Where - 816 High St. Thornbury
Price - $18 for regular, $20 for mexican
Website - http://www.bartonfink.com.au
Reviewers – Fridge, Lee, Nikki, Stefo
Named after a 1991 Coen Brothers movie, High Street's Barton Fink instantly struck me as a cool little pub I could waste away hours in.
I normally try and start these reviews with an interesting story of how this pub came to be on our radar, but to be honest this week it was a case of "What haven't we tried around Thornbury", followed by a little bit of Google-fu. I picked it because it didn't strike me as the kind of bar that would serve a parma. From the aesthetic of the place it seemed more like the kind of pub that would serve dip platters and toasties - I mean, they do have both of those on the menu, but seeing a parma was a surprise.
I expected Barton Fink to be a little hole-in-the-wall, but it was surprisingly spacious inside. Plenty of tables if you want to sit in and enjoy the live music, and opening out to an unexpectedly nice beer garden out the back.
We snagged a table and checked the menu. I wasn't expecting options ... There were options.
I'm not normally one to go with the novelty toppings, but I am a sucker for a good Mexican parma. We split the load and got two of each.
Also worth noting that while the menu says its an extra $1 to add ham on the classic parma, we were told that the menu is soon to be updated with the surcharge removed.
We started with a serve of onion rings to whet our appetites. Quite good. I had never had onion rings with sweet chilli sauce before but the flavours worked well together. A good start so far!
Quality beers on tap. Steam Ale & Two Birds to name a couple, with Hawke's available in cans from the fridge (among other things). Plenty to choose from.
Before we get to the parmas I want to apologise for the photo quality this week - Barton Fink was rather dark inside and didn't lend itself to the fine art of parma photography. I cranked up the brightness in post as much as I could in an effort to save them, but I freely admit they aren't my best work.
Getting the worst out of the way up front - the schnitzel was probably the most disappointing element of the dish. As you can see from the photos below the crumbs were quite thick and the chicken inside seemed to have shrunk in the cooking process, leaving a loose shell of crumbs around the chicken inside. It was a little dry and flavourless. As far as foundations go this one started off quite shaky.
Luckily, for the Mexican at least, the toppings did their absolute darnedest to save it. Completely smothered in sour cream, salsa, guacamole and spicy jalapeños, the mountain of stuff atop my parma brought it back from the brink ... If anything I'd say it was bordering on topping overload.
Close call, Barton Fink ... Close call.
I've been on the fence about putting this in the review, but in the interest of full disclosure I'll cover it quickly - There was a bit of a snafu in the kitchen when we ate at Barton Fink. Nothing major, but one of the classic parmas came out with sour cream on it as if it had been half prepped as a Mexican. Props to the staff however, when we brought it to their attention they replaced it ASAP, apologised profusely and even threw in a free cocktail for the wait. Mistakes happen, but the staff's response in handling it was all class.
Anyway, on to the sides.
The serving of chips was absolutely massive. Served hot and liberally seasoned with chicken salt. We don't get chicken salt often, but it was a more than welcome change. A fine side to the dish.
The garden salad was simple. Crisp, flavoursome and heavy on the red onion just how I like it. I don't have too much else to say about it other than that... Yep! It was a good one!
The ingredients to the Barton Fink parma weren't of the highest quality, but I'll be damned if they didn't use every available square inch of plate space. Nobody walked away from the table hungry as all the servings on the plate were more than generous. $18 for the regular and $20 for the Mexican is pretty good considering the sheer amount of food delivered, however I'd rather chip an extra few bucks their way to up the quality of the schnitzel used as a foundation.
I liked Barton Fink. It was a very cool little bar that I'd happily head back to. From the live music to the beer garden to the Twin Peaks Pop! vinyls over the bar its definitely a place I'd return to.
The parma was close to being great but stumbled at the starting block and didn't quite manage to catch up. I'd give it another go in the hopes that things improve.
Now I'm going to check if Barton Fink is on Netflix. I like the Coen Brothers (Fargo FTW) and if the movie is good enough to have an entire pub named after it, surely its worth checking out!