Earlier in the month I made a flying visit through Bellbird at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre for a spot of lunch.
Bellbird was this blog's 2017 winner for Best Value Meal, and Head Chef Federico Rekowski continues to smash the ball out of the park in this category. Where else in Sydney could you eat locally sourced, foraged and grown ingredients from an organic kitchen garden, for fewer than twenty bucks a plate?
With the prawn-stuffed Hawkesbury calamari I’d been coveting selling out earlier in the day, I stayed in the Hawkesbury region and ordered Willowbrae Goat Cheese Filled Zucchini Flowers ($17). Harvested from their own organic garden, the zucchini flowers were stuffed to the brim with creamy, chalky goats' cheese that is made in Wilberforce, just an hour’s drive from the Arts Centre. The artfully plated dish is kept from being too rich with a few different renditions of beetroot, including a compelling balsamic, honey and beetroot gel.
I threw in a side of garden-fresh Tomatoes ($5) that helped too, and was surprised at the generosity of this side dish. It turns out the garden is producing bumper tomato harvests thanks to the talents of Lauren Booth, the Centre’s full-time gardener.
Lauren is also behind the scarecrow and hand-lettered signage that keeps visitors giggling, and allows urban types like me who live without backyards, to know exactly what’s growing where.
Smoked Angus Sirloin ($18) offers up a substantial piece of smoked beef, served up tagliata (sliced) so you can see the perfectly pink innards. It also makes it good for sharing. The dish is light on starches, with crisp enoki mushrooms standing in for chips, little dabs of wasabi cream and an underlying onion jam to play with.
While you can throw in a side of chips, I’d suggest holding off and ordering a Callebaut Dark Chocolate Brownie ($5). Mine came with a house-made banana ice cream and peanut butter. The peanut butter has been converted into a soft, fluffy crumb using maltodextrin – a simple but clever molecular gastronomy technique.
With a whisker of salt to tone down the intensity of ripe bananas, this was a fabulous finish to lunch, before a walk through the Casula Powerhouse's art galleries, which are all free!
Casula Powerhouse, 1 Powerhouse Road, Casula
Ph: (02) 9824 1121