If you don't follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, you're probably wondering where the hell we were last week, Well long story short two of our ParmaDaze review team, Reviewers Shanan and Kylie got hitched over the weekend - So major congratulations to those guys!
The happy couple Reviewers Shanan & Kylie, surrounded by Reviewers Stefo, Fridge, Adam and Cale - Good looking bunch, aren't they?
They held the wedding in Hobart, and our plans were to go down on the Wednesday prior and make it a bit of a holiday - But that would put us out of Melbourne for Thursday parma night! Never fear, as I had just heard that the TV show "Discover Downunder" had just named The Brunswick Hotel in Hobart "Australia's Best Parma".
It all fell into place! We'd go to Hobart, Try the (alleged) best parma in the country and that would be the review for the week! Seemed like a good plan, what I didn't count on was finding myself in far too many pubs over the course of 6 days, and as we all know, with pubs ... come parmas.
Now we've got a fair bit to cover (5 parmas) So I'm gonna try keep these short and sweet! Now they're special attempts so I wont be giving them an official score, but I'll definitely let you know what I think of each and every one of them. Here we go!
PARMA #1 - THE SHIPWRIGHT'S ARMS
I'll say it up front, the Shippies is quite possibly my favourite pub in Hobart. Set in the quaint backstreets of Battery Point, this is a pub that just oozes charm inside and out. It's an old-world pub with a classic feel that you could just get lost in all afternoon.
We arrived at the Shippies on Wednesday, the first night in town, and I'm not going to lie - We had downed a few beverages before arriving. It was still relatively early so we found a spot in the Bistro pretty easily (I would recommend booking in the future though, as I have been turned away on more than one occasion when arriving at peak hour without a booking).
We got seated in prime position in the bistro, in front of a roaring fireplace, and took a gander at the menu -
Done and done - it's also worth noting that there is a parma special also available three days of the week...
I feel that Disney's copyright lawyers might be giving these guys a call soon regarding their choice of font.
We ordered the parmas and kicked back in front of the fire, enjoying a few more drinks and soaking up the atmosphere. I spied a cosy looking beer garden out the back that I had never seen before, but it was getting a little chilly so we decided to stay in front of our fireplace.
Before too long (about 3/4's of a Captain Morgan & Coke) Our parmas arrived...
Now first thing I'm going to apologise for in this review is the lack of photos and the poor quality of this one - I wasn't on my A game and only managed to take the vertical shot of the Shippies parma, but you can pretty much see that the deal is.
First up, the schnitzel was pure white chicken breast, practically swimming in its own juiciness. The crumbs were thin and crunchy and it was of a decent size, not overly thin, but not massive either.
On top of the melted cheese the Shippies sprinkled a hearty layer of parmesan before grilling - I've seen a dusting of parmesan before, but this was laid on thick - It was different, I liked it, but I don't think its something I'd want on every parma I have as it was quite rich.
The napoli sauce was a contentious point, While it was damn tasty, fresh and chunky it was quite sweet which, like the parmesan, I didn't mind too much, but was a little overpowering by the end of the meal. Some of the other reviewers at the table disagreed with me though, and thought it was amazing.
The chips and salad were a bit of a let down compared to the parma itself. Standard bag chips and a stock standard salad - although I always appreciate some capsicum mixed through a salad, it was still average, it was sad as they had started so strong with their bird
The parma at The Shippies is fantastic, no question, they do make a couple of odd choices with some of the elements but variety is the spice of life and at least they're trying something new.
I'll be back to the shippies, It remains one of my favourite Hobart pubs and I will make a point of stopping in every time I'm in town.
PARMA #2 - THE SHAMROCK HOTEL
Note: The Shamrock has had a coat of paint since this photo was taken, but this was the most recent one I could find.
The Shamrock is an unassuming little pub, with the plethora of options in Hobart for a place to wet your whistle it can kind've blend into the background - but If you find yourself in the city and are on the lookout for a cheap, quick lunch its worth ducking your head in.
Much like the Shippies the Shamrock is an old world pub - walking in the door you get the sense that the interior hasn't been altered since 1974, and I love it that way. Its one of those pubs where you can pull up a pew and watch the world outside go by while you sit on a pint.
The highlight of the Shamrock, however, is their $10 Lunch menu. On a blackboard up one end of the pub is a list of about 10 classic pub grub items. Burgers, schnitzels, steaks - All quality, all $10. The people of Hobart know it too, as from 11:30 this place is inundated with locals bustling to get their lunchtime fix.
Unfortunately, The chicken parma doesn't appear on their $10 lunchtime specials board, a tragedy I know, but you have to go full menu if you want to sample ($20-ish). I won't lie, it kind've stings when the girl next to me orders a schnitzel with mushroom sauce for $10, and I've gotta fork out an extra blue one for parma toppings.
