Where? - The Block Arcade, 290 Collins St. Melbourne CBD
Price? - $23.60
Website? - http://www.charlesdickenstavern.com/
Reviewers – Lee & Nikki
If you asked someone to meet you at the pub on the corner of Collins and Elizabeth street you'd probably get a confused look coupled with a query of "umm, isn't that an Optus store?". Well yes, but what you might not know is that under the feet of the consumers working out if the new iPhone is too big to fit into the pockets of their skinny jeans, is one of my all time favourite pubs in Melbourne. The Charles Dickens Tavern.
The Dickens is a pub out of place and out of time. Once you descend the stairs in the Block Arcade you will come to a heavy, wooden, leadlight laden door, and once you open it say goodbye to Melbourne as you are stepping into one of the most authentic English pubs in the state. Stand at the bar at the Charles Dickens and you can easily forget you're in Australia, and if it weren't for the 60 inch LED flatscreens and signs promoting the free WiFi you could even get the sense that you're grabbing a pint in the early 1900's
The Dickens is divided into two halves. The public bar and the "Pickwick Room", which is basically their bistro - The menu is a tad fancier in there, but the bar menu is also available if you feel like it. It wasn't overly busy when we arrived so we pulled up a pew in the public bar and grabbed a menu...
Take note of the fine print there - chips or salad or vegetables. We ordered our parmas, weren't asked any followup questions, and took our seats.
Beer selection at the Dickens is pure British pub fare. Tetley's Bitter, Newcastle Brown Ale, London Pride, as well as a selection of ciders, ginger beers and even good ol' Cartlon Draught if you aren't feeling too adventurous.
About 25 minutes after ordering our meals arrived...
After rescuing the parma from atop the pile of chips we tucked in. The schnitzel was big enough, but nothing to write home about. Inoffensive thickness and well crumbed/cooked.
The chicken breast was pure and unprocessed, slightly dry but not horribly so - Possibly the weakest element on the plate, but by no means bad ... just not that notable.
If you're a fan of cheese then you'll be a fan of the parma at the Dickens. This thing was bordering on more cheese than chicken. Absolutely smothered in the stuff and grilled to golden brown perfection, these toppings were an absolute cheesy delight.
The napoli was a little lacking, it was there, but up against the sheer wall of cheese it was kind've lost in the crowd, the same goes for the ham, when I have to check if there is both napoli and ham on the parma you know that the ratio's are a little off.
Chips were your standard pub steak fries. Well cooked and plenty of them (no salad means more room for chips I suppose). As soon as our parmas hit the table we were offered a bottle of tomato sauce for dipping - always a well received touch. A solid side but again, nothing to write home about.
As predicted in the menu the parma at the Dickens comes with the choice of chips or salad or veggies. As much as I love a good salad I'm not giving up my chippies in favour of them, so we're invoking the You don't win friends with salad rule for this review.
A little over $23 for this parma? If it had been served with salad I would have been a little happier - but as it isn't the value score is gonna take a definite hit. It wasn't bad by any shot - but I won't be running out to have this one at full price again. There is a Monday night $20 parma and pot special that I would recommend hitting if you're at all curious, but I would be hesitant to hit it again at full price.
You should go to the Charles Dickens Tavern, its one of Melbourne's most unique pubs and it absolutely tears me apart to give this parma a less than glowing review. It's a fantastic little watering hole with unmatched atmosphere that pours a mean pint and I'll be back down those stairs very soon, I wont be rushing back for the parma though.
- Amazing pub
- Great range of English beers
- A cheese lovers parma
- Chips OR Salad
- Other toppings lost amongst the cheese