Where - 172 York St. South Melbourne
Price - $26
Website - https://thealbion.bar
Reviewers – Lee, Nikki & Stefo
Its a bit of a weird sentence, but we’ve now been to a few Albion’s in our time. First there was the Hotel Albion in Port Melbourne (which we returned to for the Man Vs. Parma Challenge) as well as the Albion in North Melbourne - All fine examples of a parma, but just in case having a Hotel Albion and an Albion Hotel in the same city wasn’t confusing enough, South Melbourne is now home to The Albion (Which I’ll refer to as the Albion Rooftop, for the sake of everyone’s mental health).
Situated directly across the road from the South Melbourne Market, the more seasoned drinkers amongst us may remember the building as “Motel”, a Melbourne nightclub that tore it up in the late nineties/early noughties, and while The Albion Rooftop is still a nightclub when the sun goes down, there is still a cheeky lunch and dinner menu available for when things are a little quieter.
When the pub first opened (last year some time I believe? There were some delays after a fire during construction) I checked the menu and there was no parma in sight, it seemed like they were going for a more “gastro” vibe and the parma had gotten the flick. Well luckily they have come to their senses, as it was recently brought to our attention that a parma had finally been added to the Albion Rooftop’s menu.
I like parmas, I like drinking in high places, seems like somewhere to check out!
For the Collingwood supporters out there this is the pub owned in part by former player Dane Swan, and rumour has it he, and a few other AFL footballers, like to stop in for a pint every now and then - Unfortunately there weren’t any out for a beer while we reviewed the parma last night.
We ascended the stairs up to the rooftop, grabbed a seat in the relatively-busy-for-a-Thursday-night pub and checked the menu…
It’s a bit hard to pin down the vibe that the Albion Rooftop is going for. It feels a lot like a nightclub, but not quite (I think its the booths pictured above that don’t feel very “clubby” to me). It’s not quite a gastropub, but definitely not a quiet local and even though there are TV’s playing sports I wouldn’t call it a sports bar. It’s an enigmatic spot that I have trouble getting a read on if I enjoy it or not. The views are nice, though, can’t fault that.
As far as tap beers go its hard to miss the massive copper tanks of unpasteurised Carlton Draught looming over the bar, other than that there’s Great Northern, Pure Blonde, 4 Pines, Wild Yak, Stella Artois, Bonamy’s Cider, Brookvale Union Ginger Beer and, oddly enough, Lexington Hill Espresso Martinis. Not the greatest selection to be honest and for a pub with a fitout as nice as The Albion Rooftop has, I would have expected a bit more variety of beers on tap. There are some more options in bottle (4 Pines, Stone & Wood, Budweiser to name a couple) but not a whole lot.
After a wait of about 20 minutes, our parmas arrived at the table…
First thing’s first, the schnitzel wasn’t fantastic. A relatively small piece of rather dense chicken with crumbing that screams “processed schnitzel”. It was cooked okay, a little dry and slightly burnt on the edges but no hellworthy sins here. The chicken breast was white and thick enough even though the crumbing joined it in the slightly-too-thick territory. Not winning any awards, but an acceptable foundation.
The toppings were a bit underwhelming overall. The cheese was fine, could have used a bit more coverage as there were a lot of nude spots. The slice of ham was mostly undetectable, as was the Napoli sauce, which had mostly absorbed into the crumbs by the time the parma was served.
Let me be clear, there was nothing wrong with the parma at the Albion Rooftop, all of the elements were there, cooked well and there was nothing too offensive about the dish ... There was just no love there.
I love a chunky chip, and the chips (sliced potato chunks?) that accompanied the Albion Rooftop’s parma was no exception. When chips get as big as they are here they always run the risk of getting a bit starchy and claggy, but these managed to be big while remaining fluffy and light on the inside, and the pot of sauce included on the side was a nice touch. My only complaint is that there weren’t nearly enough of them, I could’ve had another full serving and been extremely happy.
The salad was weak - It reminded me of the packaged salad you’d buy in a bag from Coles just dumped on the place with minimal effort. The dressing tasted watered down and flavourless. It was fresh, but added nothing to the dish. A nice coleslaw would have suited this parma much better.
The Albion Rooftop’s parma is a sports bar parma at a gastropub price. $26 is just too much for what we received. I may be coming off a little bit harsh, it was fine , but this is a $20 parma at best. No parma nights on the menu that I’m aware of at this stage.
This feels like a parma that was put on the menu out of obligation, as they didn’t want to do a parma but enough people asked for one that they caved and slapped this together. All of the other food coming out of the kitchen looked like it had a bit of love put into it, yet the parma reeks of low effort, something slapped together to keep the masses happy.
As much as I have trouble putting my finger on the vibe of the Albion Rooftop I did enjoy the scenery, its an expertly crafted pub that I’d be happy to while away an afternoon in. I think they’ve got the ability to make a great parma, but are just choosing to phone it in at the moment, which is a shame as its a pretty cool spot.