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W.A. Octopus

Bellbird Dining + Bar at the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre

Review & Images by Daria Kill-Smith – Additional Images Supplied

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Concrete and steel. Industrial chic. The old Casula powerhouse, since converted to the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, the visual arts hub of Liverpool in Western Sydney, is home to the new Bellbird Dining + Bar. With an ever-changing, seasonally-adjusted, kitchen-garden produced menu, I was keen to sample the full dining experience after exploring the complex. 

The heavy-industry structure revealed a warm space – made all the warmer by the welcoming staff – Marketing Officer, Hamish, followed by his informative assistant Cara, who guided me around the fabulous gallery / restaurant / garden precinct. Even a sprinkling of rain didn’t dampen the welcome from Lauren – Bellbird’s gardener – whose loving hands tend the lush vegetable garden. The unbelievably fresh produce is picked just prior to use in the restaurant kitchen, where it is incorporated into artfully prepared dishes created by Cordon Bleu-trained Head Chef Frederico Rekowski, alongside his lightening-handed assistant, Rosemary. And the warmth continued.

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A toasty plate of Artesian rye and sour-dough bread sopped up pats of melting butter (the rye so flavoursome that my companion needed to know the closest outlet to purchase her own), and was the perfect start to our lunch. We followed with the salty freshness of the ocean in a dish of West Australian octopus – an enormously meaty, barbeque-charred tentacle on a bed of finely sliced cucumber drizzled with a lime and ginger dressing (of which this correspondent may or may not have been whispered the recipe). Topped with a net of battered and fried enoki mushroom straws, this was a clever twist on the classic French-fry seafood accompaniment.

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Soft zucchini flowers stuffed with a creamy goat’s cheese and cooked tempura-style held a crunchy bite at the stem, the tasty batons draped over an ever-so-slightly tart, pickled purple cabbage with sweet beetroot purée on the side. Violas studded across the plate, accentuated the garden freshness of this dish chosen from the vegetarian menu. A  salad of charred asparagus, warmed long shards of cucumber and slivers of Jerusalem artichoke, wilting the slices yet maintaining a satisfying, salad-fresh crunch.     

Stuffed Zucchini Flowers
Stuffed Zucchini Flowers
Charred Asparagus Salad with Cucumber & Jerusalem Artichoke
Charred Asparagus Salad with Cucumber & Jerusalem Artichoke

                The philosophy imbued by Frederico and adopted by Bellbird Dining + Bar, is a popular one. Combine locally-sourced, environmentally-aware, and eco-sustainable methods of growing, cooking, and serving, to offer the freshest of fine dining meals. In fact, as Frederico informed me, with the exception of coffee and chocolate, all produce is Australian sourced, as locally as possible – an idea which no doubt contributes to very reasonable pricing! Along with the harvest-providing garden, all edible micro-greens and miniature blooms are grown on-site, the hanging garden of herbs earning their own gallery space in a separate area of the restaurant.

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We left the venue warmed after such a clean-eating experience and friendly service, along with the notion of how the one-time powerhouse is now committed to leaving the smallest carbon footprint possible.

The overall impression of this dining experience is one of freshness; bursting, blooming, and fragrancing the air like no street-side cafe or restaurant could ever achieve.

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Casula Powerhouse, 1 Powerhouse Road, Casula NSW 2170 (Casula has train station)

Bellbird Dining + Bar
Opening Hours:
7 days a week, 10am – 3pm
Website:
http://www.casulapowerhouse.com/visit/bellbird-dining-and-bar Facebook: www.facebook.com/bellbirdatcasulapowerhouseliverpool Contact: (02) 9824 1121

**Daria was a guest of Bellbird Dining + Bar/Cardinal Spin

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Connie Lambeth – The Australia Times News

Editor GOURMET – Food/Wine/Events

E: literallyconnie@gmail.com

E: connie.lambeth@theaustraliatimes.com.au

W: editorcsl.com

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Head Chef Federico Rekowski & Sous Chef Steven Pham
Head Chef Federico Rekowski with Sous Chef Steven Pham