The Chameleon. Lurking in the urban jungle, undetected, unknown, blending into the ever changing landscape, sampling everything from fine dining to reviewing take away joints, this lizard loves food possibly a little bit too much.

Highfields Tavern (lunch)

Overall score: 51/100

Highfields Tavern on Urbanspoon

Highfields. The ever-growing utopian suburbia spreading it's wings, the symbol of 'modern living' in the Toowoomba region, the epitome of high brow. But in the centre of all this modern residential growth lies a very un-modern and unassuming shopping center, anchored by Woolies, with the only noticeable dining seemingly belonging to Macdonald's and recently, the addition of a few take away joints hoping for flow on from the multinational. Across the road is a pub. The Highfields Tavern. No surprises there. What was a surprise it that it rated a mention on urbanspoon and hence The Chameleon slinked his way into the car park ready to quench his hunger (and thirst) at the attached bistro.     

As the Chameleon exited his car, the unfortunate experience of stepping onto broken glass initially curbed his enthusiasm for the experience that was about to follow. No doubt a lively evening before may have been the catalyst for this unpleasantry; surely a blower in the morning would have taken care of such annoyances to the daytime customers, but alas, beware with kids. 

Upon entering, Highfields Tavern appeared very much like any suburban tavern, with a welcoming pub and a vast eating area at the back. Having visited Crazy Galagher's in Wilsonton not long ago, it was easy to make comparisons to what is basically a very similar venue, with a very similar target market and, surprisingly  an almost identical menu. It dawned on The Chameleon that perhaps these establishments are  in fact linked, possibly even managed, by the same entity. He did notice that the pie ordered at Galagher's was on the menu here as well, so this time round, it was time to see if they can deliver on a decent 'lunch special'. 

In all honesty, Galagher's was way better; the kids area was ten times as good and the spread-out spacious nature of the large room left it with no atmosphere to speak of. A lonely television was playing a lackluster daytime TV drama from the 70s; not exactly augmenting the mood. None-the-less, it was what it was and, for a suburban bistro, satisfactorily acceptable.   

The food ordered was delivered very quickly. Almost too quickly. Freshness questioningly quick.

The Chameleon ordered the lunch steak (slightly cheaper than the standard steak), and he was also able to sample a steak sandwich and children's menu nuggets from within the group of lizards that the Chameleon was with on this occasion.    

Keeping in mind that The Chameleon is a food critic, sampling some very fine steak in the past, keeping in mind that this was a suburban bistro, AND, keeping in mind that this was a 'lunch steak', it was no surprise that it was barely on par with the steak he sampled at the atypical country pub that was the Pioneer Hotel. The mind boggles when you consider that, in Highfields of all places, the bistro plated up this very, very ordinary piece of flesh. It was overdone, above even the 'well-done' level. Let The Chameleon be clear, he loves well-done steak (charcoal-ed in fact is one of his favourites), he really does, but it is not his preference, and when a bistro goes to the unfulfillable effort of asking how you want it cooked, you expect medium-rare; it's like asking for a cappuccino with two sugars and getting a short black with no sugar. A message for virtually all bistros: please do not ask a customer how he/she/it wants his/her/its steak. You and The Chameleon know that it will be well-done every time. Not that there is anything wrong with well-done, but for the love of god, do not ask!

So, a less than satisfactory steak. The chips too, pub standard, uninspiring. However, there was a very surprising highlight on The Chameleon's plate! The salad dressing that was poured over a very fresh salad was brilliant. The Chameleon is not sure whether it was just the right amount, or whether it was some special in-house sauce or whether it was out of a No-Frills bottle, but whatever it was, it worked well. 

The Diane sauce, as it is in many places, was passable, but definitely not from scratch and did not differ from the atypical lackluster average offerings elsewhere.  

Upon sampling the steak sandwich, The Chameleon approved. It was of a nice consistency, the steak was soft, the overall package was in-fact moreish. The children's nuggets too were 'real' and cooked well. So the Highfields Tavern did some of the food well, but where it counted the most (on The Chameleon's plate), it fell quite short.

The Highfields Tavern had so much potential. New-ish establishment, plenty of space to do something interesting, plenty of time to get the meals right on this slow lunch afternoon. Yet the overall feeling when walking away reiterated to The Chameleon exactly what he was thinking when he saw that lunch time steak; we came, we ate, we will eat somewhere else next time. 51/100

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