Where - Collins Square, Docklands.
Price - $23
Website - https://www.hightail.bar
Reviewers – Lee & Nikki
I had heard whispers of Hightail for a while now, never quite knew where exactly it was, but murmurs of a massive pub that lets you order drinks via iPhone app definitely caused my ears to prick up.
From memory, when they opened I checked if they did a parma and, at the time, they did not. Flash forward to last week when I discover the newly opened "Hightail Grill" within Hightail itself is serving up our favourite chicken-based delight, and I knew it was time to check it out.
As promised, Hightail is freaking huge. The website claims that it can seat 950 people, and I have no doubts that they can. Standing at one end of the pub you can't see the other side. Talking about it to a friend before we left they described it as "A food court where you can drink" - And I think that is the most apt description I have heard of the venue.
We grabbed a seat and checked the menu. The app (which I will talk about shortly) does not yet have the Hightail Grill menu loaded on to it for ordering, so we placed our orders at the bar.
As I mentioned, Hightail utilises the "100 Orders" app to allow patrons to order food and drink directly to their table (there is a Belles Hot Chicken, Bon Bon Boy and Mr. Burger on site that is listed on the app). I downloaded the app at the table and was greeted with a selection of Melbourne establishments that also use the app, such as Welcome to Thornbury.
Hold on, Last week's less than positive review of the Prince Alfred Hotel was also owned by the people that owned Welcome to Thornbury, and the app is called "100 Orders" while the pub group that owns it all is called "100 Burgers". The penny dropped. Hightail and The Prince Alfred are owned by the same people and I had no idea until we sat down at the table ... This is gonna be interesting!
The app itself is pretty cool. Food aside you can quickly and easily scroll through a list of all beers available, and with a few taps pay for your drinks, kick back and wait for them to be delivered to your table ... What a time to be alive.
The parmas hit the table surprisingly quickly after placing the order - I'd say about 10 minutes after sitting down with my beer our meals were in front of us. And they looked good! Great chicken coverage, a golden brown melt on the cheese. We grabbed our cutlery, tucked in, and our biggest criticism of the Hightail parma was immediately apparent - It was stone cold.
Now, I'm no physics professor, but I'd say the laws of thermodynamics stipulate that if a parma is cooked fresh and delivered to your table in under 10 minutes that, when factoring in prep time, there is no possible way that it can cool down from the temperature required to cook it to the temperature at which it was served to us, as I'm not exaggerating when I say this parma (and the chips) were barely luke-warm.
It was such a shame too as the chicken was thick and plump, pure white chicken breast. A little dry, but not horribly so. It had so much potential that was completely squandered due to it being served cold.
The toppings, honestly, had some fantastic flavours going on. The napoli was fresh and rich with strong notes of capsicum - A rare and unique flavour for napoli to carry. The cheese blend was also spot on - Perfectly melted with a strong bite, just how I like it. The ham was present but struggled to make itself known amongst the bold flavours of the cheese blend and spicy napoli sauce.
But it was all spoiled, as it was all cold.
The chips, like the parma, were also cold. I'm not huge on shoestring fries with a parma but there was a decent serving of them and they were relatively well seasoned. I can usually see past my prejudice for shoestring fries, but again ... they were stone cold.
The salad, the only element on a parma that you want to be cold was actually the best part of the dish. I'm not big on tomato so seeing it omitted from the usual lineup of ingredients was a welcome change for me. Plenty of cucumber, carrot and radish slices to fill it out and topped with a liberal dose of a tangy sweet dressing. Very enjoyable.
Hightail offers $16 parmas all day and night on Tuesday. For $16 I'd probably take the risk that what we experienced was an unfortunate blip in what could have been a great feed, but I won't be rushing back again to try it at full price.
I can only venture guesses as to what happened to our parmas at Hightail. Are they pre-prepping the meals and hoping we don't notice? Did someone cancel their order and they had these ones sitting around left over? The only thing I know is that there is no way our meals came directly from the grill to us, they arrived far too quickly for that to happen and arrive so cold.
If anyone from 100 Burgers is reading I promise we didn't do your pubs back to back on purpose and we don't have any sort of vendetta against your venues! The pub is great, worth a trip just to see a pub so impressively huge, and ordering drinks from your phone is an outstanding feature that I absolutely loved.
Such a shame too, as there are some fantastic flavours in this dish, had it been served hot this would have been an overwhelmingly positive review.