When? – 27/04/2012
Where? – The Park Hotel. 191 Nicholson St. Abbotsford
Price? - $20
Website? - http://www.theparkhotel.com.au/
Reviewers – Fridge, Kylie, Lee, Nikki, Pat, Shanan, Stefo
I fell bad for the patrons of the Park Hotel.
I feel bad because their little secret is out, and we have stumbled on to the best parma we have eaten to date.
Last week, not long after I posted the review of our attempt at the North Suburban Sports Club, our friends over at Pubstars hit me on Facebook with a recommendation -
I hadn’t put a lot of thought into where this weeks attempt would be at that stage, and as I was running late with getting the planning sorted I figured ‘what the hell, its worth a shot!’ So I made the booking, hopped aboard the parma bus and headed to Abbotsford.
Tucked away in the suburban backstreets, the Park Hotel is a downright gem. They boast a great selection of beers both on tap and in bottles, cosy fireplaces for the winter and an amazing beer garden for the summer (complete with outdoor pool table), and my personal favourite - a tabletop arcade machine in the corner.
We walked through the front bar where the friendly staff were having a laugh with the locals, past the cosy lounge room with fireplace and couch, and into the dining room - where the combination of exposed brick and bluestone walls just screamed local pub. If I lived anywhere near Abbotsford this place would be my local, hell I’d even consider moving just to be closer to this pub, simply gorgeous.
The menu was standard pub fare - fish & chips, wood fired pizzas, steak, meatballs etc. but the only thing that mattered to us was the parma - we placed the order and took our seats. While we waited for our chicken to arrive I noticed some of the other meals making their way out of the kitchen, which looked almost good enough to make me regret ordering the parma… almost. (the woodfired pizzas and steak in particular)
I went to the bar to get myself a drink and came back to this beauty waiting for me at the table.
My eyes welled up with tears as I saw the bacon sitting atop my parma, As it was listed nowhere on the menu board, the addition of bacon was a welcome surprise (regular readers will know my opinions on the awesomeness of bacon, and this is coming from a guy who once set out to make bacon flavoured beer… although the less said about that experiment, the better)
There was a little nude schnitz, but the chicken was of such grand quality that I didn’t care, the chicken breast was plump and juicy, perfectly cooked and crumbed - a pure delight before the toppings even came into play. The napoli was fresh, well seasoned and added a fantastic taste. The cheese, while not being in cheese overload, tasted fantastic and complimented the chicken thoroughly.
Then there was the bacon, well, not much can be said that hasn’t already been covered - perfect.
We weren’t in short supply for the sides either, a massive mound of chips waited for us underneath the parma (which was quickly rectified after the chicken arrived) cooked to perfection, well seasoned, and a great addition to the meal. Reviewer Nikki claimed that her chips weren’t seasoned when everyone else’s were, we tried them and it was true, but that was the only complaint - and the majority of the dishes served had perfect chips.
Oh, and I almost forgot the kicker - Moments after our parmas hit the table, a waitress came over with a tray of individual tomato sauce pots for chip-dippage. This is always a welcome touch, and they definitely received bonus points for the hospitality.
The salad, like the chips, was huge. a massive pile of lettuce, onion and cherry tomatoes splashed with balsamic. Simple, elegant and tasty.
Here’s what the others thought -
Overall The Park Hotel is an unassuming, relaxed little pub that doesn’t look like it would produce meals of the caliber that it does. The asian-themed decor of the dining room is a bit tacky (and confusing … why is it there?) but if you can look past that you will find the best example of a chicken parma we have found on our search so far. It’s down to earth, its delicious, and you can tell a lot of care has gone into its production.
It was a bit cold to check out the beer garden, but a quick wander through told me that this would be the perfect pub to chill out for a sunday afternoon session in the sun and enjoy a parma. Or any night of the week really. Or lunch … or morning. What are the rules on having a parma for breakfast?
Before the parmas arrived a few of the reviewers were discussing how hungry they were, and that one measly parma probably wouldn’t fill them up. After they finished they were singing a different tune all together - this parma doesn’t look overly big, but when combined with the massive mound of both chips and salad it becomes quite a formidable foe. Be sure to arrive hungry.
An amazing parma that simply has to be tried. I will be back, I hope you will too.