In the many years of going to Mt Dandenong, it was only until about five years ago that I heard of Sky High in Mt D. Five years on, I've finally made it to SkyHigh. I suppose part of it is that I'm very much content in visiting Olinda and Sassafrass, and the occasional detour to the smaller toursity spots and village fairs up in the mountain meant that I was unlikely to have come across SkyHigh any time sooner.
For a celebration, the Lawyer and I headed up to the mountain to see what the fuss was about. We arrived in the late afternoon as the sun was setting. As it was freezing cold, we did a quick wander through some of the gardens and took as many photos of the vista that is Melbourne down below before the sun had set.
We had a dinner booking at 6pm. As it was freezing we asked the waiter if we could sit in the main dining area until dinner service started. The cow of a waiter said that we couldn't do that - at best we could sit outside in the partially covered cafe area. Points off for such lack of consideration and hospitality.
When we were finally let in, I scanned a critical eye over the restaurant. To set the scene, SkyHigh promotes itself as a romantic/special dining experience and also as a function centre (ie, weddings). Given that SkyHigh pretty much has monopolised the view of Melbourne, it has two paths it could follow. The first is to put out a lavish and luxe experience for diners/visitors and truly make it special. While the second option is to skimp on the costs because you know that there's no other venue nearby that can offer the same views of Melbourne from Mt D.
Unfortunately, SkyHigh goes for option 2 while trying to convince you that it's option 1. Where do I begin? Let's start with the furnishings. Hard plastic chairs - a big no-no for a place that's trying to sell a fine dining experience. The floor is polished cement. While this could be nice if done properly (in a modern warehouse contemporary look), I suspect that the floor once was timber or carpet, but they've just ripped it up and made do with what's underneath. The table cloth was thin and short. Menus that has obviously had something spilled on it, was wiped away, but now smells mouldy...tsk, tsk tsk.
After perusing the menu, we were served bread rolls. El cheapo bread rolls that were obviously bought from Woolies or Coles - you know those homebrand rolls that you can bake at home. Plastic, worthless bread.
For mains, the Lawyer opted for the pasta dish of the day. It was penne with chorizo, rocket and parmesan. The presentation was also a bit average. The Lawyer thought it was okay - not bad, but not great.
I went for the bacon-wrapped eye fillet steak with potato crockettes and brocollini and beans. This was surprisingly nice. The steak was nicely cooked, the bacon was flavoursome. The jus was rich, the greens were al dente, and the crockettes had a nice crisp crust and piping hot on the inside. It was quite a large serve and I got the Lawyer to help me finish the meal.
For desserts, we ordered to dishes to share. The first was our favourite and the best dish of the night. Hot doughnuts sprinkled with cinnamon sugar served with melted chilli chocolate, apple puree and double cream. The doughnuts were perfect bitefuls that went incredibly well with the gooey chocolate and apple puree. It was like eating a chocolate-coated apple pie. Delish!
The second was a chocolate mousse cake served with a berry coulis and double cream. This was pretty good - smooth chocolately layers and not overly sweet.
The quality of the food was mixed. While my steak and the two desserts were pretty good, the pasta dish and the dreadful bread rolls really let the experience down. It seems that'd they spring for the better quality ingredients for some things but skimp on everything else.
The service was average at best. I'm not sure if that's because they had a wedding reception on the night we went, and so all the resources were dedicated to that. The mains took some time to arrive.
A very mixed evening. Yes, the views at night is pretty, but given the patchy service, food and half-arsed interior design, I'd recommend that you go there for a drink and/or dessert but not for the full dining experience.
There is a $5 per car entrance fee into SkyHigh, but you get a complementary pass for the next time you come.
Food – 7 (I'd rate it lower if it weren't for the steak and desserts)
Ambience – 6.5
Service – 6
Price – 6
Sky High Mt Dandenong
26 Observatory Road
Mount Dandenong 3767
Telephone: 9751 0443