Reviewers – Adam, Cale, Fridge, Lee, Ness, Nikki, Stefo [/info]
First things first, next week is the Good Friday Appeal - if you live in Melbourne it needs no introduction. There is an initiative around Melbourne pubs wherein for the next week starting today (The 11th) until Thursday (The 17th) of April, $2 from every parma sold at one of the participating venues will go straight to the Good Friday Appeal.
So do your part for the kids, check out the list of participating venues here and get a bird in ya for a great cause!
Now ... back to our regularly scheduled program.
We visited The Phoenix at the request of reviewers Cale and Ness, residents of Point Cook that make the trek out to wherever we may be reviewing every week - having just returned from their honeymoon (congrats again guys!) we figured we would give them a break, go to them for once and visit their local - The Phoenix Hotel.
The Phoenix is one of those mega-pubs popping up in the outer suburbs that combines a Sports bar, TAB, bottle'o, pokies venue, function rooms, cafe and bistro into one alcohol-fuelled megaplex. We've visited places like this in the past with varying results, so I was curious to see how things went.
Before heading into the bistro we stopped in for a pint in the sports bar - It was a decent fitout, plenty of TV's, cheap drink specials ($4 coronas on Thursdays) and a mammoth projector screen for important sporting events - Had there been a Thursday night game of footy on this would have been a great place to catch it.
Once the whole crew arrived we migrated across to the bistro. The first thing that struck me about it was the sheer size - it was massive! seating for at least a hundred people and at 7pm on a Thursday it was already quite busy. It's a family friendly venue, with the obligatory kids play room up one end to keep the little one's busy while mummy & daddy enjoy dinner.
We checked the menu - parma sighted.
Before the parmas some pregames were ordered - Arancini balls and Oysters Kilpatrick. I personally didn't partake in either but opinions on the entrees around the table were all positive - a good sign of things to come? Hopefully.
About half a pint later our mains arrived...
The schnitzel was probably the weakest element of the dish. It was unprocessed, real chicken and fresh crumbs, however it was completely soggy, a little dry, really dense and tasted... old, as if it was pre-prepared (just conjecture of course, but that's what it tasted like) Other than that though it was still enjoyable, it was surprisingly filling and I don't think anyone walked away from the table hungry.
The toppings were pretty good for the most part - there was heaps of napoli and ham, however it was a little light on the cheese - another handful would have really helped this parma as at times it felt like I was eating nothing but napoli. The ham carried a great smokey flavour throughout the parma that really complimented the dish, the cheese that was there was just that ... there, nothing much else to report about it.
The chips were fantastic. You might struggle to see them in the photos as they were completely eclipsed by the parma (why I don't know, as there was plenty of empty room on the plate). I can't confirm this as it wasn't listed on the menu, but the chips with the Phoenix parma looked a lot like the famous Bad Boy chips that we first encountered at The Mail Exchange and have been popping up sporadically since then - and whats better than a Bad Boy chip? A surprise Bad Boy chip. I would have loved a few more and they were slightly overcooked, but minor complaints to a fantastic addition to the dish.
The salad was also surprisingly good. Served in a separate bowl with heaps of dressing everything was fresh, crisp and tasty. Yes it was just a standard garden salad, but for what it was it worked well.
$24 for what we got is a little steep, It was an okay parma but for $24 I want something special. I hear there is a cheaper parma over in the sports bar however in that version the Bad Boy chips are swapped out for standard fries. If I found myself at the Phoenix again I would probably find myself giving it another go, however I wouldn't go too far out of my way for the privilege.
The Phoenix is a tough parma to judge. The sides were solid but the parma was a bit 'meh', It wasn't terrible but for the price I was left wanting. There were good elements and bad. The mythological Phoenix from which the pub gets is name is a symbol for reinvention, for shedding off the bad and starting anew - Hopefully The Phoenix Hotel takes a cue from its namesake, makes a few tweaks and bring this parma up to a level worthy of the price.
- Bad Boy (or at least Bad Boy-Esque) chips
- Flavourful smoked ham
- Expensive for what it is
- So/so schnitzel quality