Eye contact as a sales device



Unlike Highpoint, the entire length of the shopping centre at Airport West is chockers with businesses in the aisles or walkways between with the more formal businesses with their own premises.

Some of these seem permanent and of regular business nature, such as the ones promoting health or IT services, or wanting to buy whatever gold people have lying around their homes.

Others are selling the likes of cheap toys or calendars or mobile cases or haircare products.

But there’s heaps more spruiking gimmicky stuff and seemingly as many selling raffle tickets for charity.

In regards to the latter, I am skeptical – like everyone else, I’ve read the stories about how little of the money raised so-called charity enterprises actually ends up with the stated recipients.

I’m for sure not someone cut out for this kind of public sales pitching.

So in some ways I have sympathy for those taking on this kind of work.

Backpackers looking to extend their travels or battlers looking for a break – where’s the harm?

But in other ways I find myself resenting some of the tactics used.

Particularly when it comes to taking advantage of the profoundly human and instinctive reaction to engage with anyone who makes determined eye contact or makes an effort to start a conversation.

I find such ploys hard to resist,

Maybe in the tedium of such work, any engagement is to be desired – and bugger the sale and the commissions.

This week, in his desperation to get some action going, one of these sales people even made comment on my moustache.

This is far from uncommon, but still it usually emanates from people not working – as far as I know – on getting me to open my wallet.

High points at Highpoint



Fish Pier, Highpoint Shopping Centre. Phone: 9318 8277

Cupcake Central. Highpoint Shopping Centre. Phone: 9077 4542

Despite the fact we found the array of outlets and services available in Highpoint’s new food court a bit of a mixed bag, we have been enjoying our visits there.

The more recently opened fashion precinct adds a touch of undeniable class, even if the many shops therein are unlikely to ever see any of our money.

In the food section itself, we’ve bought meat and boreks from the rather classy butcher.

And if other chores and purposes take us to Highpoint, we’re more than happy to do our dinner shopping – and even a stock-up shop – at the very well stocked fresh produce store.

My one serious reservation about the new food area has been the lack of interesting places to eat.

There’s now an Italian-style panini/focaccia/sandwich place that looks like it may be worth checking out, although the salads on display look rather shopping-centre dreary.

In this setting, Fish Pier is also well stocked with fresh seafood.

It’s a pity, perhaps, that the place’s eat-in assortment is tucked around on the side, as on the basis of my lunch it’s well worth considering.


At $10 or thereabouts, my fish and chips would be a perfectly OK lunch; at the special promotional price of $5 it’s an outright bargain.

The chips are fresh and hot but only average.

The flathead fillet is much better – a winner!

The panko-crumbed calamari rings ($1 each) are not freshly fried for me and are thus a bit tired on it, a bit soggy and chewy.

I could do without the salad bits and pieces.


Like Fish Pier, Cupcake Central is part of a chain.

But forget about that; forget, too, the shopping centre location.

This is a stylish cafe space I’d be happy to spend time in just about anywhere.

Especially as my $3.30 cafe latte is outstanding.

My salted caramel cupcake ($4) is about 30 seconds of sticky decadence, although I do end up scraping off about half of the creamy, cloying topping.

All sorts of other sweeties, especially of the Italian variety, are always going to have bigger place in my heart than cupcakes, but this is a top spot.

See earlier stories about Highpoint here and here.





Salsa’s Fresh Mex Grill



Salsa’s Fresh Mex Grill, Highpoint, 120-200 Rosamond Rd, Maribyrnong. Phone: 9317 4623

After expressing our somewhat surprising – to us – affection for the works of Guzman y Gomez, a friend suggested we check out Salsa’s, housed in the very same shopping centre.

So I did.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to resist making a direct comparison between the two fast-food Tex-Mex outlets.

For starters, while Guzman y Gomez is set up in such way as to at least make a handy grab at sustaining its own vaguely groovy ambiance, Salasa’s has no such luck.

It’s situated right out there, just another outlet in a giant, circular shopping centre food court of little or no soul.

As well, the menus of the two places are remarkably alike.


Corn chips and guacamole ($4.50) are OK.