I placed the order, grabbed a pint, walked back to the table, took three sips and bam. The parmas arrived at the table. It was literally no more than four minutes between placing the order and when the parma came out - These guys know their lunch rush and must have some schnitty's ready to go, I was a little worried when this happened, as usually speed≠ quality when it comes to parmas.
Suspicions were allayed once I tucked in, this was still a quality schnitzel. Not quite to the level as it was at the Shippies, but it was fresh, piping hot and covered in a healthy serving of ... salami?
I'm not sure what happened in the kitchen, maybe they ran out of ham, but my parma came out covered in salami instead - Now, In my book this is a bonus, salami trumps ham. However when I bragged about it on Instagram I was met with some disdain - apparently not everyone is as big of a fan of salami as I am and marked it down because of it. To each his own I guess, but I took that one as a positive.
The napoli tasted kind've canned, but there was plenty of it and it was relatively tasty. The cheese was there, but it wasn't really anything noteworthy - I was still buzzing that I got some free salami.
The chips with the Shammy parma were damn good. I'm gonna call it early and say they were the best chips we had in the five parmas tried on the trip. Beer battered, golden brown, perfect crunch and seasoned to perfection.
The salad was pretty standard pub garden salad. Fresh, but kinda dry - could've really used an extra squeeze of dressing.
As much as I liked unsolicited salami, the toppings on the Shamrock parma are just not worth the extra $10. It's still a damn good pub that serves a great quality pub meal at bargain prices - but save yourself a tenner and go for the schnitzel and gravy instead (or mushroom/pepper sauce) You get the same quick, quality meal, the same fantastic chips and you save enough extra cash for a pint to accompany it.
PARMA #3 - IRISH MURPHY'S
On Friday morning we called The Brunswick Hotel to see if we could secure a table for that night to try a parma, but we were shut down ... I should have listened to everyone who told me we should book well in advance. It hurt, but people were still hankering for some parmas, so we wandered down Salamanca Pl. and found a very inviting looking Irish Pub - Irish Murphy's
Now if you've been into a Bridie O'Reilly's, Pugg Mahone's or PJ O'Brien's you know the score and I don't really need to go into much more detail about the decor of this pub. There was a pretty large group so we took a table on the dance floor and checked the menu -
Done and done. We placed our orders at the bar and waited. I'd say a pint later and our food arrived -
The schnitzel was great quality. Crumbed to perfection with just the right about of crunch. It was topped with generous lashings of ham and a heap of bubbly golden-brown cheese (there were some minor nudity issues, but nothing major). This parma had one major problem though ... it was as dry as Uluru on February 3rd.
There was one 2 square inch section of the parma that contained any semblance of napoli, but the rest was bone dry. It was more like eating a chicken, ham and cheese sandwich than it was a parma. It didn't help that the schnitzel was also devoid of moisture, normally a slightly dry schnit can be saved with a good napoli - not in this case.
It was disappointing, as the foundations of this parma looked so great, and the one (albeit tiny) portion of the parma that did have napoli was actually pretty damn tasty - it was just a shame they couldn't carry it through the rest of the dish.
Chips were well seasoned but a little undercooked and there wasn't nearly enough of them. The beetroot in the salad was a nice touch, but overall it was another afterthought of an addition to the meal. Irish Murphy's had a good atmosphere though. The footy was on the big screen, there was a great little heated seating area out the front, right on Salamanca - We stayed there the rest of the night, hoping to god our hangover for the morning of the wedding the next day wouldn't be too bad.
PARMA #4 - BARCELONA
The wedding the day previous had gone off without a hitch, it was a fantastic day and even better evening. The following morning however, was a little dusty. I crawled out of bed at about 10:30 and we got a group together to hunt down some breakfast.
Not far from Irish Murphy's, just behind Salamanca Place is a large, open area known as "Salamanca Square" - try and think of it as Hobart's answer to Federation Square in Melbourne. There's a big TV screen and a lot of cafe's, bars and other nifty little shops that front onto the square - one of which was Barcelona.
When I sat down at the table a parma was the furthest thing on my mind. I had my sights set on bacon. On benedict. On some form of egg and meat combo that would make the hurting stop ... then my eyes fell on this portion of the menu -
It was after 11 so we had moved into both breakfast and lunch menu territory. I looked at the breakfast menu, then back at the schnitzel, back at brekky, back at schnitzel. What better meal than the food of foods to save me from my hungover hole... I ordered the parma.
