Ahh Byron, That town that pretends its in Queensland when its really in New South Wales, although you wouldn't know it from looking. Byron Bay is the quintessential Queensland beach town - It's laid back, its chilled, and I'm pretty sure only one in ten residents actually owns a pair of shoes. As is tradition here at ParmaDaze, I took it upon myself to sample as many chicken parmas as the tiny beach town had to offer as I could in the time I was there. After the first day in Byron it struck me that if you aren't a fan of surfing or sitting on the beach then there isn't a whole lot to do other than pull up a pew at a pub and sink some pints in the sun ... Luckily they are more than prepared for this as there is a new pub almost every 100 meters - All three of the parmas I will write about below were consumed on the main street.
PARMA #1 - BYRON BAY SERVICES CLUB
The Byron Bay Services Club was a godsend. Literally next door to where we were staying, for the entire week I was no more than a 60 second walk from their bistro, public bar, pool tables, lounge, kids play area, pokies, outdoor pokies and beer garden. With rooms upon rooms this place was massive, super friendly, inviting, and the first parma we partook in on the trip...
The weakest part of this dish was probably the schnitzel, It was unprocessed but came out quite dry when served. The toppings were spot on though, plenty of cheese grilled to a perfect bubbly golden brown, and plenty of fresh napoli & ham underneath. The chips were pretty standard, not bad but in desperate need for some seasoning.
The coleslaw on the side was super creamy and accompanied the dish well (I'm always a fan of coleslaw with my parma), and really helped to hide the dryness of the schnitzel.
In the time we were in Byron I had this parma twice and it was pretty much identical both times. Worth a visit, especially on parma night when it's an absolute bargain.
PARMA #2 - THE RAILWAY FRIENDLY BAR
As soon as I saw the Railway I fell in love. A small, quaint bar inside is engulfed by a mammoth beer garden with every style of outdoor seating you can imagine. A small container kitchen tacked on to the outside of the pub runs the grub with a strong "food truck" vibe. The menu is simple - Burgers, pub classics and a selection of pasta dishes (interesting for a pub, but not unwelcome!) We ordered the parma and it was delivered to us post-haste...
This parma screamed freshness, the salad especially looked like it had been plucked from the garden moments before hitting the plate. The schnitzel was thick and juicy with a decent coverage of toppings, the napoli being quite flavoursome overpowered a lot of the other elements. The chips were pretty standard, although the dusting of chicken salt was much appreciated.
I'd say the Rails' parma was better than the Services Club's, but only slightly. The beers went down phenomenally as well.
PARMA #3 - THE BEACH HOTEL
The Beach Hotel is the big boy. The Main Event. Boasting stunning beach views it is absolutely massive both inside and out, and in the three or four times we visited over the course of the week (what can I say? I like beers!) I never once saw it quiet.
We ordered the parma, grabbed a pint and sat back in the sun, much like the bar the kitchen was going non stop so I settled in for a bit of a wait, however we didn't wait long as our boomerang buzzer rang no more than ten minutes after placing the order.
It was a weird looking parma, looking closer to a kiev than a schnitzel, but got damn was it full of flavour. Despite being a bit burnt on the underside the chicken remained juicy throughout (a byproduct of not being hammered thin I would imagine) and was surprisingly filling - although that may have been a result of the mountain of super creamy coleslaw the parma arrived alongside... They do seem to like their coleslaw in Byron.
The chips, again, were pretty standard, however the Beach had a full sauce and seasoning station to help bring them back to life a little. Decent parma, great pub.
I won't score these parmas as this is just a special attempt, but if I had to rank them I'd say the Railway delivered the best. Followed closely by the Rails and the Beach bringing up the rear very close behind. None of them were bad by any means and I'd gladly try them all again.
I wasn't quite sure what to expect when we booked the trip to Byron Bay, but I was pleasantly surprised. It's a great little town absolutely teeming with character, I don't want to make this sound like a travel blog but you have the opportunity to visit Byron Bay its definitely worth your time.
Oh, and we also did a brewery tour of Stone & Wood...
It was awesome.