It might seem odd that I took TimmyC and some friends to the Southern Cross club in Tuggeranong to eat, especially when no one had heard of Peppercress. I however, have wanted to go to Peppercress for years ever since I saw FPJ‘s post about fine dining in Tuggeranong and now with its recent addition to the Entertainment book it was the best time to go.
We had arrived a bit late because I became a member (which allows me to go to several other clubs) but we were promptly seated, given table water and a menu with the specials. I was really surprised to find that each menu category came at a set price; all the entrées and desserts were $12 and all the mains were $25.00 which was really reasonable when you’re talking Waygu beef cheeks, Black Angus Sirloin steaks and lamb rump.
Entree~ (all $12.00)
Calamari and chorizo salad house specialty pan fried haloumi, baby salad leaves and orange dressing. I chose this entree because I like all the ingredients individually but I was curious to see how these flavours worked together. The calamari was extremely tender and easy to chew although its flavours were overpowered by the spice of the chorizo and the salt from the haloumi. I did like the addition of the sweet orange segments which gave it a real sweet and refreshing feel.
Scallop and cauliflower roasted cauliflower and hazelnut soup, seared scallops, coriander persillade. Scallops are often paired with a cauliflower purée but when I saw the words ‘hazelnut’ and ‘soup’, I was super confused. The scallops themselves were rather small and thin which sat in a pool of bland cauliflower soup with a strong hazelnut after taste. I think they needed to add more of the coriander seasoning or salt which might have helped with the flavours. I didn’t really enjoy this.
Bruschetta with chef’s choice of topping ($6.90). I was really puzzled not to see a single tomato/Spanish onion/balsamic vinegar on the plate but my friend pointed out that the menu did say ‘chef’s choice of topping’. The haloumi was over cooked which made it dry and crumbly like fetta and not soft and ‘squeaky’ like it should have been (the haloumi in my salad was fine). I think I would have disappointed if I ordered this without reading the menu properly.Mains~ (all $25.00)
Moroccan lamb rump house specialty slow cooked and served with rosemary and potato rosti, Madeira jus. It looked a little dry as I was cutting pieces but when I took a bite it was really moist and tender. I really liked lamb flavours mixed in with the seasoning but it was made better when I dipped it in the jus. I had to eat my rosti fast as it sat there in a pool of sauce it was quickly losing its crispiness.
Berkshire pork, baked apple and crackling celeriac puree, cider and caraway cream sauce. The baked apple was the smallest albeit cutest little apple I have ever seen. The pork was very lean and therefore made it really dry especially as you worked your way through the thicker part. The sauce was very nice but there wasn’t enough to go around to cover all the dry shreds which I told TimmyC to not bother finishing. It really needed layers of fat through or on top of to give it some sort of flavour and maybe help the meat to be a little more moist. I asked the waitress what cut of pork it was as it was very lean and became very dry, she agreed that what we had left on the plate looked very dry and she had never seen that on a customer’s plate before.Black Angus Sirloin char grilled sirloin of naturally grown grass-fed from Riverina region in NSW, served with horseradish and potato purée, watercress salad and cafe de Pars butter. My friend asked for the steak to be rare and although it did come out pretty red, she would have preferred it more uncooked as it was a little tough to cut through and a little chewy for her liking.48 hour braised Tajima Waygu beef cheek Parisian mash, button mushrooms, speck and rich thyme jus. My friend described this as ‘beef clouds’ and with that description I had to lean over and try some; I agree that it was a very accurate description. It was effortless to cut and the tender beef with all the rich flavours of the jus and creamy mash just screamed winter comfort food. This was my pick for the best main on the table, how is it that it is only $25?!
Thick cut chips with lemon and rosemary flavoured sea salt ($6.90). They did give us more than in the photo, it was just my instinct to eat and it wasn’t until half way through the serve did I realise that I didn’t take a photo. They were served hot, crispy and well seasoned, all that you would want in a chip.Dessert~ ($12.00)
Noting that I was taking photos of all the food, the waitress had had a bet with the chef that I was going to instagram my meal. She asked me straight up if I used instagram and if I was going to put a photo up of my meal and when I said yes, she was extremely happy that she was right. She then said if we ordered dessert, the chef was going to make it extra pretty. TimmyC had already chosen his dessert before we ordered our meals so of course we were going to order desserts! Apparently everything but the ice-cream and edible flowers is made in-house.
We asked if the desserts were going to be prettier than usual, what happens if other people come in wanting the same level of prettiness? She said that they could ask for their desserts to be made just as pretty and the kitchen would do it. So I urge you dear reader if you ever happen to come to Peppercress, ask for your dessert to be extra pretty.
Soft centred warm chocolate pudding house specialty served with vanilla bean ice cream rolled in crushed pistachio (made to order and took 20 minutes). When I had taken a photo of this dessert from every angle, I wanted to dip a spoon in for a photo to show off the cake’s consistency. It was slightly gooey/moist but it had no chocolate sauce, which the waitress said that there usually was. It didn’t matter; it was still warm and decadent which was balanced out by the ice cream and nuts.
Braeburn apple and macadamia crumble with blackberries and cream. My friend really enjoyed his dessert. It had a nice mix of fruit with a nice spice blend, topped with crunchy crumble topping. It was made better by cream that it was served with.
Traditional crème brulee served with short bread. There were a lot of different desserts I wanted to try but I settled for crème brulee as everyone else on the table had my other options covered. It was served with the cutest little row of flowers and a beautiful caramelised sugar hard top. The custard itself was smooth but it had a very thick consistency. With all the over decorating they forgot the short bread. It was one of the biggest serves of brulee I have come across.Eton mess new season strawberries, raspberries, messed in whipped cream and meringue, served with vanilla bean ice cream. I was sad to see that the raspberries were not fresh and that there was only one strawberry but it didn’t stop this dessert being the best one on the table. The mix of berries with the ice cream and cream made for a refreshing summer dessert and the flavours complimented each other perfectly (think strawberries and cream).
We found the staff to be most friendly, patient and helpful. We were pleasantly surprised with the calibre of food here but I wouldn’t have described it as fine dining. It has a relaxed environment and would be perfect for large family get togethers. I would come back for the mains and desserts and skip out on the entrées unless they improve.
Address: Southern Cross Club, Pitman St, Tuggeranong, ACT
Phone: (02) 6293 7200
Opening hours: Dinner Wednesday – Saturday from 6pm