My favourite ‘uncle’ really requires no introduction, he wanted to share his thoughts on Bells, Killcare. I had a really awesome experience at Bells, and would love to go back again and pershaps stay overnight. Here is what he has to say…
I’ve been wanting to visit Bells at Killcare for the longest time. I’ve seen the website, read reviews and of course heard from Gastronomous Anonymous herself about her dining experience there! All positive of course! So when Lala mentioned having an offsite near Terrigal, the first thing I said to her was, “Hey, I can fly you up there!” – that’s the same offer I made to her last year when she was going to the Hunter Valley…. her response to both offers were as follows and without hesitation, “Erm, I am not getting into that little plane!” – nothing I could say could change her mind… not even the fact that she could carry more than 100ml in liquids or that she could carry more than 30kgs of luggage could change her mind. Oh well, maybe next year huh! So how did we end up going to Bells? Well, in planning the offsite, Lala’s had to made a few (boring) driving trips to Terrigal. On her last visit, she actually said that Bells was only 20mins away from Terrigal! Awesome!
So here we are. REWIND to the weekend that just passed. Just an hour out of Sydney, we found ourselves in the heart of Gosford, going through some nicely windy roads and eventually reached Killcare! Timecheck: 12.40pm – only 10mins late for my 12:30 booking. I hate being late. I did a shoot in the morning and stupidly left a tad too little time for brekkie or a pre-drive snack! To say I was famished when we reached the front door of the restaurant is an UNDERSTATEMENT.
We were greeted by a lady in dark jeans and a white jacket. Trendy. I noticed that they spelt my name wrong on the reservations book. “Minor detail!” – my stomach tells my brain. We get asked if we wanted to sit inside or on the terrace, a quick glance over to Lala, who points towards the terrace. “Great idea!” – my brain tells my stomach. As we sit down and look around, a lady promptly offers us a choice of beverages. Sparkling water is what we asked for…and it quickly lands on our table, in goblets etched with Bells’ trademark star(fish). Against the lovely winter sunlight, the water glistens… at this point, I sit back and well, have words with my flat and non-existent bum that it’s been quite the drive, but also oh-so-worth it.
The waitress brings us the menu. There is an a la carte menu and a sunday tasting and roast option. My brain didn’t hesitate and said “tasting menu!” Lala agreed. We looked at the a la carte and there was a great selection! Too much choice confuses poor me. I usually end up ordering everything. Oh yeah. It’s scary, the amount I can eat. We also ordered an entrée size of the suckling pig gnocchi. Lala loves gnocchi. And I was hungry, so there was no issue with not being able to finish it.
The house bread soon arrives, served with olive oil. As the waitress poured the olive oil into the serving plate, again, it caught the sunlight and it looked like she was pouring liquid gold. I put it down to being hungry and just seeing things…..
So here’s what we had. What I had too much of: the house bread. SO GOOD. Stefano kept asking me if I wanted more. I didn’t want to be rude, so I said “YES PLEASE!” Everything was cooked to perfection. I cannot fault any of the dishes we had.
The potatoes and salad. subtle flavours, nicely dressed and finished.
We also saw Stefano Manfredi serving his dishes to customers. It is very refreshing to owners / head chefs walking the floors these days. Dan Hong, does it, Josh Nicholls, and Stefano as well. It’s just nice seeing the interaction between diners and the owner / chef.
Fig and hazelnut after meal delight.
The ambiance of the establishment is faultless. It’s got a seaside charm. And even though it’s not located on the water, it is near water and the nautical theme of vertical lines repeated in the cushions and upholstery through out was very tastefully done. A log fire in winter always seals the deal! Very charming inside and out.
It’s certainly a place to visit on a day like we had – sunny winter’s day. Clear blue skies, crisp fresh air … with laughter of young children running around the gardens punctuating muffled conversations.
So was my stomach happy? You bet! Ambience, location, service, food and a kind of warmth that you don’t get from many restaurants these days!
It’s another YUM from me or in Gastronomous Anonymous’s term: 8 / 10
107 The Scenic Road
Box Head 2257
Ph: +61 2 4360 2411
‘The Mother’ took me to Bells at Killcare for my birthday lunch. We originally wanted to go for dinner, and stay for the weekend, however, we had a pretty busy and intense weekend that the only option was lunch. Not that there is anything wrong with that, it was a lovely day, and drove mid-morning (still managed to get a sleep in) in time for lunch.
The drive to killcare took less than two hours, and Bells at Killcare is situated high on the tip of the Bouddi Peninsula National Park. I’m sure we would have gotten there earlier if my direction skills were up to scratch! Yes, I managed to get ourselves lost – I am a little directionally challenged! Bells is actually a boutique hotel, a retreat and a place that ‘The Mother’ and I would like to stay one day.
I have wanted to try this restaurant for a while now, so was excited when ‘The Mother’ suggested it. The restaurant faces a beautiful garden, it would have been lovely to sit outside on the deck, however, they had a function so we sat inside.
We started with the complimentary olives and parmesan crisps. I love the different types of olives – I wouldn’t have been able to name them all, but they were an absolutely delight and a great starter.
The complimentary bread was wonderful, it was slightly warm, and moist, and dipped in olive oil was just lovely – I love fresh bread.
‘The Mother’ and I couldn’t really do a three course meal for lunch, so thought we would just have a main each and share a dessert. Considering I was still a little full from the wonderful feast at Four in Hand, I really didn’t need a three course meal.
‘The Mother’ opted for grilled grass – fed beef loin with roast garlic, red wine sauce ($39). The beef was superb – it was extremely tender, and cooked to perfection, just the way ‘The Mother’ wanted it. The broccolini was delicious and the red wine sauce a great complement, but the beef – WOW!
I opted for the pan fried Hiramasa kingfish with eggplant salad, dried tomato and caper salsa. The Hiramasa kingfish was beautifully cooked, and well executed. Crispy skin and moist tender fish. I love the braised eggplant, so soft that you didn’t need to chew it at all, and the caper salsa gave it that extra nice touch! It was a very light and delicious dish.
We ordered a side of roast rosemary potatoes which ‘The Mother’ absolutely loved! Think he ate all of it, bar two! The potatoes were soft, with crunchy skin. It was absolutely perfect!
For dessert, we shared the strawberry semifreddo with rhubarb, grapefruit and strawberry jellies. I love how the jellies wobbled, rhubarb, strawberry and grapefruit jelly – they were light and their flavours were distinct. My favourite was definitely the rhubarb jelly, followed by the strawberry jelly, the grapefruit was a little sour for my liking. The thin biscuit on top of the frosty semifreddo was amazing and the strawberry semifreddo was stupendous. It was indeed the perfect way to end a fantastic meal.
Deliciously full, we wondered around the beautiful garden and decided that we will be back for a weekend to say at this lovely venue.
Thank you to ‘The Mother’ for a lovely lunch and for a weekend full of eating, entertainment and laughter! I have been totally and utterly spoilt!
GA’s ratings: 8.5 / 10
Bells at Killcare
107 The Scenic Road
Box Head, 2257
Ph: +61 2 4360 2411