The Highway – Mushroom Month 2017

Mushrooms are so underappreciated. With so many different types, flavours and textures, they’re a versatile option that can be eaten at any time of day. The Highway has clearly recognised this, and impressed again with their July menu featuring – you guessed it – mushrooms.

Judging by his past performance and the current menu, Head Chef Elliot Hampton has a knack for balancing flavours and textures perfectly. I could not fault this menu.

The entrées were the Swiss Brown and Porcini Soup, and Oyster Mushroom, shemeji and foie gras terrine. The soup is exactly what I was hoping for – quite salty without being overpowering, and hearty and warm. The terrine was also tasty, and a great option for those who aren’t really into soup. The serving size is also quite good for an entrée – providing enough bites to be satisfied without wasting precious tummy space otherwise reserved for your main.

There were three mains available: Pan Fried Gnocchi, Brie stuffed Portobello Burger and 200g Truffle infused Beef Eye Fillet.

The gnocchi was wonderful – featuring burnt butter sage sauce, garlic field mushroom, king browns and crispy Enoki. The gnocchi was also surprisingly light and soft, but still chewy like traditional gnocchi. Chef Hampton said this texture was achieved by whipping the gnocchi rather than stretching it out. They then fried one side, almost burning it, for an amazing crunch on one side. It was nothing like any gnocchi I’ve ever had, and I loved it.

The burger is a great option for those who want to go on a safe mushroom adventure. Of course it was delicious (you can’t go wrong with a burger)! The Portobello ‘patty’ was well-made, not chewy like other patties that cause the burger to fall apart. My dining partner pointed out that the flavours were well thought-out and made sense; brie naturally has a mushroomy flavour that compliments the Portobello. The onion rings that accompanied the burger were also delicious – light, crispy and crunchy. They were very more-ish. Are they available as a side, all year round? They should be.

The Beef Eye Fillet was also fragrant and delicious. Accompanied by duxelles and taleggio cannelloni with a juniper glaze. Cannelloni seemed to be an interesting choice – pasta with red meat sounds so heavy. But it was surprisingly light, like a mini mushroom crepe that enhanced the meat, rather than taking away from it. The juniper glaze also ended up being sticky and almost barbeque-like, which of course complemented the meat perfectly.

To finish off, the dessert was Porcini, coffee and chocolate Parfait with chocolate soil and peanut praline. I am not a fan of coffee in desserts, and thought mushroom dessert sounded crazy. Surprisingly (maybe not surprisingly, I must trust Chef Hampton) the flavours were well balanced. The coffee flavour wasn’t too strong, and was complemented by the porcini. To top it off, everything tastes better with chocolate and praline, so overall, with the interesting mix of flavours and textures, the dessert was certainly a winner.

Mushrooms are a perfect choice for a July menu. They’re hearty and comforting dishes, without feeling heavy – perfect for winter warmers. I enjoyed every mouthful of this menu and my only gripe is that I didn’t eat more. I’ll be back for sure.

Words and Images by Olivia Henry

WHERE: 290 Anzac Highway, Plympton

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