Just Open: The Emporium, Parramatta

Fare at the Emporium: Pan-fried gnocchi with green peas, ricotta and broad beans.
Fare at the Emporium: Pan-fried gnocchi with green peas, ricotta and broad beans. Photo: Supplied

After several delayed launch dates, the much-anticipated Emporium is finally open.

It's Parramatta's most ambitious dining project to date: a 150-seat restaurant, bar, bakery and coffee roastery that's been more than 12 months in the making and cost a hefty $4 million (more than a smidge over its initial budget of $1.6 million).

The Emporium opened quietly on Monday, April 6, with an official launch planned for May 21. But it seems locals were hungry for this high-end eatery: the place has hit capacity on a few nights already, despite minimal publicity.

Rob Cannon and Domonic Borel.
Rob Cannon and Domonic Borel. Photo: Supplied

Owners John and Sam Ayoub (behind successful chain The Coffee Emporium) originally planned to open a small cafe, but the ante was seriously upped along the way.

Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner (with food served till 11.30pm), the sprawling two-level venue features indoor and outdoor seating and a bar. Upstairs there's a training room for coffee classes.

The vibe is rustic Italian – think exposed brick, handmade marble tables imported from Venice, crystal glassware, candles, and Ivy and Jasmine trailing over everything. (That's one way to blow out a budget.)

The menu, in the hands of chef Robert Cannon (ex-Pony Lounge & Dining) is contemporary Australian with a Mediterranean bent. For now, there's an introductory menu of nine dishes, including grilled calamari with chorizo and corn puree ($18) and overnight-cooked beef short rib with a maple and paprika glaze and chimichurri ($40). A full menu will start at the end of April.  

According to general manager Dominic Borel (ex-Gazebo and the Local Taphouse), there are plans for a pop-up farmers' market on weekends in the back laneway, featuring local suppliers and wine makers. Cue comparisons with the Grounds of Alexandria.

They're taking coffee seriously too, having imported a 25-kilogram coffee roaster from Germany and roasting 600 kilograms of beans each day, most of which will be sold to local cafes.

"We've got a lot of plans, we've got a lot going on," Borel says. "We'll be taking over the whole building by the end of the year and we'll have private wine rooms upstairs. We've got an application in for a sky bar – a champagne and oyster bar on the roof. And we've also made an offer on another restaurant quite close by … We're going to do a high-end fish restaurant."

People of Parramatta: strap yourselves in.

51 Phillip Street, Parramatta, (02) 9687 1955, theemporiumparramatta.com.au