You may remember some of our Glam posts from last month mentioning ‘Mushroom Month’ at the Highway. Although we loved the innovative and downright delicious dishes throughout July, the chosen menu brings something a little more special to the table for the month of August.
The inaugural ‘Hot August Nights’ menu theme is Chilli For Charity. The team at The Highway have joined forces with the dedicated organisation, the Hutt St Centre, to create a menu that warms you inside and out. The chilli cocktails and dishes that are to be served throughout the month are not only delicious, but $1 from each meal purchased from the menu will be donated to the Hutt St Centre to raise money for Adelaide’s homeless who are really feeling the cold this season. On Tuesday Glam swung by the Highway to try out the new and charitable creations from chefs Elliot Hampton and Jack Bird.
For those that see The Highway as your Saturday night/Sunday session kind of venue, filled with a crowd who need a schnitzel to either help them hold down their alcohol or survive their impending hangover, let us tell you, those days are gone. Ok, they aren’t completely gone. After all, we’ve all been victim of a hangover only a parmy could fix once or twice in our lives. But The Highway has certainly created a more refined pub experience in the suburbs, and a premium gastronomic experience in their sophisticated bistro dining area.
Myself and a few other foodies were toasty next to the fire as we were brought a mug of Hot Buttered Rum from the Hot August Nights cocktail menu. I may be a little on the biased side here, as I am a passionate rum lover, but it was like a toasty mug of cocktail heaven. Even some of the other diners, who were initially sceptical, drank every last drop. We were also lucky enough to taste the ‘Sweet Caroline’ cocktail. Aptly named after Neil Diamond’s hit from his (you guessed it) Hot August Nights album, the cocktail was sweet and refreshing with raspberry vodka, blood orange liqueur, mango and mint sprigs. And of course, it had us all muttering the iconic tune, after a few more I imagine it could’ve turned into quite the karaoke session.
Now to the food! The two entree dishes on the Chilli for Charity menu were on completely different ends of the scale in approach to style. The beef, bean and chilli soup was hearty and smoky. If you washed it down with a cracking glass of shiraz, next to The Highway’s bistro fire you’d have everything you need for a cosy winters evening.
Now, at the other end of that scale was the Chilli Octopus served with housemade black garlic paste, potato foam, almonds and a poached egg. This dish was light and vibrant in flavour. Again we were dubious as a seafood and egg combination seems a bit left of centre, but we were delighted by the excellent blend of flavours and textures in this entree.
Up next were the Szechuan Pepper Braised Pork Ribs served with spicy coleslaw and fries. Although this dish looks simple, the taste is incredible and shows a different approach to chilli. The ribs are slow cooked in a master stock which is later reduced down and dripped over the ribs with an Okonomi (sticky sweet Japanese) sauce. The real beauty in this dish lies in the salt dusted over the top. Again, what seems like a simple element has a creative process, blending the salt with szechuan peppers and then smoking the blend adds a fizz like sensation while you’re eating the ribs. A carefully thought out component that adds a real point of difference to a simple yet delicious meal.
The Korean Chilli Rubbed Chicken served with sauteed greens and a sherry caramel was that perfect blend of sweet and spicy. I tend to steer away from ordering chicken in restaurants as it can often be underwhelming, but the combination of dry rub, sous vide and pan frying left us with a flavoursome and incredibly juicy dish. The group agreed it definitely ‘tasted like a happy chicken.’
Finally the Burning Beef Burger. This one was always going to be judged heavily as our table boasted some serious burger aficionados. They kept the ingredients simple with a spiced beef patty, jalapenos, cheese, lettuce and chipotle aioli on a brioche bun. And the verdict? An all round success. The hero here was really the patty and we weren’t swarmed with sauce or millions of ingredients falling out everywhere. The brioche bun, which can often turn to mush and leave you with juices dripping down your elbows, held together perfectly and added a touch of sweetness. This was definitely the spiciest dish we tasted on the evening but we were told that this is the dish that can be really spiced up if that’s what you prefer. The kitchen is armed with ghost chilli sauces that reach up to a 40 out of ten on the chilli scale. Ay caramba!
Just when we thought we couldn’t possibly consume another morsel, out came the Chilli Chocolate Fondant dessert. This was my favourite dish for the night by far. The fondant was oozy and cooked to perfection and the flavour combination of chilli and chocolate was sexy and elegant. Cut through with chilli roasted almonds and house made vanilla bean ice cream, it was the perfect way to end a divine meal.
The beauty of the Chilli for Charity menu, other than the obvious helping those in need, is that the menu is approachable for all levels of chilli lovers. If, like me, you struggle when things really heat up, that doesn’t mean you won’t love this menu. The chefs have been very careful to create the right level of heat for each dish, which can easily be turned up at the eater’s request. We even chatted with Sous Chef Elliot, who has worked under the likes of celebrity chef George Calombaris, about the creative process and he told us he’s not actually a chilli lover! For that reason the chefs worked attentively to ensure a menu that would suit all diners, not just those who love the taste of fire.
We highly recommend swinging by The Highway this month and indulging in a charitable and tasty meal. From the well thought out menu to the well thought out cause, we’re sure you’ll love the Chilli for Charity experience.
There are also cute rugs, scarves and beanies hand knitted by the Hutt St Centre team available to use and take home for a donation to the Hutt St Centre.
To find out more about what’s going on at The Highway click here.
To learn more about the Hutt St Centre and their charitable work click here.
Photography by McFuzzlebutt’s Manchen