As I travel Park Avenue in Worcester regularly, I feel as though it’s easy to lose sight of the forest for the trees. Sometimes you, and life, move so fast that it’s easy to forget to notice your most frequent surroundings. Take, for example, one rather non-descript building that blends right in on Park Ave. – Peppercorn’s Grille and Tavern. Having been there a handful of times previously, I knew that this space would house some great grub as well as one of the best beer selections in Worcester. Peppercorn’s has served Worcester for over 25 years. We were lucky enough to visit just a few days after they launched a brand new menu. With a focus on classic Italian dishes such as risotto, chicken parm, and various steaks, you would be hard-pressed to find something on the menu that you wouldn’t thoroughly enjoy.
At the end of the day, I was there for a burger – and not just any burger – the truffle Mac and cheeseburger ($13.99). All of Peppercorn’s burgers came served on a brioche bun with homemade fries. This particular burger featured a mac and cheese croquette, applewood smoked bacon and tomato jam. Given that this would be my first review of a burger adorned with everyone’s favorite childhood meal, I was eager to put in my two cents. I mean, it was a burger with Mac and cheese on it, and what could be better than that?
When the burger was presented at our table, it was stacked high and had great presence, but part of me hoped for slightly neater presentation. The steak knife holding it all together was a nice finishing touch, but the fries were scattered on the plate with disregard, an afterthought. A brioche bun is always my go-to when it comes to a tasty burger. They are soft and buttery and hold up well against anything that you want to pack in there. I found that the burger had unfortunately been overcooked. I still found the burger patty relatively juicy and seasoned nicely. The applewood bacon gave each bite a nice smokey flavor with a crispy textural component. As I had hoped, the mac and cheese was the star of the show. The croquette had been formed into the shape of a hockey puck and then deep fried. The exterior was crunchy but when you broke into it, it tasted of rich, creamy Mac and cheese – a definitively unique take on a cheeseburger. The other unassuming part of the burger that I enjoyed almost as much as the mac and cheese croquette was the tomato jam. Across between ketchup and actual jam, it actually lent a subtle spicy element to everything, while serving as a comforting and familiar condiment.
Peppercorn’s Grille and Tavern has every option that you might crave in a given night. They have a fantastic bar with plenty of local brews, several delicious salads to choose from if you’re being healthy, pasta dishes to fill you up and a chef’s surprise dish if you are feeling adventurous. Whatever your poison, Peppercorn’s has your culinary antidote to cure whatever ails you. Coming from someone who sometimes goes through life too quickly to enjoy everything around him, this is your reminder to slow down and take a look around, because there are great local places that have been serving the area’s finest for years and continue to do so. Make time to notice them and you could discover your next favorite restaurant, bar or local hang out has been here all along. If you have a favorite burger that you want me to try, tweet me at @EDioufUC5 and you might see your recommendation featured next month. Where will my burger quest take me in November? Until next time…