Step from the cacophony of Clarke Quay into the even livelier Highlander and feel your senses go into overdrive trying to process everything at once. The proliferation of timber, stone, and other fierce paraphernalia – those imposing antler chandeliers might have you suddenly conjuring images of pipe-smoking and gun-toting swagger – can be a little overwhelming, but it’s all tempered by the boisterous sounds of laughter and tunes being belted out by the resident band or DJ.
Forget being intimidated and let the friendly staff in kilts – yes, kilts – ply you with over 250 selections of whiskies, beers, and international tipples, or provide recommendations with what’s good on the menu. The European fare is hearty, no mincing plates or artistic masterpieces here, and dishes like Pan-Seared Fresh Scallops, Fish & Chips, Braised Oxtail, and NZ Angus Steaks will be familiar to almost everybody. Of course, if you hit the bar running, then opt for bar nibbles like Popcorn Chicken and Crispy White Bait. Highlander’s vibe is comfortable and while you can technically watch the crowds go by outside, you’re more likely having too much fun yourself to care. (Jan 2016)