In Short: Cucina Locale in brings fine dining to the west, in a relaxed atmosphere atop Blacktown Workers Club. Beautifully presented and refined dishes that exhibit complementing and contrasting flavours. My tip for a three course meal: start with the lobster tail, followed by the pork belly, and finish off with a lemon meringue tart. You will not be disappointed!
We are on a roll with great finds in and around Blacktown. Just recently, we stumbled on Alt. Cafe, and now, thanks to AGFG, this week we got to experience Cucina Locale, which sits atop Blacktown Workers Club. In Sydney at present, so many of these large RSL or Sports clubs have embraced the concept of bringing specialised and regionally focused food into focus. We are seeing an explosion of quality dining venues inside these clubs. It could be said that owner, and head chef, Jessy Singh was ahead of the game when he opened Cucina Locale two and half years ago. He thought it was time that Blacktown had a fine dining Italian venue, to exhibit his talents and experience honed over many years. He’s taken a softly, softly approach; slowly evolving his menu over that time to the beautiful, simple ingredients that we enjoyed during our visit.
Don’t let Cucina Locale’s location fool you. Sure, to get to the restaurant, you have to go through the poker machines and buffet restaurants, but once you get into the lift and up to the 5th floor, you will feel like you are being transported to a whole different world altogether. The venue itself is large and can comfortably host functions, and promises a 360 degree view, from the Blue Mountains to the CBD skyline, achieved by a rotating dining floor.
One unique deco feature of Cucina Locale is that you will see interesting art pieces and sculptures, hanging on the walls and ceiling throughout the restaurant. All the artwork and sculptures are from Sydney-based artists and available for purchase. This is a great way for the restaurant to show its support for local talent, and a great initiative by Jessy.
With the latest hits, like Ed Sheeran’s Photograph, Christina Peri’s A Thousand Years, and Luis Fonsi’s Despacito quietly playing in the background, the atmosphere at Cucina Locale is calming, yet upbeat. Even the dress code here is a blend of casual chic, with the diners willing to dress up for a nice dining experience. The wait staff are very polite and accommodating, and give you the full fine dining experience.
To begin with, Cucina Locale has a good repertoire of drinks to tempt and tease. From cocktails to beer to non-alcoholic drinks, Cucina Locale has it all and if you don’t see it in the menu, just ask! On this visit, I decided to go with a Pina Colada. With the sun shining outside and our magnificent views, this cocktail was the right combination of Bacardi rum, Malibu, pineapple juice, coco syrup and coconut cream; a match made in cocktail heaven, all beautifully blended into a white, milky delicious drink, served in a hurricane cocktail glass, topped with slices of fresh pineapple on the rim.
For entree, look no further than their Lobster Tail with Avocado, Corn, Jalapeno’s and Coriander. The hero of the dish is the lobster, cooked to perfection, maintaining its juicy and sweet meat and bursting with natural flavours of the sea. Accompanying the lobster is a smooth and tangy guacamole-like puree made with avocado, coriander, corn, and jalapéno peppers. Eating this in combination, I am suddenly transported from the seaside to Mexico! The vinegary flavours from the picked jalapéno peppers work really well to contrast the seafood, delivering a slight heat with a good balance of sweetness and tanginess.
Next, I highly recommend Cucina Locale’s Game Farm Salt and Pepper Quail Legs. The dish is beautifully plated, with two quail legs, ribbons of cucumber salad, and edible flowers. Quail is a small bird, but head chef Jessy has managed to jam so much flavour onto the legs of this tiny bird that, I have to say, it’s one of the best tasting quails I have ever had. The quail legs are marinated in Asian flavours, like soy and sesame, then dusted with a light coating and gently pan-fried. The end result is a crunchy coating with juicy tender meat that is infused with nutty fragrance from the sesame, and salty umami from the soy sauce on the inside. It was so good that I was picking at the leg to make sure that I could got every delicious morsel! The refreshing cucumber salad cleansed the palate, and served as a great contrast to the strong flavours. I would give it a 2 thumbs (or shall I say, 2 legs!) up.
The Riverina Lamb Shoulder is a dish that really champions it’s main ingredient. Firstly, there is the lamb shoulder meat, which is slow cooked for 14 hours and shaped into medallions. When you put your fork into it, it just all spectacularly falls apart, in the most appetising way. The medallions are partnered with a herb-crusted lamb cutlet, potato gratin, asparagus, peas and carrots, and all beautifully plated. There is also a side of truffles fries and a mustard sauce, which is the perfect accompaniment.
For our 2nd main, we had the Murray River Pork Belly. Australians love their pork, and pork crackling is one of those dishes that always has a wow factor when its done perfectly. The meat is so tender, and the layers of fat in between is so well rendered. But the highlight was the crackling skin. Unlike most crackling which is just crunchy, this crackling was also sweet and sticky. Head Chef Jessy hints that there is the use of coffee and apple cider, which helps the skin crisp up. To help balance the richness of the meat, the dish comes with broccolini and a sweet potato puree. But it’s Chef Jessy’s addition of locally-sourced Pendle Hill Bacon Jam on the side, that really elevates this dish. Can I just say that it is the best sauce to go with the pork belly as its sweet, caramelised flavours reminds you of bacon and maple syrup! This is one jam I would not mind having on my bread as part of my breakfast!
Even the kids meal is perfectly thought out, and is a great way to introduce your child to other food groups, rather than the typical spaghetti bolognese and chicken nuggets. There is the Roasted Atlantic Salmon, and Wagyu Bolognese with farfalle pasta. With little Coco and Viner Sammi being a lover of all things bacon, there was only main to satisfy her, and that was the Chicken Scalloppini with bacon, cream sauce, and broccoli. Slices of perfectly cooked chicken are served with a delicious cream sauce that is spiked with bacon bits. Sure there is the broccolini vegetable element (oh no, greens!) but drenched in the delicious bacon cream sauce, even Sammi was willing to eat her vegetables without much coaxing.
To end the meal on a high, Cucina Locale has five dessert offerings on their menu. From the minute I stepped into the restaurant, I was already eyeing the French Flan Cake. The cake is rich with the beautiful flavours of eggs, vanilla, and dairy, all set into a cake-like structure. A mixture of fresh berries give it a sharp, tart element to cut through the richness of the cake, and the macadamia crumble give it a crunchy texture. With a small jug of warm pouring custard, pour this over the cake and berries, and it turns into a warm dessert. As an added element, two wafer thin slices of biscotti, bursting with a citrus flavour that is almost slightly bitter, is a perfect contrast to this otherwise sweet dessert.
Another equally good dessert is the Lemon Meringue Tart, served with raspberries, candied lemon peel, and edible flowers. The lemon meringue tart is really well done, with a perfectly set curd in the middle, a good crumbly crust on the outside, and lots of beautifully pipped meringue on top that is lightly burnt. The raspberries are also perfectly arranged with batons of equally cut candied citrus skin, sitting on a line of perfectly drawn sauce. The flavours are one facet, but complemented by the excellent plating skills, makes this lemon meringue tart a stand out.
While the top of Blacktown Workers Club has had fine dining for 25 years, we must credit Chef Jessy for dragging the space out from the 80’s and introducing a modern interpretation of Italian cuisine to Western Sydney. He has kept the menu relevant to his patrons and listened to the feedback, while constantly tweaking the dishes to keep diners coming back for more of his exquisite food.
*Coco & Vine dined as guests of Cucina Locale and AGFG. However, all images and opinions are our own.