Where? - The Irish Times, 427 Little Collins Street. Melbourne.
Price? - $19.00
Website? - http://www.theirishtimespub.com.au/
Reviewers – Dale, Em, Lee, Matt, Stefo[/info]
The Irish Times is one of those pubs that I've known of for ages, been into very briefly a couple of times, but never really figured it as a place that does more than just a good pint of Guinness - Yet when it was suggested to us that we give their parma a go I wondered why we hadn't tried it before.
In the middle of the CBD, on Lt. Collins St. (between Queen and William) lies the Irish Times, or as I always thought of it - "The Irish pub with the massive flag out the front" - as hanging from the roof of the pub is an Irish flag that would give the Aussie flag at the *** roundabout a run for its money, size wise. I arrived a good hour before the rest of the group was due to rock up as I had neglected to book a table earlier in the day, and wanted to make sure I could secure one. Arriving at around 6pm on a Thursday I was blown away with how busy this place was ... I definitely wasn't expecting it, but it was almost shoulder to shoulder in the cosy pub, right back into the dining room. This was gonna be an issue, While formulating a plan I went to the bar and grabbed a pint. As I returned from the bar, pint in hand, like a miracle a table for 5 beside the door opened up. I swooped in before anyone else could take it and set up shop.
You know that scene in "Seinfeld" where Elaine has to hold the seats for everyone in a crowded movie theatre and has to fend off people trying to steal them?
[youtube id="xx4N8vGbs8I" width="580" height="337"]
This was my life for about 45 minutes last night, however I devised a plan, I grabbed a menu from the bar, downed my first pint and got another, then arranged the empty glass, my coat, and the menu around the table to give the illusion to anybody walking past that I was with a group of people, who were either in the dunny or at the bar at the time. Childish, I know, but worked like a charm.
Just after the group arrived the first little bonus of the night occurred - we were offered some mini spring rolls! Apparently they had free finger food circulating, I can't see a mention on the website as to why there was free finger food, It didn't seem like there was much of a special event on (and I don't think we wandered into a private function) but it was greatly appreciated none the less.
Once everyone arrived and stuffed into the cosy little corner by the window, someone suggested that we checked upstairs to see if there was any room up there. Upstairs? In my many beers at the Irish Times I'd never even registered that there was an upstairs, but sure enough there was (unbeknownst to me) a second, much roomier, level with its own bar, tables and massive screen TV. We scored a table, was (again) offered some free spring rolls and went to the bar to place our order...
We sat back down and awaited our parmas, it was much busier downstairs which gave us the ability to converse without shouting - much more conducive for dinner conversation, however the atmosphere of the Irish Times is great both downstairs and up - it feels like more of a genuine Irish Pub as opposed to some of the pretenders around that think if you paint the walls dark green, whack some farming equipment on the wall and pour a guinness on tap then you're an irish pub. It had a good feel and it'd definitely stick out in my mind the next time I feel like a pint in the city.
Before too long our parmas arrived...
First up, the schnitz - It was a little small, but made up for that in both thickness and freshness. The chicken itself was great quality, juicy and tasty - however it fell apart greatly at the crumbs. I'm not sure what they were but they were rather overcooked and just fell away from the chicken, with a massive chunk of one reviewers crumbs just detaching in one big, solid piece.
The home made napoli was extremely flavourful, it had paprika or some other spice through it that gave it a very unique flavour which I enjoyed at first - unfortunately it was very overpowering and drowned out the flavours on the rest of the dish, the ham was there but could not be detected without specifically looking for it. The cheese was fine, could have used a bit more but (like everything else) was completely muffled by the extremely strong napoli.
The chips were crispy and well cooked however lacked any seasoning, which sent everyone at the table reaching for the salt shaker - we were supplied with a bottle of tomato sauce without requesting it, which is a nice touch. It was a decent serving, nothing to write home about but nothing to complain about specifically either.
The salad was boring. Barely dressed it consisted of a few lettuce leaves and a couple of onion slivers... That's it. It was pretty clear that the salad was just an afterthought to put something green on the plate.
Value-wise it was pretty good - we haven't had a parma under $20 for a while so clocking in at $19 it's hard to complain too much, it was a little small but the free finger food was a lovely little bonus that we haven't seen before - If it was around $4 cheaper I'd consider having this parma again - or even $19 with a free pint.
One thing I noticed while looking at the menu was this little item -
A brownie. With ice cream. Served on a sizzling hot plate?! That sounds absolutely amazing. I didn't try it at the time as brownie doesn't quite go with a parma and 4 pints, but I definitely want to revisit and give it a go, it sounds like amazing sorcery.
The parma at The Irish Times isn't particularly memorable but there's nothing that offensive about it either - it's middle of the road. They started with a great foundation of quality chicken breast but kind've fell apart from there. If they eased off a little on the spice in the napoli and did something about the flakey crumbs then it would be a great little find, but until then I'll probably stick to the great music, quality guinness and free spring rolls.
Parma - 5.80
Chips - 4.70
Salad - 3.00
Value - 6.20
Total - 5.10
The search continues...