Highline Hits The High Notes at The Railway Hotel
By Jessica Williams – follow her Melbourne food adventures on Instagram: @jsallgoodthings (The World Loves Melbourne was invited to sample the Highline menu).
I think, to welcome the beginning of each new season, a degustation of seasonal treasures should be consumed. What better way is there to remind yourself of the magnificent fruit and vegetables a change in the weather provides? And what a brilliant excuse to go out for yet another meal.
Highline, the new restaurant above The Railway Hotel in Windsor is where I will be going for such seasonal splendor. The approachable, fine dining restaurant opened above the public bar in October 2014 after an extensive renovation, Young Chef of the Year Finalist (2014) Simon Tarlington joined the team as Head Chef, and as far as I am concerned, the rest, is history.
Highline features a modern Australian menu, with much of the produce sourced from The Railway Hotel’s own farm, Oak Valley, in the Strathbogie region of Victoria. The Paddock-to-plate philosophy at Highline is clear from the moment the menu is handed over: our fresh produce, delivered straight to you, with care. The menu takes the form of a wax-sealed envelope. I recommend leaving the decision making to the people in the know by choosing the degustation. I found the six-course experience truly impressive, and it negates any food envy that may arise from dining a la carte.
Our Summer degustation begins with a tasting plate of Farm House snacks; a dehydrated oyster with a rich, house made BBQ sauce, house-cured pieces of chorizo and salami, and matchsticks of pickled pumpkin and onions.
Next to arrive at our table was the Variation of Tomatoes, Fresh Curd, Olive; baby tomatoes, stuffed inside a bigger tomato with goats cheese. The saltiness and crunch from the olive and nut crumbs really completed the dish of classic flavours.
Even the bread is unique; served warm in its own hessian sack, releasing the irresistible, bakery aroma upon its opening. How can you resist?
Highline is far, far away from the conventional pub eatery. Native Australian flowers decorate the tables, the space is inviting, and the buzz of chatter from the pub’s second storey “Deck” is relaxing and not overwhelming. It would make for a great date venue. Beginning with a drink overlooking the city during Happy Hour, which runs from 5 – 9 each night, followed by the Highline degustation, which, if nothing else, can create many talking opportunities as each course surprises and delights.
The prawns in the Variety of Prawns, Selection of Beans entrée are sweet and fluffy; the entrée of Wallaby Slow Cooked and Cured with Rhubarb and Various Cucumber nails the balance of sweet, salty and sour; and the main meal “From the Sea”, comprising of squid noodles, various zucchinis and two pan fried fish fillets swimming in a spiced, buttery broth is delicate and refined.
The Oak Valley meats challenge those less accustomed to uncommon cuts, but all hesitation is forgotten upon the first mouthful. The Beef tongue from the “Cow” option is salty and soft, its accompanying mashed potato wrapped in leek is like eating a creamy, buttery cloud. The pepper berry sauce ties each element on the plate together like a dream.
“Sheep” with peas and a late harvest orange and thyme jam roughly resembles a healthy, if somewhat salty, farm; all green with dots of brown, which are the sausage like pieces of lamb wrapped in pastrami from the loin.
And then dessert. Entitled Milk and Honey, that’s exactly what it is. Milk and honey derived elements make up the dish: dehydrated milk skin crisps, a dense honey cake with syrup, plus small zings of honey jelly hiding between creamy layers of a whipped cream mousse. Take your waiter’s advice and use your spoon to dig through the fragments until each element sits upon your spoon. It’s like an explosion of poignant sweetness in a cold creamy snowstorm. An epic way to end such a brilliant meal.
I can’t wait to see what their Autumn Menu will behold!