Nestled along the banks of the Georges River, the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre (CPAC) is a beautifully repurposed power station housing six galleries, a 321 seat multi-purpose theatre, artist workshops and residency spaces.
It is also home to Bellbird Dining + Bar, recently launched under the helm of Cordon-Bleu trained head chef Federico Rekowski (Ex-Courtney’s Brasserie) and sous chef Steven Pham (ex Fish Face). With the support of CPAC and local council, the pair are given freedom to design and execute dynamic menus on a weekly basis. Remarkably, 90% of the produce used by the restaurant is available from the huge CPAC garden some 50 metres away. The garden allows the kitchen to harvest and array of produce including tomatoes, zucchinis, silver beets, Jerusalem artichokes and eggplants.
The confluence of factors allows the restaurant to position itself as fine dining without the hefty price tag. No item on the menu is over $20. Yet, the quality of food is on par with many established mid to fine dining places in the inner-city. On our visit, my plus one and I enjoyed: hand-made buffalo mozzarella (sourced from a local cheesemaker a few kilometres away), prosciutto, tomatoes, basil and rye; hand-made gnocchi with figs; a beautifully executed prawn ravioli; and a delightful crispy pork belly.
All of these dishes were delicately balanced and beautifully presented. None were overly heavy and thus perfectly suited for a summer lunch.
There is ample seating both indoors and outdoors and the restaurant has plans to expand to provide more seating and an outdoor awning. One can imagine spending an afternoon viewing the centre’s exhibitions, enjoy a long lunch listening to live music — and bellbirds of course — followed by a walk along down to the Georges River to top things off.
A quick 30-minute drive down the M5 from the city will have you at the centre and there is ample parking onsite. Alternatively, the centre is right next door to the Casula train station. Given the quality of their food, commendable ethos and excellent value or money, it is easy to reccomend Bellbird Dining + Bar.
I, for one, will be making many trips back.
Khanh grew up in Hoi An, a UNESCO Heritage listed village in Central Vietnam. He migrated with his family to Australia when he was 9. He is a music lover, sports and food lover. Follow him Instagram on @ironandwhiskey.
1 Powerhouse Road, Casula NSW 2170
9-3 pm Monday to Friday, 9-2.30 pm on Weekends