Note: I was invited to dine as a guest of Casey Jones, however all opinions are my own.
The media launch of Casey Jones was held last week in the new suburb of Casey in Gungahlin. Locals are going to love the new gastropub in the neighbourhood and I am a tad jealous. The new pub is all shiny and new, with a spacious loft-like feel, the use of brick and railway sleepers along the bar and throughout the venue.
The meaning behind Casey Jones? He was a railroad worker and engineer from Missouri who died a hero. There are drawings of him and the train station throughout the venue. The ground floor has multiple leather booths along the side and houses the kitchen, while a mezzanine floor has the bar and more tables. Don’t worry if you have a wheelchair, they’ve already fitted in an electric ramp that can take you up and down. Then there is a small upstairs area overlooking the eatery that is still being fitted with the aim of putting couches for those who want to relax and unwind. It would also serve as a private function area.
I spotted a little cake display cabinet to the side of the bar and was told the cakes come from Sydney.
An array of champagne cocktails were laid out for us – the aperol spritz, summer punch, strawberry kiss and Casey royal (too bad I don’t drink alcohol) but I know the others enjoyed them.
We watched the cocktail making of their salted caramel espresso martini with vanilla foam (usually $18). It looked great and I had serious drink envy. Next time, I will ask for a mocktail version of this if it’s even possible.
J and some of the others were enjoying the 16 tap beers available. All the beers are local and will be changed regularly.
Check out the keg room at the back!
I asked whether a mocktail could be made and asked for a ‘berry thing’. An impressive looking mocktail arrived in a huge glass. I thought the mocktail was more of a smoothie than anything else as it was quite thick with berry goodness, but I really couldn’t complain. It was a lot better than some of the attempts at other bars I’ve been to. Although I’ve been informed that they can make almost anything on the cocktail menu into a mocktail, I gave some feedback to put out an actual mocktail menu for those who don’t drink alcohol but still want a fancy bling’d up drink.
The first of the food to arrive was Chef Abel’s creative concoction that actually isn’t on the menu (we did ask him to consider putting it on), of kingfish ceviche on a pumpkin/sweet potato puree. This was absolutely delicious – the big chunks of fish were beautifully smooth with the perfect balance of sourness and sweetness from the earthy sweet potato/pumpkin puree. I couldn’t believe this wasn’t on the menu!
Then there was more cocktail making with the Casey Jones smoked maple bacon and cherry infused old fashioned (usually $24). Most of the crowd were pretty excited about the bacon!
Casey Jones offer shrub drinks which I had never heard of until that night. Their menu states that shrub drinks were introduced in England during the 15th century as the acidity of the shrub worked well as a base flavour. Casey Jones offers 6 types of apple cider vinegar shrubs (usually $16).
Four dishes from the breakfast menu arrived for us to sample. I immediately gravitated to the citrus hotcake with pickled rhubarb, compressed honeydew, maple syrup, macadamias and pistachios topped with mascarpone cream and pistachio fairy floss (usually $16.50). It was one very thick hotcake and looked very similar to one I had at the Pialligo Estate Garden Pavilions. Turns out Chef Abel used to work there and is now bringing his skills to the Casey Jones kitchen. The hotcake was still fluffy in the middle and had a good balance of maple syrup on and around it. The honeydew was a unique and subtly sweet touch. A lovely dish although my personal preference would be for a scoop of ice cream rather than mascarpone.
Then came the poached eggs with Pialligo smoked raimbow trout, pickled red cabbage, aerated hollandaise on sourdough (usually $18). The chunks of trout were hidden underneath the eggs but were smokey and provided the necessary hit of flavour to pull everything together. Yum.
Another dish of poached eggs came out, this time with avocado, kale, dukkha, fennel and grana padano on grain sourdough (usually $18). In my opinion, this wasn’t as good as the trout but the thick cut sourdough was very tasty. A good vegetarian option.
The last breakfast dish was the chia seeds, quinoa, almond milk bircher, compressed and fresh fruit and seeds (usually $14). It had more of a chia pudding feel to it and certainly looked pretty and healthy, but I must admit it’s not something I would ever order.
We were then all asked to take a seat to sample the lunch/dinner menu. Red sangria (usually $26 per jug) was served and somehow we ended up with half a jug!
