Where? - 406 Napier St. Fitzroy
Price? - $25
Website? - http://www.therosefitzroy.com.au/
Reviewers – Lee, Matt & Nikki
Before we get into this I feel like I need to make some things clear from the jump - Mainly that I am not a Fitzroy local. Before last night the only other time I have been to the Rose was for our first review in 2010, so beyond my thoughts at the time of "This is a lovely little pub" The pre-renovation Rose holds no sentimental place in my heart - So I'm hoping to approach this as a bit of an unbiased, outside observer.
If you have no idea what we're talking about, there is currently a bit of hubbub around the interwebs in regards to the Rose, somehow it has inadvertently become the poster child for "Local backstreets pub bought out and stripped of its soul". It's no secret that I love a backstreets local, and the Rose was well overdue for a redo, so we loaded up the parma bus and headed to Fitzroy to check out the new and (possibly) improved Rose Hotel.
We pulled up at the Rose and noticed quite a few people gathered by the outdoor tables enjoying a beer - It would seem the negativity towards the rennos aren't affecting business as this place was packed. Almost every table in the front room was taken, we managed to snag a high table by the bar in the middle of the action (after ordering we discovered that there was a much quieter dining area out the back with plenty of space, but the atmosphere is much better up front).
Yep, this place is virtually unrecognisable from the pub we wandered into six years ago. Gone is the dark, dank pub and in its place is a light, airy and open watering hole. It would seem the years of memorabilia that had built up on the walls of the old Rose has been distilled into a "best of", with a lot of the footy jumpers and such still remaining. If you were a local of the Rose I could understand your hesitance ... this is not the Rose of old, this is Rose 2.0.
As I said we grabbed a table and checked the menu, the list of mains at the Rose has been streamlined to just 6 options, but to be honest I don't think you could want for anything more...
In 2010 the parma clocked in at $13. Six years later and there has been a $12 price hike to $25, which (it's sad to say) isn't out of the ordinary these days. Inflation is a bitch, especially if you're (hopefully) taking a leap in quality of ingredients.
As for beers I was set as soon as I saw Stone & Wood on tap, but there are plenty of options for the craft and non-craft lover alike, before ordering your pint do yourself a favour and run a lap of the bar to get a look at all the different taps on offer.
About 15 minutes after placing our orders the parmas arrived from the kitchen. As is tradition with Redo week, first we'll look at the 2010 Rose Hotel parma, and then at the 2016 entry...
Gone is the processed, heart shaped, oversized chicken nugget and in its place is a thick, plump and extremely juicy chicken breast. The black ring of ash is gone and in its place is a conservatively crumbed, well cooked hunk of chicken. What it lacks in circumference it makes up for in thickness, swelling out to well over an inch thick in parts, a major improvement over the 2010 version.
The toppings are where things get interesting, and a little contentious. The napoli was fresh, chunky and flavoursome (although I could have used a little more of it), the cheese was plentiful and well grilled, although not too noteworthy... The ham is where things get a bit interesting.
We have never had ham like this on a parma before, it had a wholly unique flavour that we have never come across in the past, and horribly hard to describe. It was extremely salty, and tasted almost brined - not unlike corned beef. I likened it to a pastrami, however my companions at the table did not completely agree with me. Whatever it was it was an absolute punch of flavour. I enjoyed it thoroughly, as did one of my fellow reviewers ... However Reviewer No. 3 was not as big of a fan, wishing they had just gone with a standard ham instead. It's a divisive ingredient and I'd say its down to personal preference as to whether or not its your thing.
Now on to the chips. A big serving of french fries served beside the parma. They were well seasoned and hot when they arrived, however unless fries (aka Macca's chips) are served absolutely perfectly they go downhill extremely fast, which these did. By the time I finished my parma and got to the fries they were cold, hard and not nearly as enjoyable as if they had've had a good quality steak chip. They weren't horribly bad, but after a pretty damn good parma they were a wholly "meh" addition
The salad landed pretty much in the exact same boat as the chips, just uninspired. A plate of nothing but rocket leaves with minimal dressing. They were fresh and crisp, but nothing more.
The $12 price hike since 2010 is substantial, but when you're taking such a drastic leap in quality of ingredients then it is to be expected. $25 for the bird we got is pushing it a little, but if I were to find myself at the Rose again I'd have no qualms shelling out another 25 clams. There is no mention of any discount parma night that I am aware of.
Hopefully it won't be another six years before I visit the Rose again. The parma is not without it's faults, but overall it was a solid meal in an enjoyable atmosphere. I encourage the haters online to go and visit with an open mind and don't decide that you hate the place before walking through the door. Sure it has definitely lost a bit of its old world charm, but it's still a down to earth (albeit modernised) pub with friendly staff, decent food and plenty to offer.
- Light years ahead of its 2010 counterpart
- Quality chicken breast
- Unique, flavoursome ham (although may be considered a con to some)
- Lackluster sides
- A bit pricey