When? - 16th of August, 2013
Where? - Browns Corner Hotel. Corner Sydney Rd. & Bell St, Coburg
Price? - $22 (see review for clarification)
Website? - http://www.brownscornerhotel.com.au/
Reviewers – Dale, Fridge, Janet, Kylie, Lee, Nikki, Tony, Shanan, Stefo
UPDATE - 19/10/18 - WE REVISITED BROWNS 5 YEARS LATER TO SEE IF THE PARMA HAD IMPROVED. CHECK OUT THE NEW REVIEW HERE!
After a 3 week break from the hunt for the perfect parma I was absolutely hanging to get out to the pub last night, there was no Facebook poll the week before so Browns Corner Hotel was picked purely out of proximity from everyone's houses - Didn't really want to dive into a long hike the first week back, and being on the corner of Bell St and Sydney Rd its a pub I've passed quite a few times and always been curious about.
When it comes to different prices for the same parma I think Browns takes the cake, It wasn't until we took a seat in the Bistro that we noticed this, but Browns has quite a few different charges for their parmage. $22 in the bistro, $18 in the sports bar, $14 in the sports bar on Thursdays (the night we were there) and a $10 parma night on Monday night - We have found a few pubs that puts out a sub-par parma in the sports bar/cheaper areas, so we decided to spend the extra few bucks and eat in the bistro just in case - I really wanted a good parma this week.
The pub itself is pretty standard 'family pub' fare. Main bar, Bistro, Beer Garden and small Pokies area. The Main bar looked spacious and inviting, with a few pool tables for entertainment (as well as a QuizMeisters Trivia running on Thursday night that we didn't partake in). Not much creativity in the way of beers on tap. Carlton Draught, Pure Blonde, Bulmers, VB. The usual suspects.
Checked the bistro menu to confirm...
And placed our order at the Bistro, also going for an entree of bruscetta as a bit of a pre-game... Although I don't think you can actually call it an "entree" when it arrives at the same time as the nine parmas we ordered (it actually arrived between parmas 6 and 7)
My heart sank. I was hanging for a good parma this week and from first glance this wasn't it. My parma (pictured above) had more cheese than the others, some having what looked like a poker-chip sized dollop in the middle of a splash of napoli.
They used real chicken in the schnitzel, it was a good thickness and conservatively crumbed - but thats where the positives end.
Somehow, despite a lot of nudity, The schnitz remained soggy and was very undercooked - bearing the colouring of a piece of grilled fish, yet was still rather dry. Light on the toppings, what was there was so bland I think a coaster would have carried more flavour. The cheese, the ham and the napoli were all a non-event. Even the single basil leaf I found underneath my ham did very little to add any flavour at all. I think everyone at the table reached for the salt and pepper shakers in a vain attempt to bring this bird back to life.
Worst of all, it was cold. I'd say lukewarm at best - Our table in the bistro was right in front of the kitchen and I could see our parmas sitting under the heat lamps for quite a few minutes before being brought to our table - yet somehow it still remained tepid. Very disappointing for the first parma back.
The chips were actually quite good, probably the saving grace of the whole meal. Beer battered, golden brown and crunchy. A little under seasoned but not criminally so, If they had've been beside a better parma they would have been a fine accompaniment to the dish - however when your chips are the best thing on the plate you know something has gone horribly wrong.
The salad, Like the parma, was boring. Garden salad with lettuce, cucumber, tomato and a splash of balsamic that was partially killed from its time under the heat lamps . Normally when I've got a flavourless parma I can pick some onion out of the salad and put it on the parma to give it a bit of a kick (there's a life-trick for you!) but in this case the salad wasn't even good for that.
For $22 I feel ripped off. If the parma had've been the same in the sports bar for $14 I still would be disappointed, but not as angry. The parma we received would have been passable for $10 parma Monday, but just barely (a free pot would help). If Browns wants to charge $22 for a chicken parma they've really got to lift their game.
The parma at Browns Corner Hotel is a bland, dry, expensive, lukewarm mess (I was going to call it a "hot mess" but that almost seems like a compliment). It pains me to see a quality piece of schnitzel destroyed like that - So much potential wasted. It would take a lot of convincing to get me to go back there again, especially with so many other outstanding options on Sydney Road - Its not often that I expressly say not to go to a pub for a parma, but its definitely safe to give this one a miss.