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Published February 3rd 2014
Splurge your inner Savant
In this life, I think I was put into the wrong body. You see, I have a taste for the finer things in life without the wallet to match. Sophisticated restaurants without the price tag are few and far between, which is one of the reasons I fell in love with Restaurant 317 in Parramatta.
Having heard the ad on the radio for the umpteenth time (the words, I might add, I am now able to recite with more ease than the National Anthem) my boyfriend and I decided that we had earned the splurge - after a hard morning of sleeping. The promise of an extensive gluten-friendly menu was very alluring as my partner is a Coeliac.
The restaurant has an unusual set-up. It's comprised of two buildings sat side-by-side, through which an alleyway intersects to let pedestrians through from the car park (which is conveniently located directly behind the restaurant). They also have a large outside seating area but we decided to sit inside because it was a bit windy.
I was immediately impressed by the decor and ambience of the place. The use of exposed timber beams and panelling oozes a sense of comfort while the leather seats and semi-dim lighting make you feel like you're slightly higher up in society than you care to admit.
The menu itself is possibly the most extensive I have ever seen. Choosing what we wanted took almost as long as it did to drive there. The entree was an easy decision for my boyfriend. His noise of excitement when he saw the gluten-free garlic bread on the menu was comparable to a child on Christmas day. 'Garlic bread', you may think, 'surely you would choose something a little more interesting.' My boyfriend, though, hasn't had any since he was diagnosed. Gluten-free bread often has a slightly unpleasant texture - it's thick and almost moist. If I hadn't known that this garlic bread was gluten-free, I couldn't have picked it - it was beautiful. The gluten-free version was $3.00 more expensive than its gluten counterpart (taking it to $8.90) but the smitten look on his face was worth it.
For my main, I ordered the Atlantic Salmon and Prawn Duo. It arrived in a neat little pyramid: a solid rectangle of boiled rice on the bottom, a well-cooked salmon fillet in the middle and a king prawn, the size of my index and middle fingers put together, with two smaller tiger prawns perched on top. Some broccoli garnished the side and the plate was drizzled with creamy Napoletana sauce. The serving size was enough to make me wish I had fasted for at least a day beforehand. The meal was incredibly satisfying. The salmon, rice and sauce complimented each other beautifully and the broccoli was fresh and crisp.
The other half ordered the Chicken Garlic, seasoned with fresh garlic and basil in olive oil and white wine sauce. The gluten-free meals are accompanied by seasonal vegetables. He was only just able to fit all of it in - a feat I am continually amazed by. He is a man of few words but he gave his meal the head-nod of approval.
Despite our stomachs having been stretched past their limits, we decided we could stretch them a little more for dessert. We shared the Swirl Mousse, which is a light but delicious combination of flavours: white chocolate, raspberry and dark chocolate, topped with whipped cream and berry compote. I should probably mention at this point that we were not counting calories.
Though neither of us are oyster lovers, or even tolerators, there was also a rather suave looking Oyster Bar. Had I been able to stomach them, I definitely would have ordered '1 Tequila, 2 Tequila, 3 Tequila, Floor' which, you'll be very surprised to learn, is oysters served with Tequila, mint, lime, lemon juice and the signature salted rim. The Oyster Bar is only open from Monday to Thursday, 6 to 10pm.
We left Restaurant 317 a good few kilos heavier than that morning, but there was that feeling of satisfaction that only a good meal in a nice venue can bring. There's no shame in being a little bit fancy - indulge your inner snob.