I couldn’t make a friend’s birthday barbecue in Audley, so I did the next best thing: I treated him to a lunch the next day.
“Since you’re the food blogger,” he said. “You can choose where to eat. You must know lots of good places!” I sighed. It’s hard to think of a place to eat when there is no preference for cuisine, location and definitely not price. With such high expectations and no defined constraints (besides “just not a spicy place”, which I can definitely do), I fretted. So much pressure! What if I chose a place that he didn’t like?
As the day drew nearer, I vaguely told him to meet me on the corner of Pitt St and Phillip St – hoping to find some last minute inspiration of where to eat when we got there. Puzzled, he asked, “But Phillip St doesn’t cross Pitt St?” Oops. I meant Church and Phillip St. “If you didn’t want to meet up with me you could just say so!” he joked. Ugh. Even though I have every intention to meet up with him, I felt bad anyway… I’m so easily guilt-tripped.
I got to our meeting point a few minutes before he did and looking around, I noticed massive banners declaring that Liana’s is under original management. Hmm, interesting. I’ve noticed over the years a decline in patronage (or perhaps I’ve just visited them at odd times?), which I found a bit sad as I’ve always liked Liana’s. I suggested the restaurant to Chung and mentioned how they make pretty good risotto there, which I always ordered in the past. Perhaps foreseeing a lot of aimless wandering around if he didn’t, Chung agreed to try Liana’s.
We discovered that we both love Roma salads, particularly because of the bococcini cheese. We had ordered the salad as a side and when it came out, we were both surprised at how large the serving size was. I realised now, as I’m writing up this post that it didn’t have the olives they proclaimed to have, but at the time I had no idea. To be honest, I’m not sure if I like olives as sometimes I find their taste a little too overpowering and at other times, they’re the perfect ingredient for the dish. My ambivalence to olives always leads me to be relieved when I don’t have to make the choice whether to eat it or not.
Anyway, I digress. We quite enjoyed the fresh salad – the bococcini was lovely and the ingredients tasted pretty fresh. However, we didn’t even touch the crusty bread as the size of our mains was rather daunting and we needed the stomach space.
Chung ordered the Barramundi and it was interesting to see that the fish dishes were similar to choosing a pasta: they had the way the fish would be cooked, complete with sauce and other ingredients and you only had to pair that up with the fish of your choice. The selection of fish included Barramundi, Salmon or whole baby Snapper.
The fish was a little on the overcooked side, but well-seasoned and it was made up by the slightly tangy mango and avocado salsa. A little acidity goes a long way! The random selection of vegetables that was in the dish (and not on the menu) was well-cooked and I sneakily stole some of his broccoli, though really I was eyeing that massive roasted potato slice. Chung loved the salsa, which I felt that it’s what saved the dish, and with an enormous effort, managed to finish his dish.
I decided to choose something different and not order the much loved risotto I normally have. Ravioli is a bit hit or miss with me, so I always choose the safe Penne or Linguine option. However, I decided to be a bit daring and I chose it anyway.
To be honest, I was a little disappointed to see my snow peas shredded. I love how crunchy they are in their whole form and in shredding them so, there was minimal crunchy-ness. However, the chicken was quite nicely cooked, the avocado added a lovely buttery-ness to the dish and the ravioli wasn’t too bad. I loved the creamy sauce, but it was a touch heavy (especially considering the huge size of the dish) and I found myself reaching for my drink quite often to wash everything down.
Sadly, I could not finish my dish and asked if it was possible to get it to take away. They affirmed that they could and promptly returned it in a plastic container in a plastic bag.
Despite how full we both were, my rather obsessive nature in requiring something sweet after a meal pressed us both into having a dessert. It was a good thing that we shared it as there was no way, under any sort of circumstances, that I could finish this dessert on my own.
The panna cotta was super wobbly and due to the uneven eating, actually bent over so much that it split itself. I’m not sure if the raspberry sauce that was spooned over the panna cotta was the raspberry jelly on the menu, but it was quite delicious anyway paired with the panna cotta and cream. The smooth panna cotta itself was rather nice and I thought the fresh fruit was a yummy touch. The tuille was decent and I found myself breaking sections from it to add that extra crunch to each mouthful.
Liana’s has been around for as long as I can remember and I was glad to see that the restaurant was almost full that day, as the last time I was here, my friend and I were pretty much their only customers (though again, quite possibly we weren’t in during their peak period). Their service was friendly and attentive and you can’t say that they skimp on their food. One of the customers near us, when asked how they liked their Caesar salad, said that they loved it but the serving size was too big. Indeed, I suspect the serving sizes are really geared towards small giants.
This is a restaurant that I have been coming to for years and I’ve noticed that at times I have this need to go back to Liana’s to satisfy my Italian cravings. I realise now that Liana’s is one of my comfort food restaurant. It’s a place that my friends and I can discuss our lives over a great, hearty meal at leisure without fear of being hustled out of the restaurant once we were done. I hope it’s something that will never change at Liana’s.
Corner of Phillip and Church Streets
Parramatta, NSW, 2150
Ph: (02) 9687 7979