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Published December 4th 2017
Enjoy fine dining in south west Sydney
Bellbird Dining and Bar is an exciting and unique dining experience which has recently opened in south west Sydney. Located inside the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, it offers fine dining using fresh, local and seasonal food, and the great news is that it won't break the budget.
Bellbird Dining & Bar is a new dining destination in south west Sydney (Image Supplied)
Since attending Bellbird's launch at the beginning of November 2017, I have been eager to return to experience a meal from the full menu. Just recently, I returned for lunch on a very warm day at the beginning of December.
If you are not familiar with the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, you may find yourself wondering where on earth you are heading. The former power station, turned arts and cultural facility, is situated on the banks of the Georges River and is flanked by parkland on one side and the railway line on the other. Access is via Shepherd Street in Liverpool, which is currently a hive of activity with large building works under construction. However, once you reach the end of Powerhouse Road, the sound of building works is replaced by the musical notes of the local bellbirds and you will feel like you are a world away from the city.
For those arriving by car, there is free parking on site or if you are taking the train Casula Station is within walking distance. Adjacent to the car park you may notice a flourishing vegetable garden, which is an important aspect of the restaurant, but I will come back to that later.
As you enter the building, the industrial power station fašade is forgotten as the space transforms into a contemporary gallery with plenty to catch the eye, including the impressive size of the Turbine Hall. Bellbird Dining and Bar is located on the left-hand side of the building, with an open plan seating area which takes advantage of the large bi-fold doors which open out on to the alfresco area featuring views out to the riverside.
Seating options include both indoor and outdoor areas
While the dining area may appear small at first glance, it is still large enough to cater to larger groups and includes both indoor and outdoor seating areas. Due to the heat of the day, my guest and I chose to sit indoors. However, on a cooler day, I would expect the alfresco seating area to be a very popular option.
The philosophy of this restaurant is guided by the principles of choosing local, seasonal, affordable and accessible food. To this end, wherever possible, fresh produce is taken straight from the garden to the table. In fact, 65% of the produce used at Bellbird is grown in the kitchen garden on site. This also means that the menu at Bellbird can change daily as everything is made in-house according to what is most abundant and available in the garden.
The menu changes regularly depending on what is available from the garden
Cordon Bleu trained Head Chef Federico Rekowski, who spent twelve years at Courtney's Brasserie in Parramatta. is joined by Sous Chef Steven Pham. At Bellbird, they create dishes that inspire, excite and re-invigorate the tastebuds.
Bellbird's menu includes breakfast, lunch, dessert and vegetarian options. On the day we visited the Lunch menu included:
Pan Fried Cured Ora King Salmon, Asparagus, Fennel and Radish
Stella Hand Made Burrata, Corn Puree, Olive Salt and Herb Oil
Pan Fried Free Range Chicken, Chilli Plum, Spinach and Field Mushrooms
Hand Made Buffalo Mozzarella, Prosciutto, Tomatoes, Basil and Rye
Smoked Black Angus Sirloin, Asparagus and textures of Onions
W.A. Octopus, Cucumber, Enoki, Chimichurri, Lime and Ginger Dressing
Eco-Farmed Pork Belly, Peach Relish and Roasted Dutch Carrots
On the recommendation of Head Chef Federico, I chose the Black Angus Sirloin and my guest chose the Octopus. We also shared a Cucumber and Asparagus Side Salad.
The restaurant was fairly busy on this particular day with one large group and a number of smaller groups enjoying lunch. From our table, it was a treat to be able to view some of the interesting artworks on display in the gallery above us.
Our meals arrived quickly and were beautifully presented on large dishes. My sirloin was particularly tender and juicy and was accompanied perfectly by the asparagus and creamy onion selection. The serving size was just right, leaving me some wriggle room for dessert.
I thoroughly enjoyed the Smoked Black Angus Sirloin, Asparagus and textures of Onions
My guest enjoyed a very generous serving of tender octopus with a zesty and refreshing cucumber salad. She said the crispy fried enoki mushrooms sprinkled over the dish were a fabulous treat and described the presentation as a very pretty plate.
My guest enjoyed the W.A. Octopus, Cucumber, Enoki, Chimichurri, Lime and Ginger Dressing
As mentioned earlier, the vegetable garden on site is central to the philosophy of Bellbird and is tended to by full-time gardener, Lauren Booth. It features over 20 vegetables and 10 herb varieties, including kale, spinach, rainbow chard, silverbeet, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, snow peas, radish, fennel and Jerusalem artichokes.
Once again, it was beautifully presented with a delicate Viola flower on top and it tasted just as good as it looked.
After lunch, Federico invited my guest and I on a tour of the garden, pointing out all of the different vegetables and explaining the benefits of having your own fresh produce to choose from when creating your menu. His knowledge of and enthusiasm for the vegetable garden was evident and engaging.
You can't get more local than this on site vege garden
With the garden flourishing from the warm weather and recent rain, Federico mentioned there is an oversupply of some vegetables such as the cucumbers. However, it is great to see they are not going to waste, instead they are for sale in the restaurant for a nominal price.
A vertical Herb Garden adorns the alfresco seating area
My guest and I thoroughly enjoyed our lunch at Bellbird and would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a unique dining experience featuring fantastic food at affordable prices. Furthermore, if you have the chance before or after your meal, it is well worth a wander around the galleries to check out the latest exhibitions on display.
Bellbird Dining and Bar is open for breakfast and lunch every day except public holidays. The opening hours are from 10am - 3pm. To visit the Bellbird website, please click here.
At Bellbird, your fine dining experience is accessible and very affordable as all dishes are priced at $18 or under making it possibly even cheaper than a pub meal. Our main meals were only $18 each, the side salad was $5 and the Brownie was only $4 which is extremely reasonable especially given the quality of the food.
You may also find some fresh produce for sale from the vege garden
Casula Powerhouse is located at 1 Powerhouse Rd Casula (entry via Shepherd St). There is free parking available on site. If travelling by train, disembark at Casula Station, conveniently located only 100 metres from the Casula Powerhouse.
To keep up to date with news from Bellbird, you can also follow on Facebook and Instagram.