Since getting married by Elvis in a drive-in chapel a decade ago, I’ve had a soft spot for Las Vegas. I was thus unsurprised to hear from Brewhouse Coordinator Shane Chalmers that it was the inspiration for the renovation of Bankstown Sports. Having recently added on a 55 million dollar, nine-storey office tower called the Flinders Centre, the casino-style club's attention is now focused on completing the internal fit-out of the ground floor lobby and retail areas.
It’s already an impressive walk-through, lined with comfortable yet stylish seating areas and eateries, including a cluster of Chinese restaurants offering Cantonese, dumplings and hand-stretched noodles; a mock-Italian piazza; and a busy railway station with fancy carriage dining and main concourse bistro eats. Under a gleaming silver dome you'll see a glowing white sign for the Basement Brewhouse held up on three steampunk-style copper pipes.
Descending the stairs will see you emerge in an attractive microbrewery, with dancing flames in a two-sided fireplace likely the first thing that catches your eye.
Behind the bar you’ll find shiny fermenters and a row of beer taps to tempt you into extensive beer sampling.
Being housed in the basement puts this space at the level of the keg room.
This has cleverly been made into a feature, with a host of more private rooms having glass windows where you can watch the beer kegs being changed.
We take our meal tucked inside a soundproof barrel, with our own television screen.
It’s a clever way to grant a group a bit of intimacy, right in the midst of a large and popular space.
Food orders are placed down in the sunken dining room. The kitchen, led by 23-year-old chef Sarah Hanslow, is efficient and undeniably proud of their burger offerings.
Generously adorned with thick, stretchy slices of smoky, coffee-rubbed brisket, Smokin’ Little Joes ($16) is a menu highlight. Hanslow explains they get in an experienced, contract smoker on the weekends, to ensure an excellent result. She keeps the brisket as the hero on a brioche bun with snapping fresh lettuce leaves, lightly dressed ‘slaw, Swiss cheese, pickles and aioli.
But there’s something about a buttermilk fried chicken burger that gets me every time. The Chicky Babe ($16) takes a nicely seasoned, juicy fried chicken breast and teams it with more butter lettuce, golden American double Jack cheese and a splash of peri peri mayonnaise. Taken on a black charcoal bun, this burger is a winner.
I was also pleased to see the menu offer up suggested beer matches with each burger. As I was keen to give the easier-drinking end of the Basement Brewhouse range a proper going over, we opted for cocktails with our burgers. I went for A Little Taste of Weiss ($17), a surprisingly tangy Archie Rose Gin cocktail that summons a Weiss bar using pineapple, lemon juice and macadamia and cashew syrup. I was delighted that it wasn’t overly sweet. My dining companion tried to ward off the cold weather with a Tropical Spice ($16) that combined mango nectar, pineapple juice and passionfruit with peach schnapps and Grey Goose Vodka, cut with enough jalapeno to stop it from being cloying. Both were quality drinks.
To accompany our beer tasting journey, we hit up the other half of the menu that offers up charcuterie and cheese. Our San Daniele Prosciutto ($14) and Saint Agur Blue ($14) arrived nicely presented on a board with guava paste, dried muscatels, crudités, olives, Nigella Barossa Bark, gluten free Larder & Co sea salt wafers, bread and Pepe Saya butter.
From their extensive 27-tap range, we selected two Tasting Paddles ($8/4 x 150ml). As this bar is exempt from contracts, they’re allowed to pour whatever they want, meaning their list is pretty exciting. On this occasion, I skipped over some of my favourites like Batch, Modus Operandi and Capital Brewing Co. and only drank Brewhouse beers.
The best beer I drank was the 4.3% ABV Brewhouse Pineapple Gose ($4/middy). This sour beer is summery and light, and perfectly pitched at the Australian summer with sea salt, freshly juiced pineapple and a tiny suggestion of coriander. Natalie, who served us, loves it, and explains she took home a growler of it just last night. I also loved the 6.5% ABV Brewhouse Cereal Offender ($5/middy) that uses rolled oats to produce a fruity, round and flavoursome American pale ale style beer (using American hops) that’s easy to enjoy. While the Brewhouse Pale Ale ($4/middy) showing a little bit of floral hops and a little bit of citrus, gives you no reason to not like it, my third favourite beer was actually their 5% ABV Brewhouse Sparkling Ale ($4/middy) even though it throws in a bit of my beer and wine nemesis: melon.
While it’s impossible to argue with the fact that gambling revenue is subsidising your meal and well-priced drinks – “the reason we have nice things” as one friendly staff member I spoke to tactfully put it – I appreciated that Bankstown Sports keeps their restaurants very separate to their gambling areas. I didn’t have to see them, or walk through them, between the (free) underground car park and Basement Brewhouse. For a non-gambling diner like myself, you can achieve good bang for your buck if you decide to venture into this large Western Sydney club.
Bankstown Sports, 8 Greenfield Parade, Bankstown
Ph: (02) 9722 9888
Thanks to Spooning for arranging this visit.