When? - 3rd of September, 2015
Where? - 280 Lygon St. Brunswick
Price? - $24.50 on menu, we were charged $22.50
Website? - http://www.eastbrunswickhotel.com.au/
Reviewers – Lee, Nikki, Shanan
update - 13/09/18 - After yet another change of hands we paid the East Brunswick a visit, check out the updated review here
The East Brunswick Hotel is a baby, possibly the newest pub we've ever reviewed on ParmaDaze. Their opening night was Friday last week, which means at the time of writing this review the East Brunny has been open for less than seven days.
When I heard that the old dive bar the East Brunswick Club had closed for renovations my interest was piqued - it was a good pub in a great location with a lot of potential, so I kept a keen eye on their facebook page and followed their progress - It was looking great. So when I confirmed this week that 1) they were open and 2) they had a parma on the menu we made it priority one to head up the Brunswick end of Lygon Street and check it out.
First up - as expected, the renovations are phenomenal -
The pub is unrecognisable to what it was. Now normally I'm not a big fan of a lot of concrete/tiles in pubs, but the East Brunswick manages to pull it off while still retaining a tonne of character. The exposed steel beams and floor boards on the roof are a fantastic look, and there are still highlights of exposed wood and brick all over the place to tone down the sterility that some of the other concrete-heavy pubs have *cough*Transport*cough*.
I figured as the pub is in its infancy, word of mouth hasn't really had time to spread yet, so I didn't worry about booking a table - Big mistake. Rocking up just after seven downstairs was packed to capacity. We grabbed a couple of pints of Coopers from the bar and headed upstairs to try and snag a table.
Upstairs is a completely different vibe from downstairs, you'd almost think you'd stepped into a different pub. Clean white walls, polished floorboards, a white marble bar and chandeliers hanging overhead - upstairs has much more of a classy cocktail bar vibe when downstairs is your local watering hole. We were lucky enough to snag a table, grab a menu and find our target...
I went to the bar and ordered our parmas, its worth mentioning that even though the menu shows the parma as $24.50, we were only charged $22.50. Not sure if this was a fault in the register or a misprint in the menu, but we were charged $2 less than the menu states.
The tap list isn't huge, but there's enough to keep anyone satisfied. Melbourne Bitter on tap, as is popular lately, Coopers, Doss Blockos and Carlton were available upstairs (with some craftier options in the fridge, I spied a Two Birds Sunset Ale at the very least).
After about a half an hour wait our parmas arrived from the kitchen...
The photo doesn't really do it justice, mostly because its hiding under a pile of salad and a soap dish of chips, but this parma is freaking huge. I was feeling peckish in the afternoon and grabbed a cheeky cheeseburger at about 4pm ... big mistake. This thing was gonna be an effort to get through.
The schnitzel was well cooked and juicy - Not as thick as we'd normally like it but not thin by any stretch. The crumbs were applied a tad liberally, but they were well herbed and seasoned - giving the schnitzel alone a fantastic flavour. I could have easily eaten the schnitzel on its own with no complaints.
One slight criticism would be that the excess crumbs made the bottom of my parma quite soggy - I prefer my parma with a good crunch, and this parma was mostly devoid of that, other than around the edges But again, minor criticism. An all round quality foundation for the dish.
If the schnitzel was great, the toppings were excellent. The napoli was home made and bursting with flavour, the fresh herbs throughout were clearly visible, including large chunks of almost whole, fresh basil leaves. The ham was applied liberally and the cheese mix was a perfect blend of the smoothness of mozzarella with a sharp, tasty kick. A fantastic bird.
The soap dish of chips however, were a bit of a low point. I can normally overlook "maccas chips" if they're done well (I'll have a bit of a whinge, but I can deal) - however these just weren't great compared to the phenomenal parma they accompany. Served warm at best and devoid of any seasoning (a bit of salt brought them back to life a little) they were a disappointing stumble in an overall great meal.
The leafy green salad was okay, better than the chips - not as good as the parma. It was fresh and crisp, with a tangy lemon dressing that I quite enjoyed - but I can never really throw my full support behind leafy greens. I need some onion, some cucumber ... some more.
We scored value on the $22.50 we were charged and not the $24.50 on the menu, and for that price I'll definitely be back to the East Brunswick Hotel. It's pricey for a parma, but I'm a firm believer that you get what you pay for and this parma is quality all round - hell I'd even be happy to pay the full $24.50 for what we got. Definitely worth it. Normally when we get big parmas like this one we are very weary about them falling prey to Big Parma Syndrome and being bland and flavourless - This parma is the absolute antithesis of that, bursting at the seams with deliciousness (despite a small slip up with the chips).
Right out of the gate this pub has impressed me, from the decor to atmosphere to the food. Parmas aside there are some amazing sounding items on the menu that I also want to give another crack (a pulled pork burger with mac & cheese? Yes please!), so it won't be long till I'm back at the East Brunswick.
Great cheese blend
Fries weren't great
Salad was a tad boring