Bianca: Dining at the local club was reserved for special occasions growing up, with many a meal had at our local Five Dock RSL, ‘Wings Chinese’ anybody? And though some may scoff, you do occasionally get that little gem. With Dede’s at Sydney Rowing club remaining one of our favourite stalwarts. Step in Rawsons restaurant at the Epping Club.
I won’t lie, prior to an invitation being sent our way I had never dined in Epping. Which was a point of interest discussed with executive chef Nick Whitehouse, noting there wasn’t much to draw diners to the North West. A point I’d have to agree with. With an impressive background having worked in a number of hatted and Michelin starred restaurants around the world, it was clear the Epping Club was wanting to seriously muscle in on the dining scene with a heavy hitting chef at the helm.
With a very generous lunch menu consisting of either a 2 courser for $29.90 or 3 courses for $39.90 it is seriously, ridiculously good value. The restaurant is tucked away to the right of the main entrance and boasts a fairly large and elegant dining room.
Whilst we did opt for the 3 course lunch menu we were also brought out a few extra dishes.
We started with Organic Sourdough and house-made cultured butter $6.50 (for 2) and Gordo Green Olives $6.50. Yes everyone knows I love bread and butter and the added touch of a house made butter makes it all the more special. No complaints here! I ordinarily hate green olives but these were plump and meaty. Very easy to continue eating.
Our first course consisted of the Whipped Goats curd Ricotta w/scorched tomatoes, panzanella and aged balsamic. A must order and a great example of simple and humble ingredients being executed well. The combination of the charred tomatoes, with the slightly sour and delicate ricotta mixed with the tang of the balsamic made for a stand-out dish.
One item I was glad Nick pushed us to try from the dinner menu was the OG House smoked salmon – w/capers, rye crumbs, sour cream cheese and dill. In essence a simple dish with a great deal of skill and restraint to truly make the hero, the salmon, shine. With a velvety mouth-feel akin to that of a confit protein. The toasted rye crumbs providing some crunch and to tie it all together, the sour cream cheese to add some tartness.
Being Italian I can’t say I’m not too adventurous when it comes to my pasta dishes, sticking to my traditional tried and tested tomato based sauces but I was intrigued by the Duck Ravioli –w/ pancetta and orange. The flavouring was interesting with a slight Asian twist. But Alex and I did find the use of the orange peel slightly jarring.
Moving on to the mains, we heard the words ‘special’ and ‘brisket’ so that was one decision easily made. The 24hr Brisket w/slaw and house made condiments sounded excellent in theory but faltered slightly in its execution. The flavour was unquestionable, with a rich well-defined smokiness, a lovely kick from the spices on the outer edges. It was a little tougher than other briskets I’ve encountered but the accompanying house-made BBQ sauce was a perfect accompaniment to cut through the richness of the brisket.
Our second main was the Smoked Rump Cap –w/roasted onion shells, mushroom and red wine sauce. Cooked expertly, a gorgeous medium rare- to medium. This cut is prized in South American cookery and churrasco and I have had it numerous times but sadly it did not live up to previous incarnations I have had. It was hard to pinpoint wherein the fault lied. It was cooked well, the mushrooms were tender and had that earthiness that offset the richness of the beef and the onions had a nice exterior char whilst retaining a bit of bite. The jus was on the thin side and perhaps a thicker or meatier sauce would have amplified this dish.
Dessert is always a highlight and the promise of peanut butter is always one to induce a bit of excitement. The Peanut Butter & Jelly Panna Cotta –w/olive oil shortbread crumbs on paper sounded to be a heavy ending for the meal but the panna cotta was unlike a traditional rich and creamy panna cotta. It had the texture and lightness of that of a semi-freddo. With a bold peanut butter flavour, the sourness from the jam aided to ease what could otherwise be an overly heavy dessert and the biscuit crumbs added some texture.
And finally freshly baked Passionfruit Madeline’s – I love passion-fruit and cake, so it was the perfect combination. A dainty way to end a meal, dainty and food are usually not in my repertoire so the peanut butter panna cotta was definitely more to my tastes.
While there were hit and miss dishes I do see the appeal and at that price point for lunch, taste and value for money is unquestionable.
Photos by Alex