Now, Cafe's in Hobart seem to operate on their own concept of time. Nothing is in a hurry, if you order a coffee - be prepared to wait ten minutes while they lazily cobble it together while chatting with the locals about their Sunday arvo plans. This parma took a while to come out (an apple juice and a half, and there was a sizeable delay between juices). But it eventually fell to the table -
It looked impressive! The tiny stack on the middle of a massive plate was certainly a unique way of presenting a parma - sure the schnitzel was a little small in circumference, but size isn't everything (at least that's what my wife keeps telling me).
It was hard to cut into without squishing the mash further down, but I managed. My suspicions were correct about the chicken quality - it was pure white, fresh and damn juicy. The toppings were fresh and delicious - I would have loved a slice of ham (or more unsolicited salami) but it wasn't meant to be.
It was a small parma, but it hit the spot. I wasn't a wrap for the sides however. Broccolini has no place under a parma and the mash ... for mash, it was okay. But chips are a classic side and I would have much preferred some chippies over a pile of mash. If you're gonna give me mash, give it as well as chips, not instead of.
We sat at Barcelona for a little while longer to collect ourselves. One more apple juice and I was ready to face the day - So the parma did help with the hangover.
If I went back to Barcelona I would definitely give the parma another shot - I would just make sure to consult the menu for a side order of chips.
PARMA #5 - THE LOFT
Sunday afternoon. The parents of the Bride threw a lovely BBQ for us to get together and reflect on the night previous (as well as indulge in a little 'hair of the dog'). The plan at the time was to have lunch there, then whoever was still left in town could meet up at The Brunswick that night and we could finally try that famous parma. I was sitting on a chair in the corner discussing it, We were going to arrive at around 4 in the afternoon, and our group was going to be half the size that it would have been on Friday night - so surely we wouldn't have a problem getting a table. But just in case, I was gonna call in a booking.
I grabbed my phone and visited their website. Then I saw it. The Brunswick's opening hours.
I was heartbroken - Our flight out the next morning was far too early, there was no way we could get it in time. To make things worse I had a room full of hungry parma goers pumped to try "Australia's Best Parma" ... What could I do? Then it hit me ... The Loft!
At the start of last year I took a family trip to Hobart, and one of the places we stopped for dinner was The Loft, a restaurant located within Wrest Point Casino in Hobart. At the time I didn't have much expectations for the food, but I ordered the parma anyway. When it came out then, It looked like this -
At the time I was blown away. It was absolutely massive - sure it had slight nudity issues, but the areas that had topping on them were bigger than some parmas we've had - I loved it, and always wanted to come back and give it the official treatment as I considered it easily in the top 15 parmas I'd ever had... I guess now was the time! So I spread the word. Parmas at the Loft. We arrived that evening, took our table and spied the menu
It was unchanged - appearing on the menu exactly as it did a year previous. I was pumped, everyone was pumped. We placed our orders and waited with baited breath for the food to arrive.
Look at the picture a year previous, then look at this mess. Complete downgrade, and everyone at the table's was the same. Processed schnitzel. Canned toppings. No ham. Rubber cheese that looked as if it had been under the heatlamps for an hour... and the worst part, the price was unchanged. We had just paid $26 for the privilege of eating this turd of a parma. I'm writing this review three days after eating it and I'm still getting worked up just remembering it.
The chips were dry, wrinkled and unseasoned. If we hadn't ordered them 5 minutes after the restaurant opened I'd be convinced they had been sitting in a bowl for hours. Although they were open for lunch, so perhaps we just got the leftovers from the lunch shift.
Salad wasn't much better. Almost green cherry tomatoes, everything else looked like the offcuts of a proper salad doused in far too much dressing
I think I was most upset about this one because I know that it used to be good. What the hell happened in the last year that caused them to turn their parma so shitty - In the time since I first ate the parma at The Loft I have recommended it to a heap of people, talking it up as one of the best parmas I have ever had. If you were one of those people I am so, so sorry.
If I had to choose one parma from the trip as my favourite I'd have to say it was The Shippies. That pub is all round class with a great parma to boot. In a dream world I could play Frankenstein and take the parma from the Shippies (with the crumbs from Irish Murphy's), the chips from the Shamrock and the presentation from Barcelona to create my perfect Hobart parma. Then I'd leave the loft in the garbage to rot. Rot and die.
Well I hope you enjoyed this little parma tour of Hobart! I posted a ton of photos to Instagram on the way, so check that out if you're keen. I know it sucks that we didn't make it to The Brunswick, but it's on our list - next time we can nab a cheap Jetstar flight we'll be there to give it a crack.
Back to our regularly scheduled programming this week! We'll be back with a new Melbourne-based review this Friday. Same parma-time, Same parma-channel.