The Highway Hotel has established a strong reputation in Adelaide, not only as a great suburban establishment in general, but specifically for its seasonal culinary repertoire. Normally around this time of year, game is the order of the day but this year chef Elliott Hampton and co decided on a different approach and focus on native Australian cuisine.
The Native Creative runs from the 16th of May until the 31st and is not only an ideal entry point for people dipping their toes into native cuisine, but simply an inspired and sharp menu.
The Moreton Bay bug tails were perfect: untouched with a sumptous buttery sauce. The salty karkalla tasting like a succulent coastal plant you may have picked off as a kid, while the sweet tart pickled riberries combined with the sauce spectacularly and the sweet white heirloom carrot grounded the dish. Hampton notes the pickled riberries were chosen because of their similarity to juniper berries.
The beautifully seasoned Robarra Barramundi was not only exquisitely soft, but truly taken to a whole other another level by the gloriously rich thyme butter and the citrus overtones of the lemon myrtle, which also linked in with the salty samphire.
The seared kangaroo was simply made to be paired with the savoury barilla leaves, while the puffed grains adding to the earthiness of the dish, in a delightfully unexpected manner. Hampton let slip that the kangaroo was rolled in a secret bush tomato sauce that he shouldn’t divulge. The beetroot brought a clean base to the dish while the semi-sweet muntries added a subdued sweet element. A nuanced and balanced dish.
The divine saltbush-fed Thornbury lamb was concentrated in flavour, and in fact, of the best preparations of the protein we’ve had. This blended magnificently with the creamed warrigul greens, which, believe us, improve on any spinach puree you’ve ever had. The potato crisps played off against the warrigul magnificently whilst the saltbush and lamb combination needs no explanation to any Aussie gourmand.
The Rosella Sorbet was a refreshing dessert with a unique floral fruit profile, creating a sophisticated point of interest. Hampton said he “couldn’t go past qandongs” when constructing the dessert and the pickly acid hit they bring really punctuated the dish. The wattleseed tuile brought some sweet savoury refinement with the violet sugar adding a sweet floral kick. Why more places don’t add violet sugar to desserts is something well worth exploring. A perfectly constructed dessert with a well executed herbaceous theme.
Hampton and The HWY have really pulled out a menu that is so well balanced and so well thought out, that irrespective if you’re looking for evidence that Australian produce really can enhance a menu, this is well worth booking in ahead for. With each dish intelligently thought out and native herbs specially picked to complement each main, the Native Creative is not only one of the best feeds this Autumn, but a genuine showcase of how to successfully implement local produce into cooking.
The HWY is located at 290 Anzac Hwy, Plympton.
Photography by Paul Deer.