Where? The Pinnacle Hotel, 251 St. Georges Rd, Fitzroy North
Price? - $17.50
Reviewers – Fridge, Lee, Nikki, Stefo, Tony [/info]
If you live in Melbourne and you like beer chances are you've heard of The Happiest Hour, A website devoted to finding and listing the best pub food and drink specials in the country. Its an amazing resource if you're in the mood for a cheap bevvie, and if you haven't yet I suggest you mosey on over and check it out.
Over the last few weeks, The Happiest Hour has been counting down its annual "Top 50 pubs in Melbourne" awards, and if you've read this far and seen the title of this review I think its safe to say you can guess who took out number #1 for 2014 (for the slow, it's The Pinnacle Hotel). So earlier this week I was looking at the top 10 winners and a thought occurred to me, We have reviewed a parma at every pub in the top ten, with the exception of The Pinnacle (and the Rev, but they don't do a parma). How could this have happened? The supposed best pub in Melbourne does a parma and I haven't even set foot in the door?!
This had to be rectified, so last night we loaded up the parma bus and headed down to The Pinnacle Hotel in Fitzroy
The first thing you will notice about the Pinnacle is its odd shape - It's a triangle shaped pub, long and skinny - reminiscent of the Flatiron building in New York, but on a much smaller scale.
Walk in the door and its the quintessential Fitzroy pub. Dim lighting, mismatching chairs, decor that looks like it comes from your grandma's house and patrons that seem to be perpetually competing in a "who can wear the ugliest jumper" competition. When it comes to the beer list, the Pinnacle has hit the nail on the head. Rotating taps of craft beer and staff happy to make recommendations, I sampled the Nail Brewing oatmeal stout and pale ales last night and must say I was delighted with both. There's also a sizable beer garden out the back with a separate bar and what seemed to be a stage setting up for some live Thursday tunes. Was a bit of a brisk evening so opted to sit inside, but on a warm Sunday afternoon I could easily see chilling in the beer garden over a cold one.
We took a seat and checked the menu. This is a bit of a weird one, as (from what I can gather) The Pinnacle has just one novelty parma on the menu that seems to rotate each quarter. The Autumn menu from earlier this year touted an‘Americana’ Parma with hot salami, tomato, red capsicum, caramelized onion, black olive & mozzarella - The Winter menu (currently in rotation) however, offered up this one -
Not too shabby. I will mention that the Pinnacle advertises a $15 Parma & Pot Monday special - I'm not clear if thats for the novelty parma or just a standard nap/ham/cheese deal, but either would be worth a gander.
We ordered our parmas at the bar and awaited their arrival. It was a bit of a wait, I had downed a pint of Oatmeal Stout and was working on my 2nd as the parmas arrived...
My heart sank when I first saw the parma, I think I just had flashbacks to the Clyde a few weeks back and was expecting a dried out, processed lump of crap- Luckily though, I couldn't have been more wrong. The schnitzel, while not being massive in circumference, was plenty thick without an abundance of crumbs.
One edge of my parma had spent slightly too long under the grill and was beginning to burn, but luckily they had pulled it out just in time and the well-done edge didn't affect the flavour at all.
The toppings are where this parma shone. I was a little concerned when I saw that this parma had both napoli and BBQ sauce - I thought they would clash, however they worked together perfectly - The napoli helped to balance out the harshness of the smokey BBQ - which, while tasty, could have proved overpowering on its own.
Under the cheese was a liberal helping of bacon, which was just fantastic. Sometimes when you get bacon on a parma they can be a little tight with it - but not at the Pinnacle. The more the merrier! The cheese was in abundance and cooked well, but with so many strong flavours on the plate it got a little lost in the shuffle.
Now to the most contentious element of the dish - the jalapeños.
I'll start off by saying that I love jalapeños. I get jal-ap-en-yo business if you can give me some jalapeños (and the award for dad joke of the year goes to...) But when I saw their inclusion on a "Smoky BBQ" parma I was thrown - They just didn't seem to fit the theme of the dish. On a Mexican parma? Fine. I'd even give them a pass on last-quarter's 'Americana' parma ... but Smoky BBQ? It didn't quite fit and I think their addition actually detracted from the dish.
Don't get me wrong, They were damn tasty and my opinion isn't representative of the rest of the table (some people loved them) - But with the napoli, the BBQ sauce, the cheese and the bacon, I just feel like the jalapeños added an unnecessary layer to an already very busy parma.
But thats me, and I'm bitching for far too long about a parma that I actually really enjoyed.
Chips were perfectly cooked and served piping hot. Not really seasoned but we were spoiled for choice at the array of condiments available beside the bar. Crinkle cut, too - which is always a bonus. A perfectly fitting accompaniment to the meal.
Garden salad was okay, but it didn't blow me out of the water. All the ingredients were fresh and they weren't tight on the stuff (by "stuff" I mean the bits in a garden salad that aren't lettuce), but they didn't really do anything special with it. Serviceable - but not amazing.
$17.50 for this parma? I am extremely happy with that. In a depressing time when I consider anything under a twenty to be "cheap" $17.50 on a regular menu is refreshing - especially considering they weren't at all tight with the toppings. We have paid much, much more for much, much worse (I point your attention to parma #5 of our 'Tour De Hobart" last week ... I'm still dirty on that one). Throw the aforementioned $15 parma & pot deal into the mix and you're on a winner for a Monday night - I'll definitely pop my head back into the Pinnacle.
Being 5 days into Spring the Pinnacle is due to rotate their menu any day now - So if you want to give the Smoky BBQ parma a try get on it before its gone, as I have no idea what's coming next. It's like when there's a regeneration on Doctor Who ... I've got a feeling whatever comes next will be good, but I can't be sure. So get on it while you can!
- Plenty of flavour
- Liberal use of bacon
- Reasonable price for what you get
- Lots of flavours going on, jalapeños clashed with the theme of the dish (in my opinion)