the mocktails (which were from Bar 30 downstairs) were very addictive and I tried a few Virgin Lychee-tini apple juice, cranberry juice, lychee juice and fresh lime.

So that was Friday night and on Saturday night, I ended my stay with the Saturday night seafood buffet which also drew in large groups of family and friends and the restaurant was booked out for their seafood buffet where there was an selection of seafood from the cold section, some good food from the hot section and of course, no buffet is complete without a dessert buffet. 

Overall, it was a modern, clean, comfortable and stylish stay in the Western Suburbs, an ideal staycation hotel if you are attending a wedding that way or simply want to go on a cultural foodies discovery tour of Parramatta or even planning to seeing something at the Riverside Theatre. I also thought the service staff were friendly and very helpful during my stay too.

See.Taste.Do stayed as a guest of the PARKROYAL Parramatta


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