Where? - 157 Moray St. South Melbourne
Price? - $22
Website? - http://www.bellshotel.com.au/
Reviewers – Lee, Nikki, Matt, Stefo
We're stretching our legs this week! After a year of attempts pretty much exclusively North of the CBD we decided it was well past due to mix it up, so we loaded up the parma bus and headed to one of the many pubs on our list in South Melbourne - Bells Hotel.
The Bells is a pub of many personalities. The front bar is airy and light with plenty of space to breathe, The dining area behind it is classy and elegant and the sports bar is a more casual affair with everything you would need for a day on the punt (with a few pokies thrown in for good measure). In preparation for this review we had heard a lot of rumours about the fantastic outdoor courtyard and unmatched rooftop marquee - Unfortunately Melbourne's weather was being a harsh bitch on this particular Thursday evening, so persistent rainfall kept us from checking those areas out ... Will save them for next time.
We started with a pint in the sports bar while waiting for the whole group to arrive, then quickly moved through to the dining room, pulled up a chair and checked the menu...
It's not often we get such a wide variety of options for the base - The eggplant is worth noting for the vegetarians out there. The choice is nice, but being slaves to the almighty chook everyone at the table opted for a chicken parma.
Range of beers on tap was decent, nothing that blew me out of the water in terms of selection The James Squire Swindler Summer Ale did the job just fine.
After a surprisingly short wait (10 minutes at the most) our parmas hit the table...
First up - The Schnitzel. Not winning any "biggest chook on the farm" awards, but big enough to be filling. It was mostly thick, but had been hammered a little shy of too thin in some areas. The crumbs weren't laid on too thick and carried an almighty crunch.
The chicken was pure, stunningly white chicken breast all the way through - It carried a great flavour although was a little on the dry side, and to be honest mine could have been served hotter - But otherwise it was a pretty solid start to the dish.
The toppings that were there were great - Plenty of cheese grilled to bubbly golden brown perfection, along with a rich and flavoursome napoli. However this is a parma devoid of ham. Now our official stance at ParmaDaze is that we are ham agnostic - As we have had many damn good parmas without a piece of pork that have fared just fine, and we don't consider it an absolute essential part of the dish if you do everything else right.
However a slice of ham would have brought this parma to life. Everyone at the table had pretty much the same thought - This was a good parma, but with a bit of pork it would be great.
When I first saw the chips on the plate I thought "ho hum ... standard unseasoned pub chips". Hot diggity I was wrong. I don't know what they seasoned these chips with, but they were absolutely bursting with flavour. Piping hot, crunchy and soft at the same time - I was regretting not ordering a side of gravy for chip dip - but honestly these chips didn't need it. A fantastic surprise.
The salad looked damn impressive. An explosion of colour across the plate served as the side to this parma. Lettuce, cucumber, onion and capsicum - Simple, but effective. The dressing used was delicious but there could have been a little more of it, as some areas of the salad were a little dry.
I'm not sure what got into the other reviewers this week, as they were all damn talkative in their quotes! Lets see what they had to say -
I'd be happy to pay $22 for this parma again. It had its faults, but I walked out satisfied. There is a "$15 mains" specials night on Tuesdays that is definitely worth poking your head into if you're in the area.
I liked Bells. I am keen to come back once the weather clears up and check out the famed rooftop, as if its put together as well as the rest of the pub I'm sure it would be an impressive sight. As I said, the parma isn't perfect, and there's definitely room for improvement - But I walked out with a smile on my face. Decent if you're in the area.
- Tasty chips
- Quality ingredients
- Solid salad
- Spoilt for choice (Chicken, Veal, Pork, Eggplant)
- Needs ham
- Served slightly not hot enough.