Where? - 50 Station St. Clarkefield
Price? - $24 standard, $26 novelty
Website? None that I could find, only Facebook
Reviewers – Cale, Emma, Grace, Ivy, Kylie, Lee, Matt, Nikki, Shanan, Tony
Sweet mother of all that is cheesy. 300 parmas.
I've covered all the sentimental "holy crap" stuff ad nauseum in reviews #100 & #200 - But hot damn, when we started this little project seven frakkin' years ago (Think about that. If a child was conceived after parma #1 at Mrs. Parmas it'd be a seven year old person by now. Good god that is scary) we never would have thought it would have endured as long as it has.
If you're reading this, thank you. None of this would be possible without your support.
Now... To the parma!
As is tradition on parma reviews ending in '00, we decided to load up the parma bus and head out of town. For #100 we went to Alexandra, for #200 we went to Echuca, so it'd stand to reason for #300 we'd go to Sydney!
Wrong! We went to Clarkefield instead. (Sydney is coming in a few weeks ... Shhh).
The Coach & Horses in (aka "The Clarkefield Pub") is a short drive outside of Melbourne, just on the other side of Sunbury. It is an old bluestone pub in the middle of nowhere that carries a very sinister reputation - A reputation as Australia's "Most Haunted Hotel". Strap on your proton packs folks, because this parma review just took a turn for the ghostly.
We loaded up the parma bus and drove the 45 minutes out of Melbourne to Clarkefield, a town of not much more than a train station and a pub. We pulled up beside the bluestone behemoth - The spectres on the sign made it clear we were in ghost country now...
Inside the Coach & Horses is a warm and inviting pub. I won't deny there is a bit of a creepy vibe to the pub, but easily overlooked by a cracking open fireplace and friendly service.
We took our seats in one of the back rooms of the massive pub and checked the menu -
Quite a few novelty options! Some pretty unique ones as well. Honey Mustard and El Dorado are definitely parmas you don't see every day.
If I was the management of the Coach & Horses I'd really play up the ghost angle in my menu. Who wouldn't want to try an Ectoparma? with Haunted Ham, Nightmarish Napoli and Chilling cheese. Missed opportunity guys!
We placed our orders and awaited the arrival of our parmas, we headed to the bar and grabbed a pint in the meantime.
Beer list at the Coach & Horses is pretty basic. If you can't make do with VB, Carlton or Great Northern then you'll probably be disappointed. I'm happy with anything as long as its cold & bubbly, so we made do with a few pints of Carlton.
About 20 minutes after ordering our parmas arrived...
I've got to say, I was a little disappointed when I first saw the parma. After 300 meals you'd think I'd be able to sum up a bird pretty well at first glance, and this one looked like a store bought, processed, crappy parma.
But it seems I've still got some learning to do! To my surprise, under the crumbs I was greeted with pure, unprocessed chicken breast. Piping hot, juicy and cooked to perfection. The crumbs were quite soggy and there were a few issues of them not holding on to the chicken at all, but a minor complaint to a pretty solid foundation to the dish.
The toppings were pretty great. Despite a major case of slippery cheese, there was plenty of it to go around. The napoli was the absolute star. Fresh, chunky, liberally applied and bursting with flavour. The ham was there, but lost amongst the cheesy-tomatoey onslaught to the senses.
The chips were standard pub fare. Nothing to write home about but they did their job well. I was lucky enough to get the lion's share when it came to serving size, others around the table weren't as lucky.
The salad, like the chips, was okay. Fresh and crisp, but lacking any real oomph. Could have used a bit more dressing.
On a trip to the bar i noticed this sign - This sort of thing is why I love country pubs. Brimming with history.
The weather report for the day was supposed to be gloomy and depressing - Luckily for us the sun managed to peek out from behind the clouds for the afternoon, so after our meals we pulled up a seat in one of the spacious beer gardens the Coach & Horses has on offer
I'd be perfectly happy in paying another $24 for the parma we received. It wasn't perfect, but it was a down to earth homestyle feed made with quality ingredients. There were advertisements floating around (not literally) for a "Around the world in 10 Parmas" Wednesday at the Coach & Horses - $20 for your choice of 10 novelty options. Definitely worth checking out.
I really like the Coach & Horses. Proper Aussie country pubs are a dying breed, and its comforting to know that one still stands a mere stone's throw from Melbourne.
And with that, review #300 was done and we headed back to Melbourne - To be honest I was a little disappointed that we didn't see any ghosts on the trip. Maybe next time!
Oh, and I wasn't kidding about the trip to Sydney... Stay tuned for that one in a few weeks!~