Where - 502 Sydney Rd. Coburg
Price - $23 in the bistro, Thursday parma night (6 varieties from $13)
Website - http://www.brownscornerhotel.com.au
Reviewers – Lee, Nikki & Stefo
When we first reviewed Browns back in 2013 we walked away unhappy. To quote the write up for that visit is was a “bland, dry, expensive, lukewarm mess”. It rated as one of the worst we had ever done and languished near the bottom of our ladder for quite some time - However after some closures and redo’s of the parmas that sat lower than Browns it somehow found itself dead last, with the unpleasant distinction of the worst rated parma on our ladder.
I was flicking through some old reviews recently and came across Browns. Yes it was bad, I stand by our initial assessment, however was it bad enough to be the worst parma on our list? A pang of guilt hit my stomach and I resolved that we should check it out again. Surely something has changed in the 5 years since our first review… Right?
So last night we headed to the corner of Bell Street and Sydney Road in Coburg to once again check out Browns Corner Hotel.
Interior of Browns is pretty much the same as before, although this time we gravitated to the bar instead of the bistro. Things were gearing up for Thursday night trivia so it was a much livelier and more inviting atmosphere in the bar than the completely dead bistro.
The parma on the bistro menu (what we had in 2013) is as follows -
Pretty much the same as last time, only with a $1 hike in price.
Little did I know until we had arrived, Thursday night has now become Thursday Parma night at Browns…
Choices to make! We checked out the range of specials on offer, Reviewers Stefo and Nikki decided to be boring and stick to the Classic, while I was feeling a little more adventurous and opted for the Italian. I was curious if the addition of a few different toppings justified a five dollar price hike, But I' guess we’ll see.
There are 12 taps in the Browns bar, with Carlton Draught, Dry, Pure Blonde, Stella, 4 Pines, Wild Yak, Bulmers, Frothy, Whale Ale, Great Northern and VB. The craft fans may go a little wanting at this one, although I did spy a stubby of Stone & Wood in the fridge.
As is tradition with re-reviews, let’s have a look at our 2013 experience at Browns before moving on to last night’s parma…
Hmmm. At first place that crumbing looked pretty supermarket-deli-window processed to me, however once we tucked in it wasn’t so bad. It was dry, but big enough and seemingly real chicken - The processed looking crumbs didn’t do them any favours though.
From order to food arrival it only took about 10-15 minutes for the parmas to come out. They were piping hot and seemingly popular as pretty much everyone around that was packed in for trivia was having a parma as well.
The toppings were fine. There was a fair bit of nudity, which I can normally excuse if the schnitzel itself it top tier, however this one didn’t quite have the strength to make it without the toppings helping it along.
I enjoyed the italian toppings, they definitely weren’t tight with the olives or salami. The bolognaise was a little bit dry (as was the napoli, the others around the table would report). To be honest I’d be fine if they dropped the bol all together on the Italian, the olives and salami are such strong flavours that it gets lost amongst them anyway, and switching back to standard napoli might help drop the $5 difference between classic and Italian.
Once rescued from underneath the parma the chips were great. Beer battered, hot and crispy. I wanted more of them as the serving was a little small, and some dipping sauce would have been nice, but otherwise these were great.
The salad was pretty much an afterthought. The ingredients were crisp but other than that there wasn’t a whole lot of love put into the side. It was fine … That’s about it.
On Thursday parma night with the spectacle of trivia around you the parma at Browns is acceptable for the price. I don’t think the Italian toppings were worth a whole $5 more, but at the same time I’d recommend getting one of the novelty toppings over the classic, the variety really helped to elevate a less-than-great schnitzel.
In the end I’m glad we went back to Browns. It was by no means the best parma we’ve ever had but it definitely doesn’t deserve to be on the bottom of our list. I’d recommend it if you’re after a cheap feed with fun trivia on a Thursday night, but probably not at full price.