The secret door covered in graffiti that could easily be mistaken for the delivery entrance to the bottle-o attached, in fact, leads up the stairs and into one of Melbourne’s best fine dining restaurants – Highline. Here a young chef named Simon Tarlington is taking each and every person on a journey from Paddock to Plate using fresh produce from the owner’s farm with the menu changing seasonally.
Simon believes in the philosophy head to tail dining – using every part of the animal, you can see his philosophy used throughout the whole menu.
The decor is dimly lit, black and white themed incorporating the farmland all around using bits of tree lumps on the table, pine cones and native flowers decorate the bar.
To start and with no knowledge from us, we’re brought out the chef’s version of Vegemite and Cheese scrolls. A lunchbox favourite here in Australia, although these rolls were a little fancier than the ones you’d find rolling around in a Child’s lunch box.
Perfectly flaky puff pastry, just a smear of Vegemite to add that salty touch and cheese that melted like butter over the top. A wonderful bite to start the night.
After the Vegemite scroll, a plate of freshly baked bread accompanied by olive oil that the restaurant gets freshly pressed for them. The first 30% of the pressing is kept, giving the olive oil a real fruity and slightly spicy taste.
The entree was the Moreton Bay Bug Cooked in Paperbark, Celery, Elderberries.
The bug was cooked and then chilled, cooking it in the paperbark gave the whole dish a smoky flavour. Fresh celery leaves were used to dress the dish giving it a slight bitterness, paired with the fruity pop of elderberries and salty miso jelly the whole dish was well balanced and fresh.
It was a very hard choice to choose just one main, in the end, I decided to order the Baby Snapper, Pork Noodles, Ham and Preserved Tomato because my curiosity got the better of me and I had to know what exactly pork noodles were.
Served with a rich meaty ham stock, confit tomato that cuts through the richness and baby snapper that was cooked tender. As it turns out, the pork noodles were made out of pork blood something I was not expecting yet extremely intrigued about. The blood taste was non-existent, instead, they tasted like normal noodles, chewy with a slightly dark red colouring through them.
The other main was Native spiced Oak Valley Lamb, Mussels, Burnt Vegetables and Carrot Butter. The lamb was cooked brilliantly, perfectly charred on the outside and still pink and juicy on the inside. Covered in a native bush spice that added an extra layer of flavour. Served with burnt vegetable leaves, the chef’s philosophy shining here, showing nothing is to be wasted.
Our time at the farm was coming to an end, though not before we had dessert.
Milk and Honey won Melbourne’s best dessert 2016 and for good reason. What looks like snow covering the top is actually dehydrated milk skin crisp, some infused with honey and some left plain. Once you crack through the top you’re met with a soft mousse that tastes like sweetened chilled milk, honey cake and jelly.
I also ordered Daintree Chocolate and Cherry, because chocolate makes everything better. A rich dark chocolate mousse encased in a chocolate shell with a tart cherry sorbet. A sinfully rich and tart dessert.
To end the night we were brought our final surprise; campfire marshmallows – a pine cone lit on fire using Bundaberg rum served with Daintree Chocolate marshmallows to roast. The whole theatrical aspect and smell made me think I was sitting around a fire, outdoors on a farm. A truly amazing way to end the night. You’ll have to watch the video to see that one!
Highline is an amazing dining experience that keeps you guessing, amazed and takes you on a journey of farm to plate.