Where? - 5 Riverside Quay, Southbank
Price? - $26.50 regularly, $20 parma & pot Thursdays
Website? - http://belgianbeercafemelbourne.com.au/
Reviewers – Fridge, Lee, Nikki, Stefo
Last weekend, on our way to grab a quick bite at Hophaus, We parked at the Eureka Tower carpark and walked across the road to Southbank - I had Hophaus on my mind, but my peripheral vision did catch sight of the Belgian Beer Café, And I locked it away in my brain-hole as a spot to check out and see if they had a parma on the menu.
Low and behold they did, and even better - their Thursday $20 'Parma & pot of Stella or House wine night' (just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?) Just happened to be the night we usually head out to find a parma. It was fate, so last night we loaded up the parma bus and headed to the Belgian Beer Café.
Situated on the ground floor of Eureka Tower, the BBC (The Pub, not the channel that airs Doctor Who) does a great job of feeling like an old-style belgian watering hole. Lots of exposed wood, dim lighting and pastel colours all add to the atmosphere. If you kept your back to the window you could almost forget you were sitting in the middle of one of Melbourne's busiest business precincts.
Even though the pub was packed with suited up business folks grabbing an after-work knock off drink, we managed to catch a table up the back end of the pub, an area with more of a restaurant feel than the bar area - complete with table service.
We didn't really need to see a menu as we knew what we were after, but if we had've looked inside, we would have seen something like this -
But we had our sights set on this one -
We placed our orders and kicked back - Now a review of a Beer Café just wouldn't be complete until we discuss one key component - The beer...
I made the mistake of ordering a pint then ordering my meal, that comes with a pot. Although being double-parked is a problem I don't mind having.
The beer list at the BBC is phenomenal. Thicker than the menu I counted 78 different beers available, ranging in all styles from Amber Ale to Wheat Beer and everything in between (W is the closest I could get to the end of the alphabet ... there are no beer styles starting with Z unfortunately).
And thats not even counting the rotating taps slip on the first page. An absolutely phenomenal range, and something to suit every beer drinker's tastes.
About 20 minutes after ordering our food arrived...
There's never a nice way to start these things, but its all downhill from here.
First up the schnitzel wasn't nearly hot enough. The toppings where hot where they sat under the grill - but the heat didn't penetrate through to the schnitzel, leaving the bottom half luke-warm at best. The schnit was pure white chicken breast, but it was dry as buggery, the crumbs were soggy and their flavour was the most dominant taste of the entire dish... A bad start to the meal.
And unfortunately it doesn't get much better with the toppings. The napoli was basically nonexistent, and what we did get tasted like it came straight from a can of leggo's tomato paste. They weren't tight with the ham and cheese, but they were both equally flavourless it was like eating unsalted cardboard.
I mention "big parma syndrome" from time to time, a phenomenon where the bigger a parma gets the less flavour it seems to have - the BBC's parma tasted like a parma with bad big parma syndrome - Without the size for you to justify it by saying "well at least it was big".
Disappointment all round on the parma at the BBC, which is a damn shame for such a cool pub
At this point in a bad review I'd like to say "at least the chips were good" ... I'd like to say that, but I can't. From the word go they were dry, starchy, left a claggy texture in your mouth and looked as if they had been sitting out for the better part of an hour. They needed a lot of salt and tomato sauce to bring them back, and even then it wasn't a great experience... Decent sized serving though.
The garden salad was probably the best thing on the table (other than the beers). It was fresh with a heap of dressing (how I like it) and a good range of ingredients hiding under the lettuce leaves. The pot they put it in was quite small and I was done with the salad in probably three forkfuls. The one thing on the plate I would have eaten more of and it was over as soon as it began.
If I had've paid full price for this parma ($26.50) I would be absolutely livid. Anything over $25 is reserved for the best of the best, and the parma at the BBC was nowhere near good enough for that price. For $20 with a pot of Stella? I still wouldn't have it again. There simply isn't enough flavour to justify that price. If it were $15 with a pot then maybe I could forgive its foibles, but not for $20.
The Belgian Beer Cafe is a very cool little spot with a phenomenal range of beers and great atmosphere, the staff were friendly and attentive, and I'd be more than happy to drop back in if I were in the area and check out what's going around on the rotating taps - But when the best part of my meal was the Ben & Jerry's I grabbed at the 7-11 on the way out, that pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the parma.
- The salad was okay
- Great range of beers
- Bland toppings
- Lukewarm schnitzel
- Starchy, unappetising chips
- Miniscule amount of napoli
- Even on special it was overpriced