Grill’d, Highpoint Shopping Centre. Phone: 9317 7455
Hey, a boy only turns 10 once, so Bennie got his wish of lunch at Grill’d followed by a movie with his mates Daniel and Tah, even if his mum and dad might have preferred yum cha.
I have vivid recall of our early days at Highpoint – just after we moved west, when Bennie was a somewhat fractious baby/toddler.
Those were my first experiences with the whole shopping mall gig, and the experience quite often made me profoundly batty, not to mention cranky and cantankerous.
The music, the lighting, the crap shops, the round and round – ugh!
We don’t share the outright hostility of some of our friends towards Highpoint, but we do keep visits to a minimum.
Moreover, we’ve refined our Highpoint technique to hit-and-run – we effortlessly filter out the stuff we don’t want or need; we know where to get a Medicare rebate, a cheap pair of shoes, a football or footy boots.
If the noise and piped music no longer sends me batty, it’s not because I’m a benumbed shopping zombie – more like I’m able to focus on our immediate task and ignore the rest to emerge unscathed, emotionally, spiritually and financially.
Food is another matter, of course, and on that score Highpoint is pretty much irredeemably awful.
Plum adjoins, but it’s never really hit the spot with us.
The food court at the southern end has a Laksa King – whether it’s any relation to the Flemington establishment, I know not. It does a passable Malaysian job, but like everything else surrounding, it is to be avoided if only because of the obscene wastefulness of the disposable plastic cutlery and bowls/plates.
The food court adjacent the Hoyts cinemas boasts a China Bar – again, whether it has connections with the identically named places around the city, I know not. Here you’ll get real cutlery and crockery and – in our experience – meals of a certain dullness. Scattered around are a faux 50s/60s diner at which our only experience was dismal and Nando’s, La Porchetta and Pancake Parlour outlets.
Based on a number of visits, though, Grill’d is the top pick.
As with previous meals here, the kids loved every bite and slurp, while the adults were once again astonished that such tasty, crunchy, fresh and real food was available from a franchise set-up in a shopping mall.
Our order was four basic burgers with bacon for the boys, likewise with beetroot for mum, soft drinks all round, two serves of chips with two serves of garlic mayo and five discount movie vouchers.
The chips were really, really good – ungreasy, beautifully seasoned with salt, perfumed with rosemary, simply superb.
The burgers were just about as good – bacon that added real flavour, beef patties with nicely chewy texture, sandwiches just right for a two-handed feast. Best of all, and in some ways disconcerting for being so unexpected, was salad greenery that provided tangible crunch.
The price four our meal and movies was – gulp! – $127.
But thinking it through, I realised this was quite reasonable – say $15 per head for the food and $10 for the movie, or even vice versa.
Not a screaming bargain, then, but not a ripoff either.
I’ve been asked a few times why we would even think of visiting Highpoint when we live a five-minute walk from Yarraville’s Sun Theatre – and a pretty good hamburger joint along the lines of Grill’d.
Well, the truth is that the Highpoint Hoyts/Grill’d combo provides precisely the sort of movie experience craved by kids – particularly a trio of stroppy 10-year-olds.
With time to spare, the boys headed to the whizzbangflash games arcade, each clutching a handful of gold coins, to expend some of their nervous energy and delight in each other’s company.
The movie? Gnomeo And Juliet was an OK animated feature, but the post-flick verdict was that it was a bit too girly for the four boys.
The Grill’d website is here.