Where? - 272 Lygon St. Carlton
Price? - $18
Website? - http://www.unihotel.com.au/
Reviewers – Cale, Fridge, Lee, Stefo, Tony [/info]
If you've got an extremely good memory you'll remember that I wanted to try The University Hotel in October of 2013, but we made a mistake and wound up going to Universal instead (which turned out to be a pretty happy accident, as Universal's parma was actually pretty good) - but a part of me always wondered what we missed out on at The University Hotel, so last night we loaded up the parma bus and headed to Lygon St.
Now if you're a fan of the Carlton footy club you may be surprised to learn that it was within the walls of The University hotel that the CFC was founded (at least thats what a plaque on the wall says, and this article seems to back it up). The pub itself is surprisingly small. I grabbed my beer at the bar and assumed the rest of the pub was upstairs but nope ... function room.
It's a cosy spot, but there were enough tables both inside and out on busy Lygon st to satisfy our needs, It was a good night to people-watch so we pulled up a pew at the outdoor eating area, checked the menu...
And ordered our meals.
One thing that really surprised me about The University Hotel was their respect for good quality beer. Like I said it's a tiny pub with only a few of taps, but on those taps we had the option on Mountain Goat Steam Ale, Moon Dog Love Tap, Hawthorn Pale Ale and a rotating guest tap, currently pouring Wolf of the Willows XPA. All hovering at about $5 per pot at $10 per pint, which is pretty reasonable in my book.
After about 15 minutes our parmas arrived -
The schnitzel was big enough, I'd actually say schnitzels as it was two separate chicken breasts cheesed together. The schnitzel wasn't very thick and it was quite overcooked, leaving it rather dry.
The toppings looked great on the plate - good coverage, and I loved the use of shaved ham, but nothing seemed to pop. There was no napoli that I could detect, and ...to be honest all the toppings tasted "fake", kind've like if you scraped the toppings off of a McCain's oven-bake ham & cheese personal pizza and onto a parma.
Okay, that last paragraph came off a bit harsh as I didn't really dislike this meal - It served its purpose and wasn't really that offensive, but it wasn't great. I'll just say this - when I'm cutting my parma and dipping it into tomato sauce, there is definitely something lacking in the flavour department.
The steak chips, on the other hand, were pretty good. Plenty of them, well salted with chicken salt and served with an aforementioned pot of tomato sauce (without having to ask, standard on the plate). These days I prefer a beer battered chip (I think we all do), but for what they were they did their job well.
Garden salad was pretty standard. The big four - Lettuce, tomato, onion and cucumber with a creamy dressing. Nothing bad, nothing good - it was fresh ... but very mid-range.
For $18 I'd probably give the University Hotel's parma a miss the next time around - Not that it was bad, but just up the road from this pub is Universal, which has a better parma, better chips, better salad and is $4 cheaper - I think that's check-mate. University Hotel does offer a $16 Pot & Parma night on Tuesdays which would be the only way I could ever put a recommendation on it.
Maybe I'm just getting grumpy in my old age as the other reviewers were a bit more positive in their scores and comments than I'm being, This review is coming off as far too harsh, so I'll reiterate - It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great.
If you're a die-hard Carlton supporter and want to see where it all began then definitely stick your head into The University - Grab a pint of beer and take in the room - If you want to give the parma a crack while you're there you won't be too disappointed, but you won't be blown away either.
I said at the end of our Universal review that they set the bar high for parmas on Lygon Street - The University Hotel has managed to limbo under it.
- Surprisingly good range of beers
- chicken salted, sauce included chips
- Thin/dry parma
- Processed toppings