When? - 28th of November, 2013
Where? - 295 Johnston St. Abbotsford
Price? - $22
Website? - http://www.theyarrahotel.com.au/
Reviewers – Dale, Emma, Lee, Nikki, Matt, Tony
Aaaand we're back! Hope everyone had a great holiday season and happy New Year.
Kicking things off for the 2014 season is the Yarra Hotel in Abbotsford. This one came about through sheer lack of organisation. Being the start of the year I hadn't planned enough in advance to organise a facebook poll to tell us where to go, so at the start of the week I put out an open call for suggestions...
The first response back was the Yarra Hotel, the suggester then followed up with the cryptic statement that it was a "Retro 80's parma". My interest was piqued. I did some googling and the pub looked good to me. We set the location and when Thursday rolled around we loaded up the parma bus for the first time in 2014, and headed out to the Yarra Hotel.
Basically across the road from Victoria Park, The Yarra has undergone recent renovations to bring this old gem back to life. You could tell this was a pub that loved its live music. With a rotating calendar of live acts churning out tunes every night of the week, upon walking in to the front bar we could see the stage being set for Thursday night's gig.
Out the back the spacious beer garden is a fantastic spot. It was a perfect night for some al fresco parmas so we found a table out there and grabbed some menus. Spied the parma ($22) and placed our orders at the bar.
Drinks-wise I started off the night with a pint Mountain Goat Steam Ale (always a good decision) then switched over to Collingwood Draught once the parma arrived - I had never had the Collingwood before and was pleasantly surprised, a fresh, flavoursome drop that I'd definitely give another go.
Amazingly, I remembered to set the stop watch this week (1 for 1 in 2014! woo!)
24 minutes for 6 parmas isn't bad at all. Hopefully if I can remember the stopwatch enough this year we can get some sort of time-per-parma average stats to compare this against. 24 divided by 6 is four minutes per parma. Not bad in my book.
The parmas arrived at the table.
Is it just me, or does my parma look the The Millennium Falcon?
My first thought was that the schnitzel looked undercooked. It was nearly white. But on closer inspection (points to our eagle eyed reviewer Em for picking this one) the parma wasn't crumbed - it was battered. Like a piece of grilled flake. I'm guessing this is what the facebook suggester meant by a "Retro 80's parma", I was 6 and a half years old when the 80's ended so I can't recall if this is what parmas were like back then, but we've never seen this before.
We tucked in ... I didn't like it. The crunch that you normally get from crumbs was gone, I'm all for trying new things with parmas and I try to keep my mind as open as possible (hell I tried coating my own parma in crushed pork rinds once), but this one just didn't do it for me, and the rest of the table agreed.
Besides the coating the chicken was decent quality, not overly thick but not thin by any stretch of the word. Pure white and well cooked (it actually looked like a good piece of grilled flake at times).
As for the toppings they were pretty disappointing all around. There was very little cheese, leaving lots of nudity underneath (both partial and full frontal), the napoli had no spice and tasted like straight passata. The ham was fine, carried a decent flavour, but it didn't do much to save this one
I'm normally not big on french fries (or "maccas chips") with my parma, but these ones were actually pretty decent (not amazing, but decent). Well cooked and seasoned and in a pretty sizeable serving. Not to spoil how the next paragraph about the salad is gonna go, but the chips were pretty much the best part of the dish.
The salad wasn't great. A little wilted and very finely chopped garden salad of lettuce, sliced radish and cabbage with the lucky among the table getting a few slivers of what appeared to be picked onion. Like the parma it was underdressed and failed to impress.
For $22 this was a disappointing parma, if it were $15 I'd accept its shortcomings but for a pretty full priced parma this wasn't good value at all.
I really liked the vibe of the Yarra when we arrived. The casual front bar, obvious reverence for live music and fantastic beer garden appealed to me greatly - so it cut me deep when the parma was a disappointment. I wouldn't call it bad by any stretch, but there was just no love put into the dish. It needed some spice, some oomph. Points to the Yarra for trying something new with the battered chicken breast, and with a bit of tweaking to the rest of the formula it might just work - but at the moment it was a bit of a confusing addition to a loveless dish.