Dining / Taking the high road with coffee

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HIGHROAD takes the high road with coffee, a practice inherited from its sister establishment, Ona Coffee.

Wendy Johnson
Wendy Johnson.

Coffee is “the thing” at both places and it’s no wonder. Ona is founded and directed by Sasa Sestic, World Barista Champion 2015.

A massive spot, Highroad occupies what was once Suburban. It’s had a makeover, favouring a much lighter, brighter take on life. There are windows, windows everywhere, warm wood interior design elements, different seating zones and types, and an overall comfy yet contemporary vibe.

It was lunchtime and hats off to Highroad for having two menus – a regular and one devoted to vegetarians and vegans. A kids’ menu is also on offer.

We were intrigued by a fair few dishes on the menu (available up until 2.30pm; then it’s bar snacks from 3pm; and then share plates and mains for dinner from 6pm).

Would we go for the 40-degree salmon? Veggie bowl? The amazing-sounding omelette? In the end I selected the chicken salad and my friend the beef burger.

The salad looked amazing and tasted amazing ($18) and was the perfect portion for lunch. It was packed – and I mean packed – with super healthy ingredients and I was chuffed with myself for ordering it. I visualised giving myself a gold star for achieving the food guide’s daily veggie requirement.

The dish was a wonderful mix of grilled chicken, broccolini, heirloom tomato, quinoa tabbouleh, pickled chickpeas (delish), sumac labneh, boiled egg, and corn and jalapeno salsa. Awesome flavours.

My friend’s beef patty was super moist with melted brie on top. Matters were tarted up with a tasty mustard aioli and pickled shiitake ($20). Did we mention the fab fries?

Chicken salad with broccolini, quinoa, tomato, and boiled egg.

Spying the very fancy dancy machines at the bar, we ordered coffees. Highgate takes its coffee very seriously, so seriously it’s not even funny. We made the mistake of ordering a cappuccino and immediately felt like we’d committed a crime. We were told (politely but firmly) that one cannot “taste the coffee” in a cappuccino. So we said to bring whatever Highroad recommended. I admire the chase for the perfect cup of coffee, but we were visiting over lunch and didn’t want to focus on becoming caffeine experts.

Highroad’s service was painfully slow at first, even though the place wasn’t fully occupied. Lots of staff were wandering about but not appearing to pay attention, at least to us. When our order was finally taken, things ramped up and it was service with a smile (apart from a little frown over the cappuccino incident). We had to flag someone down to get the bill.

Local and interstate craft beers are available and Highroad has pulled together an intriguing wine list.

Highroad, corner of Cape and Woolley Streets, Dickson. Call 6181 7799. Open seven days, starting from 7am weekdays and 8am weekends. Closing times vary (some days “late”).

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Wendy Johnson
Wendy Johnson: Food reviewer for Canberra CityNews magazine since 2004, covering stories for true foodies to digest.

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