Picture yourself away for the weekend on a drive through the countryside. That moment you fall in love with a township, it's architecture, history and surrounding community. That feeling is what led Ben Davies to call Tamworth home and informs his latest endeavour.
The site of the Quality Hotel Powerhouse has become an icon of the Tamworth region in the NSW New England region and the newest space to be unveiled is an elegant and sophisticated restaurant and bar conceived by Paul Kelly Design and reminiscent of a bygone era.
The hotel now boasts a new bar and restaurant spaces designed to enjoy regional produce, local spirits and small-town brews, culminating in an appealing destination for locals and city folk alike.
Through the hotel foyer the Coal Bunker Bar beckons with it's timber- and velvet-lined walls, handcrafted bar tables and elegant, old-world detailing with brass fixtures, studded armchairs and heritage-inspired architecture.
The bar is adjacent to the Workshop Kitchen restaurant, presided over by General Manager Ben Davies and Chef David Hill. We take a seat with Ben to see what inspired this country town metamorphosis.
"It is a restaurant that makes you feel like you could be anywhere in the world," Ben Davies, General Manager
What made you fall in love with The Quality Hotel Powerhouse?
"I was inspired by Greg Maguire, the owner of The Powerhouse. He has an immeasurable love of the hospitality industry and over 40 years experience. In him, we have a wealth of industry knowledge and someone who is willing to invest in creating his 5-star vision for regional New South Wales. The passion and drive of The Powerhouse shines through our staff, they are genuine people committed to service and in our industry this can be hard to find."
What do you love about the local area and Tamworth community?
"When I moved to Tamworth people would often ask me why I didn’t choose a city like Sydney or Melbourne and I have always said, all you need to do is wake up in Tamworth and you will understand. It’s such a beautiful part of the world and has a strong sense of community. The local produce is amazing from grass fed beef to trout, fruit and vegetables and local wine, craft beer and spirits. We have some of the country’s finest producers and providores based here in the New England region. I always tell Sydneysiders that we are truly the lucky ones."
Tell us about working with Paul Kelly and your vision for the dining experience in Workshop Kitchen and Coal Bunker Bar?
"My vision was to create a unique dining hub that elicits a shock to your senses in terms of luxurious interiors, stylish service and with regional produce as the centrepiece. Paul Kelly Design is deservedly one of the top hospitality design firms in the country. Paul’s operational knowledge of our industry is second to none, he understands that aesthetics, food and service must work together to deliver an authentic and memorable dining experience. He also stayed true to the historic nature of our site, the Tamworth ‘power station’ that created Australia’s first electric street lighting in 1888."
Where is your favourite place to sit in the space?
"My favourite place is in the corner at table 24. I can watch the action in the kitchen and really appreciate the elegant space that Paul Kelly has designed and our local tradesmen have crafted. It is a restaurant that makes you feel like you could be anywhere in the world, be it New York, London or even Paris. Never underestimate regional Australia!"
The Workshop Kitchen have kindly shared a recipe with us here