Attempt #45 - 'James Squire Hotel'



When? - 30th of March, 2011

Where? - James Squire Brewhouse. 16-17, 439 Docklands Drive, Waterfront City, Docklands.

Price? - $24 for standard (or ‘charlotte’) parma, novelty extra - see review for details

Barry? - No

Website? -

Reviewers - Cale, Donna, Janet, Lee, Ness, Nikki, Stefo[/info]


Oh James Squire Hotel … I tried so hard to like your parma, I really did. but. I just can’t … Look, I’ll start at the beginning.

So, I’ve mentioned it before, but since starting this little website we get a lot of recommendations for ‘the best’ parma, via email, twitter, carrier pigeon and just word of mouth. While out at the local watering hole last Friday one of my mates (Reviewer Fridge, who’s real name is James Ford, just like Sawyer on Lost) suggested that we try the James Squire hotel on the docklands. This tickled my fancy-bone as we had been looking for a pub on the docklands for awhile now, and this seemed like just the ticket.

So we loaded up the parma bus and headed to the Docklands. Under the shadow of the half deconstructed southern star ferris wheel we found the James Squire Hotel, and at first glance I was impressed! Perfect waterfront location, beautiful establishment, gorgeous big comfy chairs and an amazing range of beers (A little James Squire heavy, but thats to be expected at the James Squire Hotel!)

Once the team arrived we took our seats and picked up the menu, rather than re-type it all here, I took a screenshot of the menu that is posted on their website

Quite a selection! I also love the idea of matching different parmas to different beers, great idea James Squire! however one thing that did strike me as a little off was the price - these were the most expensive parmas we have had, and the most normal parma on the list (the Charlotte) chimed in at $24! and thats without ham! these had better be the best darn parmas ever. After much deliberation we ordered, I decided on the ‘Banker’, not because of the avocado, but it was the only parma on the list with ham, the lineup looked like this

  • Myself & Ness - Banker
  • Nikki & Donna - Charlotte
  • Cale & Stefo - Farmer
  • Janet - Theif (‘Theif’ is right! $29 for a freakin parma!?)

We placed our orders and awaited our parmas arrival, while waiting I got myself a ‘tasting paddle’ from the bar, a fantastic idea and great way to sample all of the beers James Squire has on offer


By the time I was 2 glasses down the paddle, our parmas arrived

My ‘Banker’

Cale’s ‘Farmer’

On first glance they looked amazing, an aesthetically beautiful parma. But hold on … where’s the salad? there was no salad anywhere to be found on the plate and for that price I would expect a salad (and the avocado slices don’t count!), we re-checked the menu and found this under the parma section …

EIGHT DOLLARS?!… I’m sorry to shout like that, I really am, but EIGHT DOLLARS?!?! for a side salad with my parma?! what the hell! also, how the hell are pan fried mushrooms seven dollars fifty. I’m not a tightarse by any means, but we have had parma attempts at which the entire meal has cost less than what the James Squire is charging for a side salad.

But I digress…

Other than the lack of salad, the parma actually looked pretty impressive, the herbed, home made crumbs looked amazing, great cheese coverage and they weren’t skimpy on the novelty topping, and for the first couple of mouthfulls it tasted great also, but there was one major issue - the schnitzel was at least 50% crumbs! Granted, the crumbs were delicious, but I would like some chicken with my chicken parmigiana! I kept hoping it would thicken up toward the middle as many parmas do, and it did, but only very slightly, by the end of the parma the crumbs that were a delight at the start of the meal were totally overpowering everything else on the plate. Cut back on the crumbs and thicken up the chicken guys! We have had worse parmas in the past, but for over $25 we expected more.

The chips, much like the parma, looked amazing when they arrived, massive chunky steak style chips that bordered more on sliced up roast potatoes than chips, unfortunately lack of seasoning and the sheer size of them left them a little dry, not terrible by any means, but not as fantastic as they looked

This is normally where I would talk about the salad. You are already aware of what happened with the salad.

Now we have only come across one other parma that was served without a salad, and in that case we simply gave it a zero across the board for salad score, which greatly affects its final score as you can imagine. We discussed this last night and came to the conclusion that method isn’t fair, if ‘The Simpsons’ has taught us anything its that you don’t win friends with salad

[youtube id="aM6xVQwIOYQ" width="580" height="337"]

So giving them a zero and dragging the score down because they choose not to include a salad is the wrong answer - instead they get a 5 (middle of the road) across the board for salad score, BUT the lack of salad is well and truly counted in the overall value score, which would definitely take a hit for the exclusion of a salad.

sound fair? I think so.

Also, I will be amending The Skinny Dog’s parma under this new rule as well (which will henceforth be known as the ‘You don’t win friends with salad’ rule), just to make it fair.

So as I said at the beginning, I Really tried to like the James Squire’s Parma, It looked amazing, they put a lot of effort into the different varieties (including a ‘parma of the week’ on the specials board). But for the price they are charging it simply isn’t worth it, as I said before, we’ve definitely had worse parmas, but if I were to order a ‘Theif’ Parma with a side salad I would be looking at over $37 for my meal alone, a full $10 more than what we paid for the Grandeoso double parma at the Hotel Albion, which is just crazy.

The venue itself is absolutely fantastic! The beers are amazing and its in a perfect spot. If I’m welcome to show my face there after the score I am about to give, I will definitely be back on a Friday night for another tasting paddle or five.

Parma - 5.36
Chips- 5.43
Salad - N/A
Value - 2.86
Total - 4.80

The search continues…

James Squire Brewhouse on Urbanspoon