Where - 613 Sydney Rd, Coburg
Price - $18.50 for the full serve, $14.70 for a half serve
Website - http://www.drumshotel.com.au
Reviewers – Grace, Lee, Shanan, Stefo & Tony
The Drums hotel is one of those pubs that’s been around forever. Established in 1875 up the Coburg end of Sydney Road it has been wetting the whistle of thirsty patrons for over a hundred and forty years, and while it has been around for well over a century we hadn’t gotten around to visiting - To be honest driving past the Drums it looked a little corporate - With all of signage for pokies and the TAB bigger than the signs of the name of the pub itself I had all but written it off as another pokies palace and had little confidence that they would serve up any sort of decent parma. Until recently, when Reviewer Stefo sent me a message from the Drums...
It actually looked okay. He vouched for them, and suggested we give them a proper ParmaDaze review - The following week we were walking in the doors of the Drums Hotel.
Inside the Drums I was surprised at how much atmosphere it had. I was expecting a sterile pokie den but was genuinely surprised at how inviting the pub was. It had the standards - TAB, Bottle shop and gaming room, but I was surprised to find a cosy lounge, a spacious bistro with a veritable museum of old pub paraphernalia and a spacious bluestone lined front bar with big screen TV and plenty of space to pull up a chair for a quiet pint.
The pub was filling fast so we grabbed a table and checked the menu - It’s worth noting that the Drums offers up a half serve parma for $14.70 while the full sized parma clocks in at $18.50 - Unfortunately the Italian Parma that we were sold on was no longer available when we visited the Drums. Sad times.
We placed our order at the bar, along with an order for an entree we spied in the menu ... The perennial favourite - Bad Boy Chips.
As usual, the Bad Boys hit the spot. Such a good chip, and presented well with a side of aioli and sweet chilli sauce.
The tap list at the drums was relatively small. Furphy, Carlton, the locally brewed Coburg Lager, VB, Cascade Light and Coopers Pale. If you feel like something a little craftier the stubby range could have what you are after. I spied Mountain Goat Pale, Barrow Boys, Pentridge Pale and Stone & Wood Pacific, White Rabbit and Hawkers at the very least - So you should be able to find something you like.
It's also worth noting that the little cake & coffee area between the front bar and the bistro serves up what they claim to be "Coburg's Best Vanilla Slice". I don't know how competitive the Coburg Vanilla Slice scene is, but I will say that they looked damn tasty.
When we ordered the staff apologised and said there was going to be a wait - I braced myself for a long wait, but it turned out to be only 20 minutes or so before our dinner arrived. Perfectly acceptable.
The parma, as a whole, was presented quite well - Everything had a lot of space to breathe on the plate. Without hesitation we picked up our cutlery and tucked in.
The Schnitzel was served piping hot - Mouth burning hot, and it retained its heat throughout the meal, no time under the heat lamps for these parmas, they were served fresh out the gate.
The chicken was hammered a little thin for my liking but not criminally so, and the crumbs were laid on quite thick. My biggest gripe with this parma was it was quite oily throughout. As I ate it the pool of oil left on the plate continued to grow, and the flavour of the oil permeated the dish throughout.
The toppings were a bit of a mixed bag. The cheese blend was spot on. Gooey and tasty with just the right level of golden brown. I was surprised to find a slice of ham included for a relatively inexpensive parma - However I couldn't quite taste it as I ate, it's flavour lost among the others on the plate, as was the napoli, I could see it on the parma, but couldn't taste it as I ate.
Bad Boy chips these were not. I enjoyed the wire cage they were served in but beyond that these were pretty unremarkable. Cooked well and a decent serving, but criminally under-seasoned. Not bad ... Not great. I would have happily paid extra (as reviewer Shanan did) to swap out the standard chips for the Bad Boy chips we enjoyed before our parmas.
The side salad was a lot like the chips - A large serving that was presented well, but stumbled somewhere in execution. The dressing didn't hit all of the leaves and those left without were quite dry and a little bitter. It did the job, but didn't blow me away by any means.
As far as the value for money on the meal, anything under twenty dollars for a parma in this day and age is rare, so a parma for just $18.50 is refreshing to see. For that price I could see myself having this parma again should I find myself back at The Drums - To be honest, however, I'd rather chuck in an extra $1.50, bring the price up to an even $20 and substitute out the lacklustre chips that came with the parma for the outstanding Bad Boys we received as an entree.
All in all I was wrong about the Drums, What looks from the outside like a lifeless pokie cave is actually a surprisingly decent and inviting pub. The parma wasn't outstanding by any stretch - But it also wasn’t bad, and I think with a simple tweaks it could be greatly improved. I wouldn't travel far for it, but if you're nearby it might be worth stopping in and checking it out.
If only for Coburg's best Vanilla slice.