Where? - 237 Station St. Carlton North
Price? - $21, $15 with a pot on Saturdays
Website? - http://brandonhotel.com.au/
Reviewers – Lee, Nikki, Stefo
I love a good hidden gem, and this pub has done such a good job of being a hidden gem that I had no idea it was there until a few weeks ago.
Tucked away in the back streets of Carlton North, the Brandon Hotel is a stones throw from big name spots like the Great Northern Hotel or The Dan O'Connell, the Brandon is a spot for the locals. A no nonsense, friendly, welcoming spot that you'd be happy to call your second home - My kind've pub.
We arrived at around 7 o'clock and headed past the abundance of street-side tables and into the main bar, at first glance it seemed like the main bar is all that the pub was, but when we headed around the back what seemed like a pokey little hole in the wall opened up into a very spacious dining room - complete with double sided fireplace and even a cosy little beer garden complete with outdoor fire and dart board.
We scored prime position in front of the fireplace, grabbed a few pints and settled in.
Yep. this is a cosy pub, with such a friendly atmosphere - You don't see an Android: Netrunner tournament happening in too many Melbourne pubs, yet at the Brandon it made perfect sense. I liked this pub already, lets hope we weren't disappointed by the tucker. We checked the menu...
And ordered our dinner.
The tap list is small, but skews to the crafty. The chalkboard on the wall implies that they rotate their taps at least semi regularly.
I stuck with the Cavalier Blonde for the night - Was a tasty, sessionable drop that I'd be happy to have again.
No more than ten minutes after ordering our food arrived from the kitchen -
My first point will probably be my major criticism for the entire meal (I normally try and start with a positive, but lets get this one out of the way) - The schnitzel was quite small. Not criminally so, but for a full priced parma we've come to expect something bigger - the size of the Brandon's parma was probably on par with the "small" parma option at our recent review of the Cherry Tree Hotel.
It's saving grace would be that it thickened out to a respectable size and was a quality, pure white bird - well cooked and not overly crumbed.
Enough of me whining - the toppings of this parma were choc full of flavour. There was a lot of tasty cheese through the cheese blend (it may have been all tasty, but I can't be sure) so be prepared for a parma with some bite. The ham was flavoursome and made its presence known, and they weren't tight with it at all. The napoli was canned, but it had a very distinct flavour, in fact, halfway through this parma we realised that it was all very familiar.
It tasted like the Jimmies parma. Granted we've reviewed 240 parmas since we last had it, but the kick of the tasty cheese and that very distinct napoli flavour were extremely reminiscent of the parma we still consider the best we've ever had. Sure the schnitz was half the size, and there was only one kind of salad - but I'd remember those topping combinations anywhere.
The chips were great. Beer battered pub chips, well cooked and served (mostly) out from underneath the parma itself. The serving size varied a little from plate to plate, with reviewer Stefo drawing the short straw and only getting a handful, yet I had a decent serve.
It was good to get a garden salad with plenty in it. Decent serve of lettuce with plenty of tomato, cucumber and onion through it tossed it a flavourful balsamic dressing. Not the best we've ever had, but definitely nothing to complain about.
For $21 I'm willing to give this parma a pass, sure it was a little small but what it lacked in size it more than made up for in flavour, and I didn't walk away from the table hungry at all. If I was at the Brandon I'd have no problems ordering the parma again. The pub has a different food special on every day of the week -
With Saturday being the day to stop in for a parma - That parma for only $15 with a pot is an absolute bargain and complete gamechanger, and definitely worth a drive to check out - Especially since Saturday parma specials are, if you'll pardon the pun, as rare as hens teeth.
It's times like this I wish we had a score category for atmosphere because I really enjoyed my time at the Brandon, its pubs like these that would factor in to my decision making if I were to move to a new area of Melbourne. If you're ever in the area maybe give the higher profile pubs a miss and head down the backstreets to try give this local gem a crack.
- Great flavours through the parma
- Didn't skimp on the toppings
- Relatively small schnitzel