Where? - 296 Rae St. Fitzroy North
Price? - $20
Website? - http://www.northfitzroyarms.com.au
Reviewers – Al, Janet, Kim, Lee, Nikki, Pat, Shanan, Stefo
As my odometer clicked over to the big "33" last week, we decided to push our Thursday parma review to Friday, Affording us the ability to kick back and enjoy a few pints in celebration without having to worry about being seedy for work the next day. Our target location for this salubrious event? The much recommended North Fitzroy Arms.
We walked into this quaint backstreets local and after a few minutes of conversation with the review team a question came up ... Why are we reviewing this pub again?
"Again?" I queried ... "What do you mean Again? We've never been here before".
"Yes we have" another reviewer piped up. "We sat in the beer garden out there"
This sparked a long debate as to whether or not we had visited the North Fitzroy Arms already. I searched both the website and my memory ... Have we been here and I've forgotten? I just turned 33, Am I finally losing my mind?
Then it dawned on me. I wasn't here.
When I organised a holiday last year I put one of our review team in charge of writing the review for the week. He organised a session out with the lads and took everyone to the North Fitzroy Arms. Then, lazy prick that he is, never bothered to write the review that accompanied the visit - And thus it was lost to the sands of time.
"Was it any good?" I asked one of the reviewers that had been here on the first visit.
"I can't remember ... I think we had too many beers"
Probably for the best that review never got written.
Once all that nonsense was sorted, I took in my surroundings ... This was a damn nice pub! The quintessential backstreets local. Footy on the TV, Amazingly friendly staff behind the bar, a Friday night meat tray raffle doing the rounds and no less than five seperate fireplaces pumping out the heat, turning this pub into a cosy paradise on a chilly Friday evening.
We grabbed a seat out in the bistro, checked the menu...
... and ordered our meals.
There wasn't a huge array of beers on tap, but they made great use of the taps they had. Ranging from the crafty to the not-so-crafty there'd be something there for everyone's taste, and the chalkboard over the bar with the current offerings on tap listed would lead me to believe they get at least some level of rotation.
After we scoffed off an entree of house made popcorn chicken (delicious), our parmas arrived from the kitchen.
The schnitzel was the definite star of this parma. Big, thick, plump, piping hot, deliciously juicy with a crunchy crumb. Do I need to say more? That's a tick in every box as far as I'm concerned, however I do like my shnitty on the thick side - If you prefer your parma flattened out a little more then this might be bordering on a little too thick for you. In my opinion this was a stellar foundation for a meal.
Compared to the great schnitzel, the toppings were lacklustre. The trinity of napoli, ham and cheese failed to excite on all fronts.
Don't get me wrong, none of them were bad, But the ham (while generous) didn't carry a whole lot of flavour, the cheese needed another few minutes under the grill and the napoli was a bit lost amongst the other two - With such a great foundation in the schnitzel the toppings needed a little extra kick to get them going.
I don't normally do this, but one note on the presentation - I've never been big on the "parma on chips is a cardinal sin!" school of thought. I figure I'd rather have more food on my plate than have less so it all fits, and a seasoned parma eater can extract the chips from underneath before any real damage is done... However when the parma comes out like this:
Part of me has to wonder what's going on. There was almost more empty space on the plate than there was food, and yet they still chose to stack? Such an odd choice. Not to worry though, after a quick extraction the plate looked more like this:
Unfortunately, after extraction, the chips were the weakest part of the dish. Lukewarm, soggy and look as if they'd been sitting for a while. They were edible (especially for those who saved the delicious garlic aoli from their popcorn chicken) but not great by any stretch. Especially when the entree menu has this on the menu-
They have Bad Boys?! A regular reader would know that Bad Boy chips are our absolute favourite. We've stumbled upon them quite a few times over the years and they have always been absolutely phenomenal. Knowing there are Bad Boy chips in the kitchen while we were served what we were just made it all the more disappointing.
The salad was good. Fresh and crisp with just enough balsamic for the serving size. A fine addition to the meal.
Enough of my blathering, lets see what everyone else thought (hopefully they remember eating it this time!)...
$20 in this day and age is cheap for a parma, and even though this one had its failings I'd be happy to pay it again. I may have had a bit of a whinge about this parma but it comes from a place of love as I really enjoyed this pub and the people in it.
It's times like this I kick myself that we don't get a score for the venue itself, as this pub would get top marks - definitely one of my favourite pubs that I've visited all year. The quotes from everyone else echo my opinion that this parma had a great foundation but was let down by some disappointing sides.
With a few tweaks this could be a phenomenal bird. Spice up the toppings a little, stop hoarding the bad boys and we would be in business! My complaints aside It's definitely a venue worth checking out, If you live locally and have yet to try the North Fitzroy Arms you are definitely missing out on your home away from home.
- Fantastic pub, possibly the best venue we've been to this year
- Top notch schnitzel, very hard to fault
- Disappointing sides
- Toppings needed more flavour