Where? 228 Langridge St. Abbotsford
Price? - $20
Website? - http://thecarringbush.com.au/
Reviewers – Em, Grace, Lee, Matt, Nikki, Tony [/info]
Well this is it! our last new review for 2014. There'll be another post in the coming weeks when we present the year's winners with their Golden Chook trophies, but as far as new pubs go this is it until sometime in January. I'll save the thankyous and other sappy stuff until the trophy presentation post, so until then ... to the pub!
Driving around Abbotsford is heaven for pub lovers, and in the realm of this website a bit of an untapped resource - Just driving to this week's parma I made a mental note to add at least 4 new pubs to the list of parmas to check out, but until then, last night we visited The Carringbush Hotel.
Tucked away in the backstreets of Abbotsford, the words "hidden gem" come to mind. This is a pub that just oozes character and old-world charm, It's a pub just the way I like it - cosy, quaint, with a solid craft beer list and lots of little nooks to get lost in for an afternoon.
There's a front bar for drinkin', a dining room for dining (worth noting that the parma is not available on the dining room menu) and a fusion of the two in-between, with tables for food from the bar menu, but without the fancy menu or tablecloths - which is where we pulled up a pew for the evening.
Oh, and if you like your beers in the sun there's also a quaint little courtyard - not too spacious, but enough to get a breath of fresh air with your pint.
We grabbed the menu and spied our target - an even $20 for the parma on a regular night, However its worth mentioning that on Tuesdays the parma, while still $20, comes with a free pint of Two Birds - Which is a great deal if I ever heard one.
We ordered our grub and kicked back with a beer. As I mentioned earlier the beer list is craft focussed, with more than enough to keep you entertained for an evening (The Two Birds Sunset Ale and Mountain Goat Steam Ale were going down particularly well last night).
About 20 minutes later (not bad for 6 parmas) our meals arrived from the kitchen...
No bones about it, the schnitzel was damn good quality. Decent sized, pure white chicken breast with a consistent thickness. It was conservatively crumbed and cooked perfectly, retaining its juiciness and not at all stringy. As far as foundations for a good parma go, this one was on the money.
The toppings were a tad controversial, First up there is no ham, which some people consider a no-no, yet I'm willing to look past it if the parma lifts its game in other ways. The cheese was fantastic, flavoursome and cooked to perfection. Now on to the controversial bit - the napoli.
I guess the issue comes down to one thing - do you like capsicum? as this non-traditional nap has a bunch of capsicum in it, which can catch you off-guard if you aren't prepared for it. I, for one, liked it - I've got nothing against capsicum and thought it added a fresh, interesting flavour to the dish, however a couple of members on the review team weren't big on capsicum in general, and wasn't a fan of the unexpected sweetness that it added to the dish.
I wouldn't say get rid of the capsicum - It added a unique twist to the dish that even the naysayers said they got used to after the initial shock, but perhaps add something to the description on the menu so it isn't as much of a surprise.
The chips were impressive, massive serve of thick cut chips that remained piping hot and cooked to perfection, retaining a hearty crunch and soft, pillowy potato inside. My one complaint would be that they were a little under-seasoned, I didn't see any salt shakers around (although in the pub's defence, I didn't ask). They were good, a pot of sauce or aioli would've made them great.
The salad was another mixed bag the lettuce, cucumber, onion & tomato were all spot on, but I question the decision to add an ingredient we could best identify as fennel - it added an odd sweetness to the salad that I think detracted what was overall a well made and tasty side (although that's my opinion, some of the other reviewers at the table enjoyed it... we are an indecisive bunch).
For $20? Bargain. for $20 on Tuesday's with a free pint of Two Birds? Massive bargain, and would definitely be the day I'd go should I find myself in Abbotsford again. I would definitely go back to the Caro, it ticks a lot of boxes that I like to see in pubs that I frequent, The parma wasn't perfect (a slice of ham would be lovely) but it was a damn good, quality attempt, and definitely one you should be checking out should you get the chance.
And with that we close out ParmaDaze for 2014! Like I said at the start I'm saving the goodbyes for the trophy presentation post that will be up at some point in the next week or so (we're thinking about shifting it from our regular Thursday night so we can have a few celebratory bevvies afterward and not worry about work in the morning). But you'll hear from us soon enough...
- Pure chicken breast schnitzel
- Plenty of tasty, well cooked chips
- Unique, fresh napoli (although may be considered a "con" for some diners)
- A backstreets gem, My favourite kind of pub
- No ham
- Was personally not a fan of the fennel in the salad