Where? - 425 Church St. Richmond
Price? - $19, $21 with the addition of ham
Website? - http://theswan.com.au/
Reviewers – Grace, Lee, Matt, Nikki, Stefo, Tony
There are quite a few pubs on Swan Street, and quite a few parmas. We've hit a couple already (The Precinct, The Corner, The Richmond Club Hotel and The Rising Sun), but we have yet to find one that has blown us out of the water - Swan Street parmas have typically straddled the line between "meh" and "not bad", so when I received yet another recommendation to give the Swan Hotel a crack I wondered ... Could this be the one?
On arrival the pub was already pumping with diners, but parmas did not seem to be the hot ticket for the night - On Thursday nights at the Swan the steak is king, offering a (quite decent looking) cut of beef for $12.
I stuck my head out the back and was very impressed with the beer garden - With a much more modern vibe than the pub itself I could see it as the perfect place for a lazy feed and Sunday sippers on a warm summer afternoon.
We secured our table, checked the menu and was met with a choice...
The parma at the Swan does not come with ham as standard, there's a $2 surcharge if you want to get some pork on your fork. I've been asked this question a lot and I firmly stand in the opinion that a Parma doesn't need ham if the other elements are outstanding enough that the extra flavour isn't needed ... But I'm not gonna take that gamble on an unknown parma. Getting ham on the parma was an absolute no-brainer and out of the 6 people at tonight's review not one went without opting in.
We placed our orders at the bar, the bartender commenting "You guys know it's steak night, right?"
The beer list had all the standards, Nothing overly adventurous, but enough to satisfy most punters. To be honest everything else went blurry once I saw they had Stone & Wood on tap.
I'm going to preface the comments in the following couple of paragraphs by saying that opinion on this parma was controversial to say the least. Thoughts seemed to be split down the middle amongst the table as to whether it was good or not. I enjoyed it, but I'll try to make sure all opinions are heard.
The schnitzel was great quality. A little smaller than some would like, but it had enough thickness to be a solid meal. Pure white chicken breast throughout, could have been a little juicier, but by no means dry. The crumbs were applied conservatively - nice and crispy on the sides but carrying a slight hint of sogginess on the bottom/under the toppings.
Quite a good foundation for the meal.
The toppings were quite tasty - the Napoli was fresh (some detected a slight "tinny" flavour that I didn't get at all) and applied liberally. The ham was a welcome addition, while the parma was pretty good it definitely needed the ham to carry it over the line. I detected a slight smokiness that I considered quite pleasant, but some of the others at the table said that it "tasted burnt" ... each to their own I guess!
The cheese blend was the star. Full of flavour, plenty of it and grilled to (what I consider to be) bubbly golden brown perfection, I even loved the shards of crispy cheese from where the blend had dripped onto the fry pan.
The chips were an absolute triumph. Served seperate from the Parma, they were beer battered, perfectly cooked, well seasoned, hot and fresh. As it was the aforementioned steak night there was a bit of a "serve your own sauce bar" set up on one side of the bar with three types of mustard, tomato sauce and garlic aioli ... What more could a guy want? Our only criticism for the chips would be that there just weren't enough of them. It was about half a handful shy of being a satisfying side.
The garden salad was probably the weakest part of the dish. Not terrible, but just a wilted, oily afterthought. Not a lot of flavour and definitely nothing to write home about
I think the Swan should ditch the option of the $19 Ham-less parma and just go the whole hog for $21. $21 isn't that expensive for what we received, and the ham was definitely a great addition to the dish.
As far as parma specials go at the Swan, they have a Wednesday "Parmageddon" which is very enticing - $12 with a bunch of novelty varieties. A perfect time to go and dip your feet in if you're on the fence about this one.
Despite some mixed opinions on this parma I walked out satisfied, and I think pretty much everyone else did - The argument was by no means between "Good" or "Bad", it was more between "Good" or "Great". By no means the best parma we've had - but the best we've had in Swan Street? I think so (so far, at least)
- Quality chicken breast with a delicious cheese blend
- Great chips
- Ham should be standard, not a $2 surcharge
- Lackluster salad
- Not enough chips