In Short: Bellbird Dining and Bar is a restaurant located inside the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, with a focus on sustainability including sourcing ingredients from its own garden, farmers and neighbouring suppliers. Brunch is now a feature and you can spend lazy weekends by the river sipping coffee and tucking into a delicious menu during the day.
If you haven’t been to Casula in the last year, and you drove there today, it is hardly recognisable. The transformation is amazing, and it’s exciting. Along the Georges River, sits Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, and within the facility you will find Bellbird Dining and Bar.
Opened in 2017, Bellbird Dining and Bar is helmed by head chef Federico Rekowski and sous chef Steven Pham. Both chefs have vast experience at restaurants across the city, and continue to deliver dishes here at Casula that are beautifully presented, complex, yet wallet friendly. The menu is constantly evolving based on whatever is in season, and it focuses on showcasing the fresh ingredients at its peak, bringing out its best flavour, while the food presentation is consistently clean and eye-catching.
The restaurant is pleasantly outfitted, with indoor and outdoor seating. With the indoor seating, you get piano music playing in the background, setting the tone for a relaxing calm environment. On a good weather day, I would definitely recommend taking one of the outside awning seating spots, because then you get to the marvel at the array of herbs, flowers, vegetable and fruits that has been planted around the outside of the restaurant. Be dazzled by the butterflies fluttering around the flowers and take in whiffs of fresh air that is perfumed with the natural heady smells from the plants like lemon verbena.
Not too far from the restaurant is the Powerhouse’s Garden, from which Chef Rekowski and his staff have free reign to pick from the many varieties of vegetables, fruits, and herbs growing in there. In fact, up to 60% of the produce from the restaurant is sourced directly from the garden, ensuring that the restaurant uses the freshest and best in-season ingredients. Once in a while you might even see the chefs coming out from the kitchen, plucking some fresh herbs directly from one of the many outdoor garden beds outside the parameters of the restaurant, filled with herb plants like sage, rosemary, thyme, basil, and chilli, and then rushing back into kitchen to continue cooking.
Being a nice warm Autumn day, I ordered an Ice Tea and was absolutely delighted with the glass of cool, light and refreshing drink, packed with citrusy flavours from the lime which I believed was picked from the lime tree just outside the restaurant.
Bellbird Dining and Bar has an outstanding breakfast menu, with a good selection from the carnivore and vegetarian section. If you are in a carnivore sort of mood, do try the Sautéed Corn with Tomatoes, served with confit garlic, prosciutto and 2 poached eggs, sitting on a piece of rye bread. The corn is fresh, sweet and well seasoned, while the eggs was cooked to perfection with a slightly runny centre. The sweetness of the corn and the crisp tart flavours from the tomatoes cuts through the meaty, salty and rich flavours of the prosciutto. The star of this dish for me however, was the confit garlic. It was creamy without being too intense, with the mild flavour of garlic coming through.
House Smoked Salmon Salad, served with zucchini, pickled fennel, herb aioli & lettuce, two poached eggs and baby radish exhibits finesse. The salmon is pink and smoked to perfection. It is firm yet tender on the inside with light smoky flavours that does not diminish the natural rich and salty sea flavours of the salmon. The eggs are poached to perfection (a familiar theme!), while the baby radish has a light zesty, spicy flavour. Rounded out by pickled fennel, which has the right amount of sweetness and a freshness. But really, it is the salmon that has me coming back mouthful after mouthful, not wanting to stop, wishing there was more of this enjoyment.
Mid-way through our meal and I had to see what was brewing on the coffee front. Bellbird Dining and Bar have upgraded their machines since our initial visit 15 months earlier. With the new machine is also a focus on quality coffee. They have sourced their roasted beans from DC Specialty Coffee in Melbourne. I had a Flat White and could not fault it. I love the subtle flavour yet there is complexity with a beautiful aroma and flavours of toffee and candy. It has nice body, but a very clean finish.
If you are more in the mood for chicken, look no further than the Pan Fried Free Range Chicken Breast, with field mushroom, mushroom duxelle and jus. People often ask why use organic chicken as opposed to a regular chicken and if the price difference is worth it? My answer to that has always been yes, and this dish confirms my answer. Organic poultry has more flavour than a regular chicken and even though it is chicken breast (which most people associate with dry meat), this chicken meat is actually moist, juicy, and full of flavour. The earthy sweet flavours of the field mushroom complements the chicken perfectly. Usually you would associate mushroom duxelle with beef wellington but who knew that the intense rich flavours works well with chicken as well. This plate of food not only tasted great but is also very well presented.
If you know me from past posts, you know all about my adoration of desserts. Mandarin and Almond cake, with lime curd, lemon myrtle powder, and pistachios exhibited that pastry work is top notch at Bellbird Bar and Dining. The light orange flavour from the cake was sublime, with a light refreshing citrusy kick from the lemon curd and lemon myrtle powder. Pistachio adds a nice depth with its subtle yet characteristic nutty flavour. All in all, it was light, airy, zesty, leaving a light tingle on the tongue. The chef has balanced the zesty citrus and sweetness level to perfection. The portion size is just right and it’s the perfect way to end the meal.
Our whole dining experience had been a showcase of the passion that chef Federico Rekowski and his staff have for their craft and their respect for the ingredients used. Despite the current success of their restaurant, they are not ones to rest on the laurels of their success and are already building an outdoor brick oven so that they can make wood-fired pizzas onsite and add that to the repertoire of excellent food options at Bellbird Dining and Bar.