In short: Bellbird Dining & Bar is a casual affair, but the food is very smart indeed. Experienced chefs who have worked at hatted restaurants bring together a menu featuring sustainably produced food and an ever-changing farm-to-table menu, at very reasonable prices.
Imagine dining at a cafe or restaurant, and knowing that 65% of the produce on your plate has been grown and harvested within 50 metres of the kitchen door. Coupled with that fresh produce, Bellbird Dining & Bar are not going to sting you in the wallet either! At present, all dishes are currently coming in, or under, $20. The good news keeps rolling in, with Head Chef Federico Rekowski manning the kitchen. At the launch of the new diner, which is housed in the impressive Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, I heard a few words from Federico.
Softly spoken, Federico does his best work in the kitchen, utilising classic French cooking techniques mastered under the tutelage of Jean-Jacque Prevot. Federico moved to Australia, and learned Australian ingredients and the Australian way of life. Prior to Bellbird, he spent 12 years at the highly respected Courtney’s Brasserie in Parramatta.
I will be the first to admit, I am not an expert on the dining scene in Liverpool. With the buzz of Bellbird Dining & Bar, I am hoping a few more restauranteurs are motivated to set up shop in a council area that covers 42 suburbs, and will no doubt be a hub in the coming years as the Sydney’s second international airport takes shape. Bellbird itself is relaxed affair. The area just in front of the kitchen tells a story with a classic French country, maison-feel, with Japanese Manga motifs; the menu is much the same. Bellbird features seating inside to protect you from the elements, and the ability to sneak in and check out the exhibitions. There’s also seating outside to to enjoy the singing of the bellbirds, and relax alongside the shores of Georges River.
On my visit, Federico and his team dished up a feast of canapés. Trays of beautifully presented food came thick and fast out of the kitchen to the crowds of hungry diners who latched onto to the waiters. I have summarised some of my favourite canapés, and here’s hoping that they make an appearance permanently on Bellbird’s menu.
An undoubted star of the tasting was the Tempura Sydney Rock Oysters with Wasabi Mayo. These little bivalve delights had a crispy batter, and the oysters still remained moist with that characteristic briny flavour undiminished. A hint of wasabi mayo was creamy, with a warm contrasting flavour.
Another one of my favourites was a crispy creation of Beer Battered Northern NSW King Prawns with Garlic Aioli. Yes, the batter was perfect and golden, but the prawn was the undoubted star. It was sweet and succulent, and was some of the best prawns I had tasted all year.
Continuing with a seafood theme was the Cured Salmon Tarts with Celeriac Remoulade. A dainty and pretty looking dish, the perfectly treated salmon was a joy, and light and fresh on the palate. The celeraic remoulade was also light, yet zesty, and paired perfectly with the fish.
While the first three canapés were beautiful and really emphasised the hero seafood ingredient, the Southern Fried Quail and Chilli Jam was bold and finger licking good. A crispy skin, perfectly cooked quail (that in itself is no easy task), and hit of spice from the chilli jam made for a nice change of pace. It highlighted the talent in the kitchen that can switch from French refinement to USA-Asian ballsy flavour bombs with such aplomb.
A pretty canapé to finish was a Llandilo Duck Liver Parfair Macaroons. I loved the puffy, cream-coloured creations. Biting through the crisp exterior, I was met with the robust, yet smooth, duck liver parfait. It was seasoned exquisitely, and while liver may not appeal to the masses, it’s executed really well by team in Bellbird’s kitchen.
Here’s hoping that Bellbird Dining and Bar goes from strength to strength, and really does raise the bar in regards to dining options in the Liverpool area. Pop in to Casula, and I am sure you will be impressed, like I was, with the execution by chef Federico Rekowski and his team.
*Coco and Vine dined as the guests of Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre