Bakery Café

Hyper Hyper and Punch the Ploughman – Nowra NSW Restaurant Review

This little cafe just opened up in the Hyper Hyper space in Nowra and I’m here for it. There’s plenty of outdoor seating, good vibes, really artisan food, and good tunes.

I had their Lemon Citrus and Strawberry Tart ($6) on my first visit, with a coffee from next door after a night shift and before my drive back to Sydney. It was really pretty good. Eggy, like a portuguese tart, with a good buttery pastry and a lightly tart component from the strawberry. The best part of all was that it was not too sweet, just the right amount of sweet and sour for a little treat.

This is only an initial impression – more to come as I go back and back. They’re only in their first days now, but I think they’re on their way to becoming a Nowra institution.


The Maple Bacon Tart ($8) with tomato, caramelised onion, bab spinach, parmesan, and egg was delicious. It was extremely quiche like but with a puff pastry rather than shortcrust, with a deliciously umami mixture of fillings, as well as a great and highly complex, mildly sweet optional chutney on top. At $8 this was quite well sized and punched above its pricing in terms of flavour and fulfillment. I later brought one of these to my friend and colleague DTC. He appeared to enjoy it.

The Drifter Toastie ($12) with roast beef, potato rosti,beetroot relish, horseradish mayo, Jarlsberg, cheddar, baby spinach and caramelised onion was also a treat. One of the best sandwiches, toasted or untoasted, that I’ve had in a while, each bite of Punch the Ploughman’s drifter was full of flavour and texture. The meat had a tinge of smoke and charcoal grill flavour to it, and the serving of Jarlsberg was very generous. My eating (and romantic) partner especially loved the texture and flavour added by the potato rosti, and yet again this sandwich is a star showing of Nowra’s finest.

Baked on site, this Rhubarb Tart ($6) was not very different to the strawberry tart above, though I think a little sweeter and less tarty given the different fruit.

The Handkerchief Treat ($4), also baked on site, is a delicious mix between a cookie and a cupcake, with a slightly crispy exterior crust and a richly buttery interior. Flavoured with spiced pear syrup, this little treat is not too sweet, reminiscent of nothing in particular from Cafe Cre Asion expect for maybe in its high quality.

The Blueberry Danish, another in-house creation (they get some of their other stuff from Brickfields, but I guess it’s really only worth writing about the stuff they bake on site), was not bad, but probably not as good as some of their other offerings. The pastry of this was quite dense and bready, and I found the filling of lemon curd and blueberry to be a bit sweeter than I’d like.

I’m not usually one for smashed avocado ($12) as I feel like there are often more interesting options available, but after ripping through most of Punch the Ploughman’s menu in our first few visits there was not much left uneaten. I shouldn’t have discounted their avo offering so easily – this particular smashed avo was quite delightful, with a bed of crispy grilled sourdough and a sprinkling of hemp seeds, tomato salsa and pomegranate. This dish, in two easily shareable pieces, exhibited an extremely high degree of freshness and would easily sell for 50% more at any Sydney cafe.

The Brekky Burrito ($15) with mildly-local South Coast Tilba Jersey milk haloumi (though to be honest, Tilba is further from Nowra than Nowra is from Sydney), dukkah scrambled eggs, tomato salsa, avocado, percorino and sriracha had amazing and unexpected kebab energy. Anyone who knows me knows that I love a good kebab, and the overall Middle-Easternness of this burrito (wrapped in a pita, not tortilla) elevated this above every other brekky burrito I’ve had to date.

A rare misstep for Punch the Ploughman is their Brekky Burger ($14), with bacon, scrambled egg, aioli and chilli jam, and avocado on Turkish bread. Though I’m a big fan of the brekky burrito, I had two areas of complaint for this burger, which appears intermittently on their specials board. The first is the bacon, which was in my opinion a bit harder than I would’ve liked. There is always a fine line between crispy and hard, and I didn’t feel like they walked on the right side of that tightrope. My second point of criticism would be about the chilli jam. I understand that it’s trying to be different from all the other bacon and egg offerings in town, but it was a flavour combination that personally did not tickle my pickle. Get the burrito instead. Maybe you can ask them to add bacon to it. I don’t know. I’d be too shy to.

