Alex&Co. is the fine diner people thought Parramatta’s Husk and Vine would be. Both restaurants share Mediterranean origins – Alex&Co.’s owner Alex Aslan is Turkish – but that’s where the similarity ends.

The 350-seat riverside site is bright, warm and big enough to have separate areas for the restaurant, cafe and bar. Despite the $2.5 million fit-out, the interiors aren’t fussy; lots of indoor ferns dot the white walls, and cushioned banquettes soak up the noise of wooden tables and chairs. Long tables for groups reflect the restaurant’s concept of shared plates in a shared space.

For a venue of this size, the menu is relatively compact. Executive chef Kyle Quy’s (Nola Smokehouse) obsession with detail shows up in the Tasmania wasabi used in the cuttlefish salad, and the wild Australian lemons and sea asparagus that dress cured scallops. “There’s a focus in the food world on using what’s around you. NOMA started it, Ben Shewry (Attica) does it too. That sense of discovery inspires my own experiments,” he says.

Quy was inspired by Parramatta’s culture and his experience with spice at Nola to create a “Parra spice”. It includes turmeric, cumin and sumac. It’s used in the lamb ribs, chargrilled chicken and fries.

There’s plenty to snack on: mussels, wings and Dorito corn cobs – a couple of nine-inch pizzas and some bigger meat dishes to share. The breakfast menu is a list of cafe staples; try the Turkish menemen (scrambled eggs with tomato, onion and sausage). The venue encourages family outings with a kid’s menu available for breakfast and dinner.

The drinks menu is by award-winning cocktail expert Max Greco (Vasco) and is also influenced by locals. Raise a glass to sports legends with the Eels on the Field cocktail – a combination of rum, pineapple, honeycomb, coconut and orange. A few wines are available by the glass, but Greco’s affinity for spirits means the menu features more than 20 different tequilas and rum. Jugs of cocktails promise good times for groups.

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