Winding our way past McMasters beach and along Scenic Road the decision to take the ‘longer’ route to Killcare was already paying off. From Sydney we’d driven just 90 minutes north before coming to a crest past Killcare Heights that presented a view south to the Northern Beaches that rivals the best in the country. From here it was a discreet right turn into a gravel driveway and we were at Bells at Killcare, the best kept secret on the central coast.
Nestled within 8.5 acres of beautifully manicured gardens and lawns sit twenty individual cottages, each with their own car spot. The Lake View Villa where we would spend the night was remarkably spacious, with tranquil views over the flower filled gardens and to the lake beyond. Tastefully styled in blues, whites and creams with the addition of local coastal references in the form of coffee table books and artworks, the styling is very Hamptons with a distinct touch of coastal NSW.
Amongst the flower filled landscape also lies 500m2 of kitchen garden, an orchard and 50 free-range chickens. This forms 15% of the ingredients used by head chef Marco Ribechini at Manfredi at Bells – perhaps the reason you might have heard about Bells prior to this. Iconic Sydney-based chef Stefano Manfredi joined Bells at Killcare in 2007, leaving behind the hustle and bustle of a CBD venue for the tranquillity of Killcare. The experience of eating at Manfredi at Bell’s is truly spectacular. Sitting on the balcony of the grand country manor you can glance over the perfectly cut lawn to the edible garden, where the ingredients for you soon to be served meal have been freshly plucked that same day. There’s a level of freshness and sustainability about the experience that is hard to emulate.
Seafood is the focus of the menu, and deciding on entrée’s would be the hardest decision we make all weekend. Our final decisions of stuffed calamari and scampi tagliatelle would be perfect, each served to accentuate the use of fresh, garden sourced ingredients. Between glasses of a beautiful 2011 Isole e Olena Sangiovese we decide on our mains of beef short rib, and the recently added venison – both of each were equally incredible. Closing off the meal with the highly recommended Passionfruit Tart was the perfect end to a wonderful dining experience.
There’s a certain laidback-ness about Manfredi at Bells that juxtaposes the output of the kitchen and this works wonderfully in its favour. Driving an hour up the coast you leave the stuffiness of CBD fine dining behind, and find yourself in an environment that is as much about the location as it is about the food.
Bells at Killcare is an hidden oasis where time seems to stand still and a weekend escape feel like a weeks holiday. It’s refreshing to know that places such as Bells at Killcare exist right on our doorstep. It is the perfect place for a romantic trip with a loved one, or simply a day trip with friends to enjoy some incredible food.
For bookings or more information check their website