Where? - 41 Spensley St. Clifton Hill
Price? - $20
Website? - http://www.royalhotelcliftonhill.com.au/
Reviewers – Lee, Matt, Nikki, Stefo
The Clifton Hill Royal Hotel was the cover-parma for the Herald Sun's recent list of Victoria's 25 best parmas, and after a couple of attempts earlier this year, the last of the (now infamous) list that we had yet to review - So for the sake of completion we loaded up the parma bus and headed to the 151st Pokemon of a parma that is the Royal Hotel.
On paper the Royal Hotel ticks every box of what I like in a pub. A hidden away backstreets local. A fireplace to warm up by, plenty of different nooks and areas to get lost in, pool tables, a solid craft beer list and (hopefully) some good grub.
Photo nicked from The Royal Hotel's website.
In person the Royal delivers on its promise. Upon entry you're greeted by an airy (yet warm) front bar bustling with activity. There are tables scattered around for those after a feed and plenty of stools at the bar for those looking to pull up a pew. Beyond that is a dim and cosy cocktail lounge, with a more comfortable "chill out" vibe and beyond that again is an elegant dining room (with a touch of country pub flair). There's also a sunny atrium and a walk-in bottle shop to grab a traveller on the way home. Quite possibly the perfect local pub.
We were lucky enough to grab a table in the busy front bar, grabbed a menu and spied our target...
Its worth noting that the bistro out the back has a different menu to the front bar - As far as I can tell the parmas are only available on the more casual dining focussed bar menu.
As I mentioned, the Royal is no slouch when it comes to their beer selection, with taps running the entire gamut of tastes, and an impressive selection of bottled beers if you can't find what you're after in the kegs. Too many to list, you'd better go and check it out for yourself.
About 30 minutes after ordering our meals arrived from the kitchen -
It may not look it from the photos, but this was an impressive schnitzel. An intimidatingly thick slab of pure white chicken breast, lightly panko crumbed and fried. My only criticism for the schnitzel was that it lacked the trademark crunch of a panko crumbed schnitzel, and wound up a tad soggy. Other than that this was a great bird, and a fantastic foundation for the toppings.
The toppings were probably the weakest element on the plate - but by no means a deal breaker. The main focus of criticism around the table was the napoli. There was heaps of it... too much, and unfortunately it tasted like straight-from-the-bottle tomato passata.
The other toppings were quality - plenty of tasty, gooey cheese and not at all tight on the ham ... If they just eased off the napoli a little (maybe swap it out for a chunky home made variety) and this parma would be a tick in every box.
The hand cut chips were delightful. Cooked to pillowy perfection, well seasoned and astonishingly filling. A fine addition to the plate.
The coleslaw was creamy, tasty and not in short supply at all. A little rich when trying to eat it straight, but an absolute winner when combined with a fork-full of parma.
For a $20 feed I was groaning in contentment when I finished. The massive chicken combined with the super-filling hand cut chips and coleslaw, I guarantee you're not walking away from this bird hungry. The aforementioned Herald Sun review of the Royal called it "Peerless for the price" and I am inclined to agree (Probably the only thing in that article that I do agree with). Zero qualms shelling out another $20 for this meal ... A total bargain, pure and simple.
The Royal Hotel is a tick in every box for me. Great pub, great beers great grub. If I didn't live a half-hour drive from Clifton Hill I'd happily call this my local - Parma was good, a few minor tweaks from great, but definitely one worth checking out.
- Quality ingredients
- Absolute bargain
- Great hand cut chips
- Soggy crumbs
- Too much napoli