Another item off the specials menu, another item I was less keen on is the Quiche of the Day with salad ($14). You can tell that by this point I’ve already eaten everything I actually want from them. Starting with the positives, the salad was quite good, with the surprise showing of a little bit of smashed avocado and feta. The quiche, however, did not live up to my expectations. It’s vegetarianess wasn’t stated on the specials board, and although I didn’t ask I don’t think that’s necessarily a given for all quiches. It was very pumpkin forward, and whilst I did like the egg and feta I felt that overall it was lesser than their much better maple bacon tart, which is extremely quiche-like in and of itself. I also felt that the special sauce from the maple bacon tart would’ve gone a long way to adding some more flavour to this, but I say that at risk of sounding like I should’ve just ordered the tart from the start. This quiche might be good for someone who is prohibited from having meat or bacon and who wouldn’t miss that extra dimension of umami that a good cured meat provides, but for the non-dietarily-restricted out there there’s definitely a better option already on the menu.

The Journeyman Toastie ($12), the second of their three toasties (the other is vegetarian and I have no plans to try it given my other experiences with their vegetarian food), both in order of me trying it as well as in my enjoyment. This particular toastie consisted of ham, tomato apple chutney, Jarslberg, cheddar, and a whole load of baby spinach. Though it was lesser than the Drifter, I found myself enjoying the synergy between the saltiness of the deceptively thick ham, the sourness of the pickle, and the BBQ-sauce-like tomato apple chutney. The intermingling of flavours was different and new, but also not crazy like that of the brekky burger. A very safe and good choice, though when I brought my colleague DTC a surprise toastie for lunch I got him the Drifter instead.

This vanilla custard tart ($5), baked in-house, was pretty good. It was substantially sized, with a soft and creamy and not-too-sweet filling with the occasional black dot of goodness. The pastry was also soft (sadly), which I did not like as much as the Portuguese tart at Hyper Hyper and supplied by The Portuguese Corner. It came room-temperature, and though I wanted to take it home and heat it up in the oven to see if it would make it any better, it did not survive the 850 metre drive home before it was eaten. There was a red traffic light along the way to blame for that.

This is an in-house raspberry muffin ($5), which was pretty good, with softness, sweetness, and some white custard-cream like substance baked in.

The 14th item I tried at Punch the Ploughman was this chocolate chai cake with strawberries, vanilla cream, and walnuts. My partner had actually saved me some of hers from her previous trip down to Nowra, but sadly one of our cats got to it before me. This cake was not too sweet, with an interesting chai presence and extreme moistness owing to the mountain of cream. The cake pieces were chocolately with a brownie like consistency, which was different. Not bad, but too much for one human.

I finally managed to try the steak and ale pie ($8) at Punch the Ploughman on my final morning in Nowra, after being in town for the last three months. Perhaps the pie was better as a concept rather than a reality, and perhaps I had hyped it up in my mind too much before finally getting to eat it, but sadly it did not hit the spot, flavour-wise. The topping of their house chutney rather than the standard tomato sauce was a good move, but the flavour of mirepox, beef, and ale was exactly as it should have been, but I’m afraid just didn’t hit the salty spot that I was looking for that day. Despite this, I can say with certainty that the consistency and ingredient-packed nature of the filling was far superior to local pie-based competitor Earnest Arthur, whose pies I have found too strong in gravy and too low in solids (but more to my preference in terms of flavours).

This lumberjack hummingbird cake ($6), made by a customer, was not bad. Relatively moist, with a good apple-like flavour and interesting textural differences between the top layer and the body of the cake. I don’t know if it will be a regular thing.

OVERALL I’ve eaten most of their menu, and all but one item that I actually want to eat from Punch the Ploughman. Most of their stuff is great, though their meat pies elude me, as they come on at around 10:30 (after I get home from a night shift) and disappear a few hours after that (before I wake up after my final night shift and drive back to Sydney). What can you do?

(EDIT: See above, finally got the pie)

Both their sweet stuff and their savoury stuff is good, but I would avoid their vegetarian stuff in favour of their meated stuff for the non-vegetarians out there.

Punch the Ploughman
85 North St, Nowra NSW 2541

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