Location: Southern Cross Club, Tuggeranong
Food et: Slow roasted pork belly, Balinese style duck, Turkish and rose water mousse.
Let me start off by saying, my Dad is from the country. He lived there growing up, and moved back there last year. Dad’s idea of dinner out is a chicken schnitzel at the Peak Hill Bowling Club, of which he is a board member. Peak Hill is situated on the Bogan River – need I say more?
So, when Dad suggested that he wanted to go to the Southern Cross Club in Tuggeranong for his birthday dinner, I wasn’t surprised.
The Tuggeranong Southern Cross Club has a bistro downstairs, and I think that is what everyone pictures when they think of sports clubs and the like. Steak and chips, cutlets and vegies – that sort of thing. However, Peppercress is different.
We arrived on a Thursday night at 7pm, to find the restaurant, located on the top floor of the club, deserted. For the entire two hours we were there, only two other tables were filled. The waiter did say that they were busy the night before, and I hope for their sake it’s true. The space is large and elegantly decorated with lots of lush fabrics. The tables are spaced quite a distance away from each other, which is a marvellous idea for intimate dinners.
In edition to the décor not being what you expect, the food is an even bigger surprise. Modern, imaginative and so, so, different from your usual club fair of bangers and mash! Since it was Dad’s birthday, and since Dad was paying, we decided to go all out and get ridiculous amounts of wine to compliment our ridiculous amounts of food. The wine menu was a little more expensive than I would have liked, if I was paying myself. But I’m a cheap drunk. Literally. $5 for a bottle and I’m set.The food however, is really well priced for what you get.For entrée I got the Slow Roasted Pork Belly with Chardonnay poached apple, seeded mustard vinaigrette, herb salad – minus the mustard vinaigrette, because I am allergic to vinegar.
This was awesome. Really salty and a little fatty, just how I like my pork belly. I was extremely happy with this dish. It was the perfect size, so as to not fill you up for the main. Everyone else in my family was on the same wave length and ordered the Calamari and Chorizo salad, with pan-fried haloumi, and an orange dressing. They all loved it, and my Dad, who had never tried haloumi before, is now obsessed with squeaky cheese.
For the main course I ordered the Balinese Style Duck Breast with peanut and potato hash, and orange and chilli glaze (on the side).
The dish was good, but not amazing. I feel like there could have been, should have been, more flavour. The duck was cooked perfectly and had a light coating, but there was a bit too much fat for my liking. The potato and peanut hash was awesome and tasted fantastic with the orange and chilli glaze drizzled over it. All in all I enjoyed it, but felt it was missing something.
My brother, A, and his boyfriend, C, both got the Pappardelle Pasta with Lamb Ragu and Ricotta, which consisted of thick ribbon pasta, tossed with lamb ragu, Sicilian olives, fresh mint and ricotta cheese. I tried it, and it was deliciously rich and smooth and the olives gave it a salt hit that was just fantastic. The mint was great edition too, giving the dish a fresh taste. I preferred this over my own dish, actually.
My sister K, got the Couscous Strudel, which was a filo pasty parcel filled with couscous (obviously), chick peas, fetta, bell peppers and eggplant. This was a great dish, lots of flavour and character – and it’s a good vegetarian alternative to the usual ‘pasty’ type meal.
Dad got the Moroccan Lamb Rump, which was slow cooked and served with rosemary rosti, madeira jus and some vegetables. They call this one the ‘house specialty’ and I can see why. This was a perfect dish. The lamb was cooked to perfection, tender and coated in a mild spice that really complimented the flavours of the meat. One thing I would add, is some kind of yoghurt mint/cucumber sauce, as I always feel that goes well with spiced lamb.For dessert, I couldn’t go past the Turkish and Rose Water flavoured mousse, which came with Persian floss and strawberries.
This was phenomenal. The mousse was creamy and smooth, the flavours really shining through but not over powering. The floss was a fun edition and was oh so pretty and tasty.
A got the house speciality of Soft centred warm Chocolate Pudding with vanilla bean ice cream rolled in crushed pistachio. The pudding was rich and chocolaty, a bit much for myself but my brother liked it. The stand out of the dish, though, was the ice cream. The crushed pistachio casing really gave a new dimension to the ice cream and just really worked.
K ordered the Apple and Rhubarb crumble, served with vanilla bean ice cream. This was a pretty standard, but tasty, crumble. The topping, which I always fail tremendously when I try to make myself, was crunchy and sweet. The filling was sweet without being sickly – it all came together for a hearty, soul cheering dessert.
The service at Peppercress was top notch, more what you would expect from some of Canberra’s fine dining institutions, than ‘the club’. We were shown to our table by a really nice waiter, who stayed with us most of the night and was just brilliant. Dad had been drinking and the waiter handled him perfectly, giving as good as he got – I think Dad thought they were best mates by the end of the night. And I think the waiter was glad to be entertained on a quiet night.
Verdict: It makes me sad that this place was deserted. It was brilliant. As soon as I left I said that I would write this blog post in the hope of boosting their attendance, because they deserve it. And Tuggeranong deserves a fine dining option, damn it!. Take your partner here on a date, go there with a group of friends, or take the whole family for a special celebration. Just do it!