The corn chips may be crisp, but they are about as bland as corn chips can get – one extreme of corn chippery, with the toxic likes of Doritos at the other.

The guacamole is of the smooth, blended variety with some texture from red onion and a little tomato.

But it’s not as swell as the chunky stuff at Guzman y Gomez.


My original beef burrito ($8.95) is a stodgy disappointment.

My fault – the use of the phrase “Texas beef” should have alerted me to the use of ground meat; I should have opted for a burrito that had real meat and black beans.

As it is, my burrito is very heavy on the rice with no discernible cheese element. I can see some fresh stuff like tomato and onion but can’t taste or feel it.

The “Texas beef” is OK – a bit like a cross between chilli con carne and bolognese – but just seems a little weird in a heavy-going burrito that goes unfinished.



Guzman Y Gomez Mexican Taqueria

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Guzman Y Gomez Mexican Taqueria, Highpoint, Maribyrnong. Phone: 9988 1401

We attended the opening night of Guzman Y Gomez at Highpoint to take advantage of and really enjoy the free burritos.

We’ve been back several times since.

But this unusual – for us – Sunday dinner trip feels a little different.

We’ve been unable to decide between his preferences – spicy Asian or Indo-Chinese in Footscray – and my own for something a little less familiar, further afield and/or blog-worthy.

We pull over for a quick tactical discussion and then we’re happily off to Highpoint.

And we’re not going because other chores have taken us to Highpoint.

Nor is it about Bennie’s dad giving his son an always desired fast-food experience.

No, we’re headed this way because we really, truly do enjoy the food here.

This seems something of a revelation – who would’ve thunk it?


The guacamole (plastic tub) and corn chips (paper bag) cost $5 and are super.

It seems a little surreal to be eating something as fresh and tasty as this gorgeous, chunky guacamole amid such a typically fast-food ambiance.

The corn chips have changed and no longer have such a distinctive thickness or texture. These are still good and crunchy, though. They appear to be unsalted – but we prefer that over too much salt.

And we love them not only dipped in the avocado dip but also in the zippy, smoky, complementary chipotle Tabasco (plastic tub).


Bennie gobbles up his beef quesadilas ($8.50, cardboard tray) with gusto and relish.

They appear to be a bit skimpy on substance to me, though.

Especially when compared to the house burritos.

Indeed, so good and hefty are these that I have long since abandoned the full-size models for the “mini” version.


My “mini” pork chipotle burrito ($6.90, cardboard tray) is fantastic.

The pork is tender and not so spicy, while the rice and black beans are in just the right proportions.

And as with the avocado, so it is with the cheese in my burrito – who ever heard of eating cheese in a fast-food joint that has really good, significant flavour of, um , cheese?

We treat ourselves to a couple of Jarritos – Mexican cola for him, guava for him. And even these seem a pretty fair deal at $4 each in light of the amounts charged at franchise joints for regulation non-fancy soft drinks.

We reckon Guzman Y Gomez is superior to a similar operation at Southern Cross station and another that has been hitting the west lately.


It’s disgusting


Dear Highpoint,

We don’t have much reason to visit your shopping centre, especially now that Borders is no more.

However, today I was up there to get a Medicare rebate, and to save myself another stop on the way home I had lunch in the food court.

Not bad, actually. Well, passable anyway. Noodles, beef curry, five-spice calamari for under $10.

Like the many other hundreds of hungry shoppers, I ate using plastic, disposable cutlery from a plastic, disposable plate.

The more I thought about it, the more depressed I became.

Depressed thinking about the no-doubt thousands of meals served at your two food courts every day. Seven days a week. Year after year after year.

I have no objection to your establishment being a high altar of consumerism. I can and do go there myself.

But the disposable plastic ware that comes with your food delivery is a waste of epic proportions.

Frankly, it’s disgusting.

And even if it is all legal and proper, truth is it is morally wrong.

Is there not a better way?

Can your management, parent company, whoever not think of the bigger picture and be a better community citizen?

Whatever pain, financial or otherwise, that is endured while fixing this ridiculous situation will – in the end – more than repay itself in terms of goodwill and the ability to say: “It was hard – but we did the right thing.”

Cheers, Kenny Weir, Consider The Sauce