Thursday, June 23, 2011

Highway 31, Brunswick by Big Fil

Highway 31 sits fairly weirdly in a mainly middle-eastern eatery section of Sydney Road. With its American bar/diner theme and decorated with assorted motorcycles and car number plates, it's a touch of Baton Rouge in little Ankara.

When we visited on a Sunday night the music and lighting levels were both restrained, a bit of an issue for my poor little camera. A little ominously customer levels were also low - while we booked ahead there were only two other groups in a medium sized dining area. As everyone in our group was quite hungry we decided to order a couple of entrees to share. First up was the jambalaya. This is a rice dish including various meats and quite spicy, at least that's how it has been the two or three times I've had it before. I'd never previously seen it listed as a soup and it was certainly the moistest version I've come across. More like a thick rice broth than a soup, I can't comment on its authenticity but I did find it a bit restrained on the chicken, shrimps and bacon it was supposed to contain and the flavours quite bland.

Our second entrée was the Cajun poppers, fried prawn balls and squid rings served with an accompanying salad. Again I thought these were a little ordinary, not overdone as these things can be but lacking some of the spicy kick I rightly or wrongly associate with Cajun cooking.

But if the entrees were on the indifferent side they were redeemed by surprisingly good mains. My choice was the chilli con carne. While I think it came with a single chilli only, the serve was generous, the beef very tender and overall the dish rich, filling and very easy to eat. Real comfort style food and perfectly suited to the current cold snap.

Ironman went for the fish of the day, which turned out to be John Dory. Blacked with spice and lightly fried, it was firm, flavoursome and moist. Ironman also commented favourably on the salad served with the fish, which made it comparatively light compared to the army of chips he was expecting.

Ms Counting her Calories went for the chicken Creole. While fair I thought it was the weakest of the mains. When offered a taste I was expecting a fairly spicy dish. Instead I found it tasty but sweet, reminding me a little of chicken cacciatore.

Highway 31 also offers a small number of children's meals, such as Ms L's chicken nuggets and chips.

By this stage we were ready for dessert but too full for more than two between the four us. Pick of these was definitely the mud cake, rich, as dark as sin but surprisingly light in texture.

In contrast the deep dish pecan pie was similar in standard to the entrees, no disaster but a little lacking in texture which could have been given by the addition of more pieces of pecan.

We all enjoyed our visit to Highway 31. The food and prices were reasonable if not outstanding, service friendly without being pushy and the décor a little clichéd but not over the top. In particular I'd have liked a bit of a heavier hand with the seasoning on some of the dishes. But the sum of these elements was a night that was casual and fun. Its not somewhere for a special occasion or that I'd take a visitor to sample the best of what Melbourne has to offer, but for a local regular or to satisfy a hunger for diner style food it's a more than acceptable option.

Food - 7
Ambience - 7.5
Service - 7
Price - 6.5

743-745 Sydney Road
Brunswick VIC 3056
Tel: (03) 9386 3392

Highway 31 on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think "more than acceptable diner style" is the right description.

Iron Man

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