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Published November 4th 2017
Celebrating local, seasonal, affordable and accessible food
When I think of a contemporary fine dining experience, my first thought is usually of a trendy inner-city restaurant, where bookings are hard to come by, finding a car park is near impossible and with a bill at the end of the meal that makes your eyes water.
But in exciting news for south-west Sydney, there is a new fine dining restaurant at the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre which is set to change all of that. Introducing Bellbird Dining & Bar.
Introducing Bellbird Dining & Bar (Image Supplied)
Bellbird Dining & Bar is not only bringing fine dining to the area but better yet, it is fine dining at affordable "pub" prices. I attended the launch to find out more and to sample a little taste of what will be on offer.
For those who aren't familiar with the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre (CPAC), this decommissioned power station, located on the banks of the Georges River, is a hub of artistic talent and creativity in south-western Sydney. The centre is a cultural facility of Liverpool City Council and runs a multi-disciplinary arts program that includes exhibitions, theatre, live music, dance, workshops, seminars and education programs.
If you visit during the day, the first thing you will notice is the peaceful riverside setting and the distinctive sound of the bellbirds, leaving no mystery as to where this restaurant gets its name. But once inside, the imposing power station façade transforms into a contemporary gallery and function space.
The launch was a relaxed and enjoyable event held in the spacious Turbine Hall. There was a large number of people in attendance with the diverse crowd a reflection of the Liverpool area in general. Before the welcoming speeches, we were treated to some entertainment by a local musician.
CPAC Director, Craig Donarski, conducts the official welcome
The official welcome to the launch was conducted by CPAC Director, Craig Donarski, whose enthusiasm for the new restaurant was infectious. Craig explained the philosophy of Bellbird which celebrates local, seasonal, affordable and accessible food.
At this restaurant, 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.
Ingredients not grown on site are sourced from local NSW suppliers as sustainability and low food miles are also important considerations at this restaurant. Craig summed it up nicely by suggesting that Bellbird offers "great value dishes that come with great environmental values."
At Bellbird you will enjoy a garden to plate experience from Head Chef Federico Rekowski (Image Supplied)
Craig also delivered a speech by Kiersten Fishburn, CEO of Liverpool Council, as she was unable to make it to the launch due to illness. Bellbird Head Chef, Federico Rekowski, was also called upon to say a few words before the amazing food started circulating.
Federico's dishes are a blend of French cuisine with contemporary Asian and South American influences. He describes his cooking style as "creative and passionate" and believes a restaurant should take its diners on a journey. Federico is joined at Bellbird by Sous Chef Steven Pham, who enjoys creating dishes that inspire, excite and re-invigorate the tastebuds.
Bellbird invites you to go on a fine dining journey (Image Supplied)
True to their food philosophy, the food was fresh and creative and made for an exciting dining experience. Every canapé I tried was enjoyable but the most unusual dish I tasted was the Duck Liver Parfait Macarons with their sweet exterior and creamy and savoury parfait filling. The Southern Style Quail & Chilli Jam was also deliciously crunchy and flavoursome. There were also a couple of canapés that came around which were not on the menu including a tasty felafel as well as a pumpkin ravioli with a burnt butter sauce which was absolutely divine. Unfortunately, my guest and I were not quick enough to sample one of the King Prawns, which were snapped up quickly as they looked absolutely amazing.
Wines from Artemis in the Southern Highlands were served alongside the launch menu and I enjoyed a Sparkling Riesling. Matt from Stockade Brew Co, a local brewery at Smeaton Grange, was also on hand with a selection of craft beers. I tried the Hop Splicer XPA which has a sweet citrus flavour with grapefruit undertones and a distinctive summery vibe.
The Bellbird garden on site is tended to by a full-time gardener, Lauren Booth. It features an astounding 20 vegetables and 10 herb varieties, including kale, spinach, rainbow chard, silverbeet, lettuce, snow peas, radish and fennel.
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. Similarly, parking is not an issue with spaces available on site and the Casula Train Station only 100 metres away.
After sampling the food at the launch, Bellbird Dining & Bar is at the top of my list for my next fancy restaurant meal. To view the current menu please click here. There is also a separate vegetarian menu here.
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.
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.