Where - 246 Victoria St. North Melbourne
Price - $20 ($15 Parma & Pot on Tuesdays)
Website - https://centralclubhotel.com.au
Reviewers –Lee & Nikki
During the latter half of last year after watching one too many episodes of Hot Ones on YouTube, I decided to try my hand at making hot sauce. The first batch was a bit of a dumpster fire, but chalk it up to a learning experience. The second batch was much better but still a bit mild (mostly habaneros and jalapeños, nothing crazy hot just yet) . So for the third batch I wanted to go hot... proper hot. I wanted to use some of the hottest chilis known to man, Carolina Reapers.
So during the December break I hopped on a tram and headed in to the Queen Victoria Market. After a bit of browsing I found one stall with what I was after… Reapers aplenty. I grabbed a bagful and was headed home when the Central Club Hotel caught my eye. It looked like it had some work done.
A bit of history - I have wanted to try the Central Club for a while, it looked like a bit of a dive but that has never stopped us in the past, some of our best parmas have been in divey pubs - However pre-renovations the kitchen for the Central Club was only open for lunch and not for dinner, which made it super hard to get out and do a review as 95% of our reviews take place on Thursday after work.
So with a bag of reapers in hand I poked my head into the Central Club. It was a new pub! Completely refitted with a focus on craft beer and tap takeovers. I grabbed a pint and checked the menu, even though the kitchen is now being run by Burgerlove they still made room for a parma on the “Classics” section of the menu. I made a mental note that we needed to check them out ASAP in the new year … which I promptly forgot about until receiving a tweet from a reader reminding me to do so, and last night that is exactly what we did.
We arrived back at the Central Club just after 7 on Thursday and were surprised to find the pub already quite busy. I’m gonna chalk it up to a lot of punters wanting to escape the oppressive heat hitting Melbourne this week, but we almost struggled to find a free table in the front bar when we arrived (luckily we managed to secure one in prime position in front of the aircon when we did)
We grabbed the menu and found our target for the night -
Sounds good to me! A quick trip to the bar to place our order and back to the table to await the arrival of our meal.
The tap list at the Central Club is a thing of beauty. I hesitate to list any beers here as it appears they rotate through taps with great frequency, I’ll just pull this paragraph from their website which should tell you everything you need to know -
The Central Club touts itself as “North Melbourne’s Best Craft Beer Venue”. Big if true, and to be honest I can’t think of any off the top of my head that would compete. Definitely worth checking out if you enjoy a beer or two.
After about 20 minutes our parmas arrived from the kitchen…
First up, under that mountain of cheese I can assure you that there actually is a schnitzel. I was pleasantly surprised to find real, unprocessed chicken breast.
A little thin in spots and slightly dry, but overall a quality piece of chicken used in the base. The crumbing was super crunchy, maybe slightly overcooked but otherwise fine. a decent foundation for the parma.
I want to say “this parma was all about the cheese” due to the overwhelming avalanche of cheese floated on top, however the napoli sauce was also quite tasty in the Central Club parma as well. Unlike last week’s parma at Kicks which was also insanely cheesy, the Club’s parma had enough napoli that it wasn’t lost in the shuffle. Perhaps slightly heavy handed on the tomato paste, but overall added a great rich flavour to the dish.
The ham was visible but its flavour was all but lost amongst the cheese and napoli. I appreciate that it was there, however it didn’t add much to the dish for me.
I can already hear the complaints of “The parma is on the chips! FAIL!” flooding this review, but to be honest the serving of chips was so damn huge I don’t know where else they could have put them. Massively large portion, well seasoned, my only complaint would be that they were served a little bit cold, but other than that a top notch side to the parma.
The salad was probably the weakest of the three elements on the plate. It was a big serve but felt like a bit of an afterthought. It was fine, but the lettuce was quite wilted and it didn’t bring a whole lot to the party. To be honest I’d prefer it if they swapped out the garden salad for a creamy coleslaw, that would have complimented the parma insanely well.
The parma at the Central Club was fine for what it was, and I think it is priced appropriately. Its a no-frills parma at a no frills price and if you walk in with that mindset I think you’ll be happy with what you get. I’d be happy to shell out another $20 for this one, and their $15 parma & pot night is a fantastic deal if you can get down on a Tuesday.
I enjoyed our trip to the Central Club. Despite renovating into a craft beer focussed pub it has managed to retain its character. Its a welcoming, friendly pub with a great range of beers and a solid feed. It definitely could use some work, but the foundations of a great meal are there. Worth a crack if you’re in the area (especially on a Tuesday) but I wouldn’t go out of my way for it.
Oh, and that third batch of hot sauce turned out great. New business venture? ParmaBlaze™ Hot Sauce coming soon… Maybe