Friday, 23 January 2015


A few days ago, myself and my sister Stephanie were invited to dine at The Railway Hotel's restaurant Highline in Windsor. Following an extensive renovation, the Highline has already been awarded a Chef's Hat by Australian Good Food & Travel Guide for 2015 after only being open for 3 months! I can see why - not only is the food delicious, the staff are super friendly and helpful and the service is great!

While the interior of the Highline is formal, the music that filled the space included classics such as, The Temptations - My Girl and Stevie Wonder - Higher Ground, made it a very warm and unique space that highlights the restaurants concept of 'farm gate to plate'. The menu, designed by Chef Simon Tarlington, showcases the best seasonal Australian produce sourced from specialty growers and the Hotel's private farm Oak Valley, about 140km's from Melbourne. The modern Australian cuisine was full of unique fresh flavours that compliment each other perfectly. The distinctive style of Tarlington, a 2014  Young Chef of the Year Finalist, is showcased throughout the menu, which offers something for everyone.

While the restaurant is considered a newcomer in the Melbourne foodie scene, I have already placed it high in my books. And of course, while any restaurant with cool music gets the ok in my books, it is the flavoursome food and exceptional service that will keep bringing me back.

The first two dishes were homemade artisan bread and farm snacks (smoked pork loin with summer fruit, oyster kilpatrick, home-made bressola, beef pate with piccalilli and poached onion with pickled pumpkin and chorizo crumb). Our favourite part of this dish was the eccentric take on oyster kilpatrick, where the bacon lay below the sauce and dehydrated oyster, allowing the flavours to perfectly compliment one another. Already, we knew we were preparing for a wonderful onslaught of meals.

Not only is the food delicious, but it is also beautifully presented. The variations of tomatoes, fresh curd and olive (dried vine ripe tomatoes stuffed with fresh curd and olive puree, olive and nut crumb finished with strawberry oil) was light and fresh, and was the perfect accompaniment to the subsequent flavoursome meals.

Following this dish, we had (my favourite) salt poached chicken, savoury granola, sweet and sour plum. You read that right, chicken and granola - who would have thought these two would make the perfect entrèe?! I was amazed at how well everything worked so well together. And in addition of the poached and glazed native plum, the dish was perfectly sweetened. 

And now the main meals begin to roll in. Firstly, we had 'From the sea, various zucchinis, noodles, spiced fish broth' (John dory pan fried, seasonal zucchinis, spiced fish broth, squid noodles). Once again, the textures and flavours complimented each other really well and formed a creamy, buttery, not-too-fishy meal that was cooked to perfection. And while my guest is not exactly a fish enthusiast, she thoroughly enjoyed the meal! 

Secondly, we had 'Oak Valley lamb, peas, late harvest orange and thyme jam'. Despite my dislike for sausages, this dish was bursting with flavour. It had a bit of a spice to it, however, it was complimented by the fresh peas and orange and thyme jam. While you may be thinking these flavours are crazily combined, think again. I don't know how Tarlington does it, but the flavour incorporated within the dishes are mind-blowingly good. Actually, amazing. 

Next up, I had the 'Oak Valley pork, pig's nose to tail, smoked bacon broth, last season's celery', whereas by guest had the 'Oak Valley beef, earthy vegetables, native pepper berry sauce'. The smoky pork was absolutely delicious and perfectly cooked. My guest also loved her meal, particularly the beef brisket, that was complimented by smoked potato wrapped in leek, beer braised onions, baby turnips and pepper berries in stock. This may sound kinda weird, but you know those Shape commercials with the flavours cheerfully dancing around, well, that is exactly what is happening on every plate served at the Railway. 

Now, dessert. Yes, I know. How did we fit it in? Well with food as delicious as this, you just gotta do what you gotta do. My guest and myself had two different desserts, so of course, we shared. Starting with the 'Choc-berry obsession' (Australian chocolate from daintree rainforest, chocolate mousse, berry jelly, choc crumb, blueberries, blackberries, pulled chocolate). I do not even know how to describe the chocolate mousse - rich, creamy, frothy, like a cloud, floating in heaven - perfectly complimented with fresh blueberries and blackberries and berry jelly. Definitely a must-try Melbourne dessert. Oh, and while I thought the chocolate mousse was like heaven, the 'Milk & honey' (milk mousse, milk biscuits, milk skins, honey milk skins, honey cake, honey jelly, bee pollen, honeycomb) IS heaven. If you're looking for a light dessert, this is the perfect choice. Both desserts made for a perfectly polished finish.

If you dine here, you're always going to look forward to beautifully presented dishes, filled with fresh flavours, made with seasonal produce, made by sustainable practices, in a sophisticated space.

Find The Railway Windsor here.

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