We all love a good feed, a good frothie, and a good dance down at The Highway Hotel. When the wintery seasons come around we know they're getting ready for their annual innovative menus, and this year was off to a flying start. Their Native Creative menu has gone bush, by showcasing some fantastic Australian produce with modern twists!
With flavours and ingredients inspired by fundamental foods of the Indigenous Australian community, the menu offers a creative selection of five dishes that'll take you on a gastronomic journey. All produce has been sourced by The Highway's Head Chef Elliot Hampton, from local SA Companies, My Butcher, International Oyster and Seafood, and AMJ Produce. Some of the ingredients may have you jumping to a Google search, but the taste will have you wondering why these flavours aren't used more often!
We were lucky enough to sample all dishes on the menu; we began with Moreton Bay Bug Tails with Pickled Riberry, White Carrot and Karkalla. This dish is beautifully presented with 3 perfectly cooked bug tails that were lightly seasoned, with tender white carrot and tasty karkalla (the green shoots - they taste like bean sprouts) and pickled riberry... which is like a small, unsweetened sultana. This dish was well put together and a lovely entree for a seafood lover!
Our next sample was the Seared Paroo Kangaroo Fillet with Muntries, Beetroot, Barilla Leaves and Puffed Grains. The kangaroo was beautifully done at medium rare, surrounded by fresh beetroot, salty barilla leaves, puffed grains – that tasted like thick popcorn – and muntries (native cranberries). This was a wonderful entree if you feel like a taste of going bush!
We then had the Robarra Baby Barramundi, baked on Native Ficinia Nodosa Rushes with Lemon Myrtle, Samphire, and Native Thyme Butter. Long name and a hell of a long fish! It was cooked how you'd want barra to be cooked; soft, flavoursome and tender. You can definitely taste the smokey flavour thanks to the cooking process, paired with the yummiest of butters and some potatoes for good measure – this fish dish is delish!
We moved on to my favourite dish of the evening... a sample of the 500g Thornby Lamb Rump with Creamed Warrigal Greens, Saltbush and Potato Crisp Salad. Cooked to medium rare perfection with a soft inside and crisp outside, for someone that doesn't eat lamb (even for a Greek), I'm converted! You'll be eating this dish with your eyes too, it's so well presented. Along with lovely creamed greens and lamb jus, the saltbush and potato crisps give another level of texture, needed for something as rich as lamb. A very well executed dish indeed!
Finally, our dessert – and it was the perfect way to finish off such rich, flavoursome dishes. Rosella Sorbet with Poached Quandong, Wattle Seed Tuile and Violet Sugar, yum yum yuuuuum. The sorbet was completely fragrant and palette-cleansing, while the violet sugar enhanced the floral flavours of the dish. The poached quandong was just the right texture and just sweet enough (they're like tiny apricots), while the wattle seed tuile provided the crunch and cleanliness that's needed to tie in the dish. A lovely marriage of floral and sweetness with all the textures ticked off!
Overall it was a perfect execution of Native Australian ingredients celebrated on an innovative, exciting menu that I hope patrons will explore beyond their usual pub grub. Hats off to Head Chef Elliot for showcasing these wonderful ingredients that myself and many others would have never even heard of. The Highway Hotel's Native Creative menu will be available until May 30 in the Highway’s Bistro and Lounge Bar, get in before it's over!
Images via Alexia Frangos.