Disclaimer: I was a guest of The Highway at this sneak peek dinner.
date of visit: Monday 29 April 2013
Last year you may remember that I took my parents to The Highway for my mum’s birthday dinner. It happened to be Game Week, something about which I was quite excited, and then we all promptly ordered from the non-game menu.
This year Game Week is Game Season and The Highway invited along a few Adelaide bloggers, and their guests, to take a look at the menu. My friend, Rob, and I were joined by the guys from The Chopping Board and Xin and his wife, Tina, from Adelaide Foodies. Andy was left at home on baby sitting duties.
We started off in the Lounge Bar with a tasting selection of most of the dishes on the game menu. Nick Finn, the Highway’s head chef, talked us through the dishes and some of the thought processes behind putting the menu together. Nick was not only really friendly but did a great job of both explaining and selling the menu.
Things kicked off with the rabbit cacciatore. The idea behind this was to make part of the dish something with which people are really familiar and comfortable: that’s the cacciatore part. And as rabbit is perhaps one of the less obviously gamey meats, it acts as a good vehicle for carrying the cacciatore’s flavours. As rabbit is lean lots of sauce and slow cooking is a good thing.
Next out of the kitchen was a platter of kangaroo burger sliders. The kangaroo burger actually features as a main course dish, so these were to give us an idea of what the finished dish will be like. The kangaroo meat made a really good burger (I thought): quite dense but absolutely packed with flavour. The buns had bush chutney on one side and an aioli on the other – I thought that we could have done with even more aioli but that was my only criticism!
This was followed by crocodile skewers with shoestring chips. I think crocodile is such a pointless meat. It tastes of nothing. I’ve had it before and thought that, and I still think that. The skewers were served with a fearsomely hot chilli sauce. I am good with spicy food, and I wouldn’t have described it as too hot for me, but I really thought that for most people (including the ‘standard punter’ who the chef has to have in mind with any dish) this would have been too hot. Sing agreed – saying it was too hot for him. Nick acknowledged that everyone in the kitchen at the Highway is a bit of a chilli fiend so they may be slightly out of touch! I’m not sure if they’ll have been able to tone it down, so if you order the skewers, tread carefully with that chilli sauce!
We wrapped up the bar side tasting with the slow braised Denver venison, served with gnocchi. Super rich and warming, the perfect rib sticking meal for a cold winter’s night. And the gnocchi (which the Highway does buy in) were amazing.
At this point I was pretty full, but we all toddled off into the Bistro for our dinner. I ordered the venison and Rob chose the duck breast with lentils, tomato sugo and witlof. The duck breast was described as crispy skin and, unfortunately, it wasn’t. Also, both Rob and I thought that the duck breast was overcooked. However, on this point I am prepared to accept that it was probably cooked to the exact degree of doneness the kitchen was after, and how I like my duck cooked most people would describe as undercooked. Rob did rave about the lentil and tomato base (I didn’t get to try that, but trust me, Rob knows what he’s talking about).
The kitchen provided us with one last treat: a huge dessert tasting platter. Crema catalana served with blood orange sorbet and basil syrup (I loathe things orange but Rob really rated this very very highly), churros with chocolate sauce and caramel sauce (the caramel sauce was my favourite), a chocolate torte, a berry parfait and, probably the star of the platter for me, a beautifully light strawberry and moscato jelly, topped with a very light white chocolate mousse and Persian fairy floss.
Now I can tell you right now that if I saw that dish on a menu I would never ever order (I’m not a big fan of strawberries and generally moscato isn’t my thing and I loathe white chocolate) it but I absolutely loved it.
Unfortunately for you, these are all the summer desserts and they won’t be on the menu for much longer …
Drinks wise, I very much enjoyed the Fraser Gallop Chardonnay (available by the glass, and reason enough to go to the Highway!). We also had a bottle of the Innocent Bystander Pinot Noir – a very red berry fruit forward approachable Pinot.
I think the menu does a great job of taking some potentially unfamiliar ingredients and making them very accessible. Which is what it’s all about: encouraging people to try something a little out of their comfort zone.
Game Season, an annual event, this year runs until 15 May in the Bistro at the Highway. Bookings recommended.