Where? - 709 High St. Armadale
Price? - $18
Website? - http://www.theorronghotel.com.au/
Reviewers – Daniel, Ella, Katie, Lee, Nikki, Ryan & Stefo
It has been brought to my attention lately that we have been (unintentionally) ignoring the Eastern Suburbs a bit lately. For the record I've got nothing against the East side, but needing to power through peak hour traffic on a Thursday night when all I want to do is get a parma and some beers inside me isn't always super appealing. I know, I know, that isn't fair those on the other side of the Yarra, so in an effort to rectify our laziness we are going to do our best to get to the East side a little more often.
I asked around on Reddit last week for suggestions of East-side pubs worth hitting. We got a few suggestions but the one that stuck out in particular was the Orrong Hotel, from a cursory Google it looked like an old school, down to earth pub. We set the date, grabbed our passports and rode the parma bus through the Burnley tunnel to Armadale's Orrong Hotel.
The vibe I got from my internet searches was right - The Orrong is a pub dripping with class and old school cool. The front bar feels like your Dad's local watering hole while the back area opens up into a very swanky bistro, and I think I even spied a little courtyard action out past the dart boards (oh yeah, they have dart boards too).
There's a fantastic fireplace as you enter the bistro (pictured above) however we had to visit on the first day in 7 months that was over 30 degrees, so luckily it wasn't lit or we would have been sweating more than a chip under a hot schnitzel.
We took a seat in the Bistro (there were also seating options in the front bar but it was already pretty busy when we arrived just before seven) and checked the menu. After confirming the parma was on the menu -
Our eyes wandered to the other options. The Orrong is definitely shooting for the Gastropub market with a selection of delectable sounding 60 and 90 days aged Gippsland steaks, there are even garlic snails on the entree menu for those feeling adventurous.
The tap list is solid. Running the full gamut from basic to craft beers. A pint of Stone & Wood fetched $11, pretty standard and freaking delicious. (I just realised that I might mention Stone & Wood a little too much on this website. We don't have any sort of pay-per-mention deal going I swear ... It's just a delicious beer).
While waiting for our food to be cooked we spied a few parmas coming out of the kitchen. They looked good! Hopes were high this was gonna be a quality parma. About 20 minutes after placing the order a glorious "ding" rang from the kitchen and our parmas started to appear -
On first glance they looked great. My parma wasn't grilled quite as golden brown as the others around the table, but I think I may have hit the sweet spot while the others were a tad overdone. I picked up the very heavy (and impressive) steak knife that seem to be standard cutlery at the Orrong and tucked in.
Everyone at the table knew it at first bite - This was a store bought schnitzel. It was thick, but a fair bit of that was the crumbing. Standard processed schnitzel criticisms to follow - Dense, dry, with a shell of doughy thick crumbing. What a shame.
Despite the unappealing schnitzel the toppings did their best. There was plenty of cheese and flavoursome napoli throughout - The ham was a little lost to the point where I had to check if it was there, but otherwise points to the toppings for trying their hardest to save this dish.
All up the parma has so much potential. I really wanted to like the Orrong as it seemed like a great pub and I was shocked as it didn't seem like the kind of place that would cheap out on the schnitzel.
The chips weren't great either. Totally unseasoned, quite starchy and felt as if they had been sitting for a while - Although the staff did offer tomato sauce pots to the table unsolicited, which is always a bonus.
The salad was pretty good. Ingredients were fresh and there was plenty of variety, however I felt it was all chopped quite finely, which made it difficult to eat without scooping up the lil' bits using your fork as a spoon. The choice of dressing got mixed reviews - I didn't mind it, but it wasn't popular with everyone around the table.
Value is always tough to judge on a parma like this. I'd consider $18 on the cheap side of things in this day and age, however if they had've used a real chicken breast I would have happily paid $22-$24 for this parma no questions asked. Our rule of thumb for value has always been "Would I pay the price I paid again to have this parma again" and I've got to say, even though it's cheap, I wouldn't be rushing back.
I'm quite upset that I had to post a negative review about the Orrong as I had high hopes that this was going to be a good one. They need to change one element on the plate to make this a parma worth trying - Get rid of the store bought schnitzel (and maybe the chips, but they aren't as important). It was a cool pub with super friendly staff and some great looking steaks and burgers coming out of the kitchen. If you're in the area definitely drop in for a beer and a feed, but just I can't recommend the parma in its current state.