When? - 17th of May, 2013
Where? - The Woodlands Hotel, 84 - 88 Sydney Rd, Coburg.
Price? - $25
Website? - http://www.thewoodlandshotel.com.au/
Reviewers – Adam, Lee, Nikki, Stefo
UPDATE 02/08/18 - After launching a new menu we returned to the Woodlands. Click here for the updated review!
“If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise”
A quote directly from The first page of Woodlands Hotel’s website. I like suprises, and these days when it comes to parmas a surprise is a difficult feat to pull off.
After an overwhelming win on the facebook poll, we loaded up the parma bus and headed to Coburg.
The Woodlands is a cosy pub with a funky flair, overflowing with personality and style. We stuck to the downstairs bar, but the upstairs dining room and courtyard out the back both looked promising.
Deciding on a beer is quite the feat, with over 50 different beers on the beer menu there are certainly enough options to warrant multiple visits
We took our seats and grabbed the menu, Target acquired…
We placed our orders at the bar and waited, I forgot to set the stopwatch this week so I can’t say exactly how long it took for the parmas to arrive, but it wasn’t long at all - Half a pint. Max.
A tip of the hat to The Woodlands Hotel - I was definitely surprised…
This was certainly a different parma, with a very unique presentation style.
I will say that although it looks amazing, serving everything in a pile such as it was was a bit of the pain in the ass to eat, especially with the amount of chips that there were and the curved plate (almost a bowl) the meal was served in, it took a fair amount of jiggering to get the parma down from fries mountain.
The schnitzel was thick, juicy and carried a flavour that made us forgiving of the nudity. However the schnitz was definitely not the most interesting part of this parma - it’s time to talk toppings.
This was not your ordinary parma, it was a re-imagining. Now just because it’s a new take doesn’t make it bad, quite the opposite - Much like the Star Trek movies compared to the original series, this parma had a lot to offer. (**Edit - I’m not saying the original series was bad. I mean that both the original and the remake, while both being good, have different things to offer)
First of all we had prosciutto instead of straight ham, a risky choice as prosciutto can often make a parma taste insanely salty - not in this case. It was a bold flavour that worked well with the other unique ingredients
Secondly, the cheese. Rather than going for shredded cheese coverage, The Woodlands opted for layering the parma with slices of taleggio cheese (A soft rind cheese, like camembert or brie), as you can see from the above photo it was fresh, with mine still having some of the rind attached. This was another brave choice that would not have worked with many other parmas, yet with this parma the flavours complimented each other beautifully.
There was plenty of chunky, fresh homemade napoli, also full of very strong flavours, I detected a lot of red wine but I can’t be sure.
Now, In the last few paragraphs I have used a lot of adjectives like “bold”, “strong” and “adventurous” to describe the toppings, and they all work beautifully together, however my one criticism for this parm would be that its just so much.
There is so much going on in this parma its a bit of an overload, It’s just so rich that I had to stop halfway through and take a breather, snack on some chips, then continue. It’s a very heavy dish, you definitely won’t be walking away hungry.
I mentioned it earlier, but under the parma there definitely wasn’t a shortage of fries. A mountain of wonderfully cooked shoestring fries (aka. Maccas chips) waited under the parmage. I’m not a big fan of fries over chunky chips, yet these did the job fine and were a great palate cleanser when the parma got to be too much.
The garden salad (lettuce & onion, tossed in oil) was served on top of the parma. My first instinct was to push it to the side and finish it later, which I did, and found it to be a little bland. However talking to the lads afterwards it appears I made an error as their tactic was to leave the salad atop the parma and eat them both together, parma and salad at the same time. It seemed like a popular move and if I had the parma again I’d definitely give this method of consumption a try.
The Woodlands definitely put top quality ingredients into their parma (taleggio cheese and prosciutto especially) so its hard to complain about a $25 price tag. Yeah its a bit expensive but for a gourmet parma such as this it’s to be expected, I’d happily pay it again.
This isn’t a parma for everyone. It has a lot of bold flavours and brave choices. However if you’re adventurous and in the mood for something a bit different, then definitely give it a try.
You might be surprised.