The skin of this duck confit is crisp,
its strands of succulent meat soaking up a sweet star anise sauce.
(Note: This is a sponsored blog post.)
I am curious because it was so many years since I dined at this Cremorne stalwart serving European style dishes for the last fifteen years.
Located off Military road, Peppercorn shares a communal al fresco dining area with neighbouring restaurants. I recall fish and chips lunches washed down with Crown lagers on lazy afternoons in summer.
Peppercorn in Cremorne is also one of over 3oo restaurants in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and South Australia found on free-wines.com, a mobile phone app offering a free bottle of wine whenever you dine at one of the restaurants in their stable.
Free-wines.com ~ How it Works
Free-wines.com app is available to both iPhone and Android mobile phone users.
Simply download the app onto your phone, insert your post code and you have immediate access to restaurants offering a free bottle of wine that can be sorted by cuisine, state and distance from your location.
Each restaurant on the app offers a choice of either a red or white bottle of wine when you dine at the establishment. It should be noted each restaurant sets its own condition of a minimum spend for you to be entitled to the free bottle of wine.
My experience with Free-wines.com app
Prior to Peppercorn, I reviewed some of the restaurants on the app and found this “free wine” may not be as good a deal as it seems at certain restaurants.
For example, some restaurants impose a minimum spend of $240 per table before you are eligible to a free bottle of wine which may cost a mere $15 a bottle at your local bottle shop. In my opinion, these restaurants are far from serious in offering a value proposition to its diners.
Therefore, my advice is to firstly check the minimum spend condition for the restaurant and then the wine on offer to ascertain if it is indeed good value before making a reservation. In addition, the vintage of the wines are not explicitly specified except in the image which at best is difficult to decipher. There are tasting notes however, some of which by wine luminary James Halliday.
At Peppercorn this evening, the condition for eligibility is a minimum spend of $50 per person*, which equates to $200 for our table of 4 diners. The Clairault cabernet sauvignon merlot on offer here retails for $22 a bottle (2013 vintage) direct from the winery. So, I leave it to you to decide if this proposition is good value.
(* Presumably this minimum spend of $50 per person is calculated based on food spend only.)
However, our waitress tells us that neither bottle advertised on the app is available for redemption tonight. Upon checking with the manager, she returns to offer an alternative pair of white and red wine should we decide to claim our “free bottle of wine”. The issue here is whether the alternative bottles are at least of equivalent value to those advertised on the app.
Mysaucepan and I are dining with our friends Molly and KC this evening. At the end, we decide there is little value in this particular proposition and proceed to order a wine of our own choosing so that we are not restricted by a minimum spend of $50 per person.
After mulling over the wine list, we choose a Tim Adams riesling from Clare Valley being the reliable drop that it is.
Crisp with a fresh citrusy taste, I like the dry lemony finish of this young wine.
Fresh fig salad
One of the reasons autumn is my favourite season of the year is figs.
This fresh fig salad is tossed with buffalo cheese, artichoke wedges, mesclun, salty strips of jamon, chives and a rich and tangy Stilton dressing.
We agree it’s a pretty good start to our dinner.
Peppercorn seafood chowder
Who cares if it’s a bit retro and dated but I’m a fan of a good clam chowder when the weather cools in autumn.
A Peppercorn seafood chowder comes with generous chunks of fish, scallop and prawns. Crisp buttered sourdough leaves us little choice in mopping up the rich, creamy soup.
Sea scallops are lightly seared and mixed with a sweet mango, tomato and coriander salsa.
Baked barramundi fillet
My barramundi fillet is seared to golden brown, then baked in a cast iron skillet with a rich tomato fondue, spiced chorizo slices, tangy pickled lemon, olives, buffalo cheese, spinach and specs of basil.
It is a rather likeable dish with some delicious seafood ideas this autumn.
Confit of duck
It’s not entirely surprising the Francophile in Mysaucepan sees her ordering the duck confit with crispy skin, its strands of succulent meat soaking up a sweet star anise, ginger and beetroot sauce.
But I’m not sure if baby bok choy and coriander sprigs are good for this dish.
Grilled John Dory fillets
John Dory fillets are lightly seared and comes with a couple of prawns, broccolini and lemon oil.
The food at Peppercorn has German, French and Italian influences with pizza, pasta, veal scallopini, slow-cooked lamb shank and pork belly on the menu. Nothing too fancy, just generous portions that are reasonably priced.
The free-wines.com app is a good marketing tool for restaurants in Sydney’s competitive dining scene. I am definitely not against a restaurant imposing a minimum charge for eligibility of a free bottle of wine provided the wine itself is of a certain standard and quality.
For this app to be successful in attracting serious food and wine drinkers, my suggestion is to impose a minimum standard of wine on restaurants (based on price) just as the restaurant imposes a minimum spend on diners. Displaying a recommended retail price (RRP) and vintage for the wine will allow customers to better judge the value proposition because it is obvious some restaurants on the app are looking to increase their average spend with little value in return to diners. At the end, it is the customer who decides on the value proposition.
At free-wines.com‘s homepage, the mantra is ~ “The best things in life are free”.
But I prefer to say “Nothing in life is free, not even the fresh air that we breath”.
So dear readers, have you checked out free-wines.com app and if so, what do you think about it?
ChopinandMysaucepan dined at Peppercorn courtesy of free-wines.com. Prices are included for readers’ information. All views and opinions on this blog post are our own.
332 Military road, Cremorne
New South Wales
Tel: +61 2 9908 1823
Opening hours: Breakfast Saturday & Sunday from 10am, Lunch Monday to Friday 11am – 3pm, Saturday & Sunday 9am – 5pm Dinner Monday to Sunday 5pm – 10pm.