Where - 344 Nicholson St. Fitzroy
Price - $18
Website - http://www.commercialclubhotel.com.au
Reviewers – Lee, Nikki & Stefo
When we decided to visit the Commercial Club this week my initial thought was "Haven't we done this pub already?". We drive past it a lot and I have always filed it away in my brain as already visited, however I searched the site and could find no mention of us ever visiting the Commercial Club... To be honest I think I was confusing it with The Empress, a pub we reviewed in 2016 that is about 1km up Nicholson Street from the Commercial Club.
Once I realised that there was a pub in Fitzroy we had yet to review it was made top priority - We loaded up the Parma Bus and headed to the Commercial Club Hotel.
On the way to the pub I wasn't too sure what to expect - Was it gonna be a down-to-earth old school back streets local? or a shiny, newly renovated, gastropub?
Turns out, its a little bit of both. The Commercial Club retains its old world charm while still feeling well maintained. The front bar has the mandatory-for-a-Fitzroy-local old Fitzroy footy jumpers hanging over the bar yet the large glass entryway that leads to the beer garden out back has a distinctively modern vibe. They're riding the line and for the most part it works.
The pub was filling up pretty fast so we grabbed a menu and checked for our target -
Much like the pub itself, the menu straddles the line between the old and new school. Historic pub staples like spag bol, bangers and mash and a burger join the parma, along with a more gastro Cape Grim sirloin salad and a bunch of options for the vegeterian, vegan and gluten free patrons. All super reasonably priced as well.
Tap list at the Commercial Club was streamlined, but adequate. Young Henrys, Barrow Boys, 4 Pines, 2 Birds, Guinness and Napoleone Apple Cider on tap as well as a few more tinned and bottled options behind the bar. Not boastful, but you should be able to find something you like.
After a 20ish minute wait the parmas arrived...
My initial thought when I saw the parma hit the table was "Oh crap, it's tiny!" - Luckily though, looks can be deceiving, as the Commercial Club parma made up for its small circumference with an outstanding, almost not-even-hammered thickness.
It was served piping hot, juicy and well cooked. The crumbs had a decent crunch however there was a little bit of flake away, and although it seemed small on the plate it was surprisingly filling.
The toppings were fine. Great coverage of ham and cheese with a peppery flair on top. The one thing I would love with the Commercial's parma would be a slice or two of smoked ham on top. This parma is begging for a piece of quality ham to really drive it home (Maybe the option of ham for an extra $2? Just sayin!)
The cheese was grilled perfectly and the napoli was fine (could have used a little more chunk). Overall the combination of quality chicken breast and toppings supplied made this pocket rocket of a parma super enjoyable.
If the parma was good the chips were outstanding. Not buried underneath the parma, plenty of them, fresh, steaming hot, beer battered, super well seasoned and even tomato sauce supplied for the side. Excellent work on the chips!
The salad was the Commercial Club's biggest misstep. It just felt like an afterthought. A pile of dry leaves with one lone wedge of cucumber, a bit of a dissapointment after the outstanding parma & chips
In 2018 finding a parma priced under $20 instantly has my attention, and the parma we received at the Commercial Club for $18 is just outstanding value. As far as I can tell they don't offer a specific parma night, but to be honest at just $18 it doesn't need to get any cheaper.
If you're after a quality feed that won't break the bank then Commercial Club is definitely one to check out. The pub has a super friendly, locals pub vibe that could easily become your second home should you live in the area... Definitely worth a visit.