Mushroom Mania 2014 at The Highway


Disclaimer: My mushroom meal was paid for by the Australian Mushroom Growers Association (AMGA).

A couple of weeks ago I was approached by the AMGA to see if I was interested in joining them in promoting #mushroommania2014.

You may have noticed that there are relatively few recipes featuring mushrooms on this site. This is because no matter how much I like them (and I do, very much) Andy will not countenance them. Apparently, they taste of dirt. I guess they are one of those polarising ingredients.

However, they are super healthy, come in a variety of forms/shapes/flavours and are both flexible and extremely easy to use. At their simplest, raw and sliced into a green salad is an easy start and they often play a supporting role in a good beef and mushroom pie. And then there are dishes where the mushies themselves have the opportunity to shine. Of course, they are also ‘meat for vegetarians’ (I really hope I’m not the only person who remembers that ad!) and will often feature in a vegetarian menu.

This was one occasion where I didn’t feel bad about leaving Andy at home. I rustled up a couple of friends who were happy to eat mushrooms and we headed along to The Highway, which is supporting mushroom mania to the extent that Nick Finn, the head chef, has developed a mushroom month menu.

Due to quite a late booking for a school night (all three of us have small children so bed time came before food) so we passed on entrées. But for the record, I would definitely have chosen the truffle and taleggio polenta sticks.

All three of us ended up choosing the porcini gnocchi with blue cheese and white wine cream sauce (how much of a perfect winter dish does that sound?) with one of us opting to add prawns.


This was a really well balanced dish. There are a lot of strong flavours at play here and getting them right, as well as getting the gnocchi right, is something that not all kitchens will get right. The gnocchi were light and pillowy and carried the sauce perfectly. There was enough sauce to coat the gnocchi but not drown them and the dish actually tasted of mushroom with the blue cheese adding a shot of piquancy.


While we might have passed on entrée, we did find room for dessert and we all tried out the Mushroom Patch. The menu describes this as chocolate soil, pistachio sponge and caramel ice cream. It was decorated with mushroom caps that were a marshmallow/meringue hybrid. This dish really split the table – from the enthusiastic “I would definitely order this again!” to the much less sure “I don’t think I would …”. Personally, I’m not a fan of marshmallow so I would have loved the dish had the mushroom caps not been there. I would have loved it even more had it been a big slab of pistachio cake with chocolate sauce and caramel ice cream … Is that because I’m a piggy?

Yet again the Highway gets a big tick.

Now, if you like mushrooms and you’re active on social media, you have the opportunity to win yourself a $100 gift card during July. Just eat out (you do have to eat out) and enjoy a mushroom meal and then share it via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

While this competition is open Australia wide, if you’re looking for some Adelaide based inspiration, you might want to suss out some of the following venues (thank you to the AGMA for these suggestions – I have not necessarily eaten at these places!): Vino Ristorante, Auge, Assaggio and Regattas. Of course, plenty of other restaurants and pubs will have mushrooms in at least one dish – so you really have no excuse!

What is your favourite mushroom meal?

The Highway
290 Anzac Highway
Plympton SA 5038
ph: 08 8297 8155

The Highway / HWY on Urbanspoon

Games Season at The Highway

20130429_194909Crocodile skewers – beware the chilli sauce!

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!

20130429_195920Venison with gnocchi

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.

20130429_214222Dessert tasting platter … no game!

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.

Mitran da Dhaba

date of visit: Saturday 16 March 2013

No picture today, I’m afraid. Mitran da Dhaba is a tiny, almost nondescript restaurant that sits on Anzac Highway, opposite the bright lights of the Highway Hotel. We’d been over at the Highway’s Craft Beer Festival (write up to come) and needed some dinner. The options were to head home and order pizza or to try out this vegetarian curry house.

When we walked in, the restaurant was empty. It only has a handful of tables and it’s all quite basic. The room is, rather unfortunately, dominated by a massive television (during our visit, we were able to watch a good chunk of Antiques Roadshow …). That’s about the shiniest thing there: a couple of specials were written on a blackboard and a small counter sits at the far end of the room.

The menus were a bit tatty and the selection of dishes is, unlike many curry houses, quite limited. All the dishes are vegetarian so you don’t get the endless permutations you do elsewhere (chicken madras, beef madras, lamb madras, prawn madras – yes, we do get the idea!). The descriptions aren’t particularly wordy but if you’re not overly familiar with Indian vegetarian food the woman who served us was lovely and I’m sure would be happy to offer more detailed explanations.

Despite being an avowed omnivore, one thing I could do is be a vegetarian in India. Indian vegetarian food is not vegetarian food that’s trying to taste like meat (something I never get) and it’s not trying to replicate meat based dishes without the meat. It’s all about singing the praises of the raw ingredients and, I guess over centuries, it’s a style of cooking that’s very comfortable in its own skin. It shows.

I didn’t really need to think about what I was ordering: dahl makhani, my favourite dahl dish ever was on the menu. One of those, a plain naan and a mango lassi and I could have been back in Bradford or Leeds. Mitran da Dhaba isn’t licensed (I’m not sure about BYO – if you’re that bothered, ring in advance on that point) but there was a selection of Indian drinks as well as water on the table.

The dahl makhani was very good: spicy, hot, tasty and creamy. It’s been a while since I’ve had Shabab‘s version but I’d say that this came very close and that Plympton is a lot handier than Leeds! The naan bread was also good, served with lashings of butter.

Andy ordered the malai kofta which I’m sure is a dish I’ve tried somewhere before and decided isn’t quite my thing. The kofta are potato based and they are served in a rich, creamy, nutty sauce. The sauce was redolent with cardamom and had a slight sweetness to it thanks to sultanas. This is not a dish I would ever eat (I have issues with sultanas in savoury food, to start with) and while Andy enjoyed it, he did say that he thought I’d won.

The portion sizes are not huge. I finished my dahl, lassi and naan and still felt able to move, which I think is a good thing. Too often with a curry the table groans with dishes and you end up rolling out of the restaurant feeling vaguely like you never want to see food again. However, I would say that if you arrive at Mitran da Dhaba absolutely famished, you should probably order a side dish.

But don’t worry – because ordering that side dish won’t break the bank. Our meal cost just $24.

That’s right: $24 for two people, for dinner.

My tip: don’t be put off by the fact the restaurant may be empty when you arrive, don’t worry about the TV (though it will compel you to gawp at it) and don’t be put off by the fact that Mitran da Dhaba isn’t licensed. Just dive in and try a few curries you don’t see on every menu.

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