When? - 19th of November, 2015
Where? - 9/12 Star Circus, Docklands
Price? - $24 Traditional, $26 Hawaiian
Website? - http://www.harbourtownhotel.com.au/
Reviewers – Lee, Matt, Nikki, Stefo
UPDATE 02/11/18 - HARBOUR TOWN IS NO MORE! AND IN ITS PLACE IS URBAN ALLEY BREWERY - WHICH WE HAVE ALSO REVIEWED. NEW REVIEW IS HERE!
I've had the Harbour Town Hotel on the list for a couple of years now, yet it has kind've just sat there, constantly overlooked for a different option as I find it hard to build up the motivation to actually go to that area Docklands. That whole area just has a vibe of depression and desperation that's hard to lift. But at the same time I felt that the Harbour Town had some potential, every time I have been past the place has been packed, granted it was always either before or after an AIHL Ice Hockey game at the adjacent Icehouse, but surely all those people can't be wrong, So last night I decided that we need to find out, once and for all, what the Harbour Town Hotel has to offer.
The Harbour Town Hotel is in the shadow (both literally and figuratively) of one of Melbourne's biggest wastes of time and money - The Southern Star (That thing with the cool lights you see when driving over the Bolte), So close in fact that you could see the deserted box office from where we ate our parmas. We arrived at the pub just before 7 and walked in to find the place absolutely deserted. We grabbed a table, some pints of Blue Moon and took a seat.
The Harbour Town is actually a decent looking pub, absolutely massive with a large decked area for beers in the sun and even a pool table around the back, something rarely seen in this day and age. As I said I've seen this pub busy, and when it is it has a great atmosphere. When its quiet? Not so much. The sheer size of the place just made it feel more empty, not to mention a musty smell of what seemed like old potatoes didn't help matters much either.
For the curious we sat beside those orange circles on the left that look like Jupiter
Beers in hand we checked the menu -
And placed the order, with reviewers Nikki and myself springing an extra $1 for a side of gravy with out parmas for chip-dipping purposes.
The beer list at the Harbour Town is okay -
Nothing that will blow your socks off, but as a perpetual Blue Moon fan I was satisfied, although the pints we were poured were a touch too warm for my liking, and missing the trademark slice of orange - Weird for a pub that seems to hold Blue Moon in a very high regard.
Before we could get halfway through our pints the parmas hit the table...
No hiding it, the "schnitzel" on this parma was straight up, heart shaped, processed to the max, out of the packet, oversized chicken nugget.
Need I say more? For the past few weeks I had retired the "cross section" image (I had a bit of a crisis when I considered that maybe people don't want to see photos of my half eaten food) but I'm bringing it back for this one, so you can see the horrid crumb-to-chicken ratio...
The toppings were actually decent, and put in their best efforts to bring this parma back from the brink of absolute crappiness. The cheese was a good blend of tasty and mozzarella, good coverage and grilled to a perfect golden brown and they weren't at all tight with the lashings of ham.
The napoli tasted a bit canned and had a slight metallic aftertaste, but it had some flavour and added to the dish - Had these toppings been on a chicken breast that wasn't one of the worst things I've seen in my life there may have been some hope for it.
The chips were pretty run of the mill. Completely unseasoned and sandwiched under the parma. They were well cooked but didn't have a lot of flavour - I'm just glad Nikki and I shelled out the extra $1 for some gravy for chip-dippage, as that helped them quite a bit. If you find yourself at the Harbour Town I recommend doing the same.
The salad was akin to the chips - Not bad, but not great either. Well dressed and fresh with plenty of onion, cucumber and tomato. If fulfilled its purpose without offending too much.
$24 for this parma is utterly outrageous, no question. The Harbour Town runs a $15 Parma Monday, and even that is a bit pricey in my opinion. To me this is a $10 parma, Maybe $15 if you threw in a free pint ... $24 is simply laughable for a processed schnitz.
In short my thoughts on the parma at the Harbour Town are the same to my thoughts on the Southern Star - A waste of time and money. If you're at the Icehouse next hockey season by all means stop in at the Harbour Town for some pre-game beers (hopefully they remember to serve Blue Moon with orange by then), otherwise steer clear. I know there aren't many other options nearby if you're feeling like a parma but as Reviewer Stefo said in his quote you're probably better off saving your cash for an extra pint and going to the KFC next door instead.
Toppings did their best to bring a horrible schnitzel to life
Schnitzel was the epitome of processed
$24 for a schnitzel that was the epitome of processed.