We received a few snack bar dishes and the first to arrive were the cherry cola chicken wings with scallions, sriracha aioli and celery (usually $15.90) which came in a serve of 8. Very moreish in a sweet cherry cola marinade. The boys suggested the dipping sauce could be served on the side as it really wasn’t needed.
The chorizo with peppers, garlic and chilli (usually $14) were thick chunks of salty meat with a spicy chilli hit. It always makes me so thirsty so I didn’t have much of this but a good portion was provided.
The crispy spiced okra with yoghurt, dukkah and lemon (usually $12) had been lightly fried in batter. It had a nice crunch when bit into but the okra was a tad stringy and still had some of its natural slime in the middle. Some olives with thyme and petite bread (usually $10.90) also arrived at our table. Not being an olive lover, I didn’t partake in the olives, but I did enjoy the warm (freshly baked?) bread.
The first of the mains to arrive was the salad of burrata cheese with romesco emulsion, heirloom carrots, beets, radish and black salt (usually $20.90). The presentation was elegant with lots of bright pops of colour on the plate. The vegetables were beautifully crunchy and the cheese was delicious though it wasn’t very big.
The crispy soft shell crab po boy with charcoal brioche, sriracha aioli, pickled sesame slaw, coriander and hand cut potatoes (usually $22.90) was an impressive looking dish. I did love the big chunk of crab meat we received. The pickled slaw was a fantastic accompaniment balancing out the salty carby potatoes and the salty but sweet soft shell crab.
The pork belly with fennel, apple puree, watermelon, mustard fruit and watercress (usually $23.90) was surprisingly easy to cut through and not too fatty. Again, great presentation and well-balanced with sweet apple puree, candied fruits and fresh watermelon. I wasn’t too keen on the maraschino cherry, but it did look good.
I was excited to see gumbo on the menu at Casey Jones, especially on a cold winter’s night. The gumbo of prawns, vongole, calamaretti, pork sausage, chilli, okra and black barley (usually $24.90) was a quirky take on the traditional stew. The use of okra was a smart idea using the vegetable’s natural slime to help thicken the stew. I liked the depth of flavour of the stew and was actually wishing for some white rice or bread to help mop it up.
The Wagyu rump with onions, cauliflower, mojo verde, aioli and smoked butter (usually $31.90) was perfection. Cooked medium rare, left to rest so that there were no bloody juices on the plate, and so easy to cut through. Though it was an intriguing and sophisticated looking dish, with some pretty cool pickled purple cauliflower, I couldn’t help but think ‘where are the chips?’. Perusing through the menu, I could only see a side of hand cut potatoes. No chips except on the kids menu? I’ll add chips to my feedback too.
It was time for dessert. One of the signature affogatos (there were 4 of them on the menu) that our table sampled was the After Dinner Mint with vanilla bean ice cream, peppermint crisps, mint chocolate biscuit crumbs, peppermint toffee shards and chocolate peppermint bailey float (usually $21). The purpose was to make your own dessert just the way you wanted it. That was a little hard given there were 4 of us sharing this dessert. We started off with just tasting the ice cream – very creamy. Then added the espresso – very strong. Then all the smashed chocolatey shards and crumbs – crunchy and tasty. I especially loved the chocolate peppermint toffee and just picked at that. After I had my fill, the others added the alcoholic bailey float. J described it as an alcoholic choc mint shake. I did like the slightly over the top presentation.
We each received a citrus pannacotta with chocolate soil and berry compote (not on the menu). It had set perfectly and danced its sexy little jiggle. I thought it was a very clean dessert as the pannacotta wasn’t too sugary. A nice light end to all that food!
Then the Casey Jones staff started cutting into the cakes in the display cabinet and we got to sample some. The chocolate mousse and profiterole cake was the bomb. Extremely light, moist with that awesome milk chocolate hit. I would definitely go back for this. We also tried the mango cheesecake but it just didn’t compare in my opinion, though I am more of a chocoholic.
Staff seemed really passionate about their roles being foodies themselves. The owners Josh and Shell wanted to open a suburban gastropub that focused on good food with a South American influence. I think they have done a fantastic job and I personally cannot wait to head back and try more of the food on offer. The family also own the George Harcourt Inn in Nicholls so they have years of experience in running a pub.
Casey Jones officially opened last weekend. The gastropub is open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s located at 15 Kingsland Parade in Casey.
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