Where? Hotel Spencer, 475a Spencer St. West Melbourne
Price? - $16
Website? - http://www.hotelspencer.com.au/
Reviewers – Fridge, Lee, Nikki, Stefo [/info]
Early this week we were planning on hitting up the Pancake Parlour to try the "parma on a pancake" thing that has appeared on their menu. I've got mixed feelings about this, but more on that next week. I was hanging out on the /r/melbourne subreddit of Reddit when the topic of parmas came up and a few suggestions came in - to be honest I'm a bit scared about what the Pancake Parlour is going to serve, so when user Zozozozozoz offered up the recommendation of the Hotel Spencer I jumped at the opportunity to postpone our trip to the Parlour for a week!
I didn't really know much about the Spencer, I think I might had a few drunken pints there after a gig at nearby Festival Hall, but that was ages ago and the pub has undergone a massive transformation since then, re-opening less than a year ago with a brand new look.
Arriving shortly before 7 we managed to just squeeze in on Happy Hour, offering $5 pints of cider, beer and some other drink specials - a great way to start off the night.
The pub was practically empty, Which I was shocked at due to its location and drink prices - We took a seat in the front bar, checked out the menu ...
And placed our orders. As far as beers go the Spencer seems to be putting some support behind craft beers, offering up a tasting paddle for those so inclined. After my $5 pint of Spencer Draught I moved onto the Two Birds Sunset Ale - a delicious drop.
While we waited I wandered around the pub, which is still a functioning backpackers. The dining room was impressive but I can't help but feel like this pub is screaming for a beer garden. I know there isn't much they can do, if they don't have the space they don't have the space. There were a couple of tables & chairs out the front that would make for great people watching - however I feel like they aren't utilising the space to its full potential. Get some umbrellas and solid wood furniture out on the street and you're looking at a fantastic spot for some Sunday sippers.
Our parmas came out relatively quickly, probably due to how quiet the pub was...
When I first saw the schnitzel I thought to myself "crap, this is gonna be processed" - Imagine my surprise when I cut into a juicy, white, real chicken breast! It was a little small but it served its purpose well, wasn't overcooked or overcrumbed... Not blowing my socks off, but a solid way to start the meal.
The toppings were a mixed bag - The mozarella was tasty, but could've used a few more minutes under the grill. The ham was appreciated and added some flavour, however there was virtually no napoli underneath it. It was a tasty parma but I would have killed for a bit more tomato, even resorting to dipping me parma into the supplied sauce pot a couple of times.
The chips were a delight. Hand cut the way hand cut chips are supposed to be, they reminded me of my dad frying up sliced spuds on the barbie when I was a kid. Well seasoned with a sauce pot on all the plates without needing to be requested - definitely the down-to-earth highlight of the meal.
Everyone said the same thing about the salad - We just wanted more. It was fresh, crisp and coated in a deliciously sweet dressing that reminded me of balsamic with notes of honey. However this delicious dressing was served on a couple of lettuce leaves. Nothing more. I know the old saying is "alway leave your audience wanting more" but this was ridiculous.
At $16 I'm putting this one into the "value parma" category - sure it wasn't great, but its price is low enough to forgive some sins. I heard on the grapevine that the Spencer offers a $12 parma Monday - However I can't find any information on the internet to confirm this, If so that's a damn good deal.
We finished off the meal in an unusual way by indulging in a dessert - the chocolate fondant just sounded too delicious to pass up -
I want to call the Hotel Spencer a "hidden gem", but its hardly hidden - it's on friggin' Spencer Street! But it should be busier for a Thursday night. The beers were delicious, the atmosphere was great, the staff were fantastic (attentive and friendly!) and the parma ... its not going to win any awards, it has its issues but overall its pretty good - for the price its definitely worth checking out if you're in the area.
- Great value
- delicious home-style chips
- Parma was a little small
- Needed more napoli