Where - 1555 Melton Highway, Rockbank
Price - $25.90
Website - https://www.gamekeepers.com.au
Reviewers - Lee & Nikki
If you’ve spent any time driving from Melbourne to Melton you’d surely know about “The Windmill”, a function centre on the Melton Highway which has a large, colonial style windmill as its centrepiece.
If you can draw your eyes away from the majesty that is the windmill for even a moment, you might notice that next door to the windmill is a pub, a pub that is the target of our review tonight - the Gamekeepers Secret Inn, or Gamekeepers Secret Country Inn, the signage is inconsistent - Although any signage at all seems a bit counter-intuitive to an establishment that you seemingly want to keep “secret” … but I digress.
Having driven past the ‘keepers hundreds of times I have always wondered what it was like inside, by the looks of their facebook page they seem to be pretty active, with regular live music and food special nights - Yet as far as pubs go it seems to be in an awkward spot, even though the suburban sprawl is edging closer and closer the stretch of the Melton Highway the keepers lies on seems to still be firmly in the middle of nowhere.
So imagine my surprise when we arrived on Thursday night to an almost full carpark. The pub is huge, so there was no issue finding a table, however rocking up at about 6:30 on a Thursday night the pub was already abuzz with activity.
The keepers definitely takes the “Gamekeepers” part of their name seriously. Everywhere you look there is a stuffed animal of some sort. Mounted game trophies and taxidermied ducks as far as the eye can see along with various hunting paraphernalia lining the walls. The gamekeepers has the definite vibe of a country pub, yet surprisingly close to Melbourne.
We took a seat and checked the menu…
I expanded the above photo from just the parma purely because I can’t remember the last time I saw a Chicken Kiev on a standard pub menu. I love a good Kiev almost as much as I love a parma and seeing one on the printed, every day, not-specials-board menu is a rarity these days, so I wanted to capture it here for posterity and to remind myself to head back to the Gamekeepers very soon to give their Kiev a proper crack.
The menu at the ‘keepers seems to have a signature item. Above the entrees and mains and everything else there is a sort of “cob” menu, offering up a “warm cob loaf” with your choice of butter, garlic butter or olive oil & balsamic, along with the option of a garlic & cheese cob or a garlic cheese and bacon cob if you’re feeling particularly naughty.
Only two of us at review this week but my curiosity got the best of me and I had to try at least some sort of cob. We went with a half cob with garlic butter ($5), and trust me I was glad we only got the half because when the below massive loaf of bread got delivered to the table I was in shock.
As promised it was warm & crispy and the supplied garlic butter was delicious. It was like a construct-your-own garlic bread hobby kit at the table. Massive, delicious and worth the $5 (we couldn’t get through it between the two of us, you’ll see what remained in the background of most of the photos of the parma) I highly recommend starting out your trip to the ‘keepers with a cob.
As far as beers at the keepers go there’s nothing too fancy, but honestly it was a more varied range than I was expecting. On tap they had Yenda Pale, Magners, Carlton, Carlton Dry, Furphy and Guinness with Little Creatures, Beez Nees and a few American imports available by the stubby.
I had to stop myself from shovelling cob into my face as our parmas arrived shortly after…
First things first this parma arrived from the kitchen steaming hot. I had to let it sit for a second as it was absolutely boiling. The chicken was real, insanely juicy chicken breast. Cooked to perfection and well crumbed. The two schnitzels varied wildly in shape, a good sign that they are making/crumbing these things in house. Thickness varied a little but overall this was a thick, juicy schnitzel - A fantastic base for the toppings above.
The toppings, however, weren’t as high in quality as the schnitzel. They were fine, there was nothing particularly wrong with them, however the lack of ham and a relatively boring napoli sauce left it feeling a little bland. With a bit of salt, pepper and some cheeky garlic butter left over from the cob we managed to infuse some life into it, but I felt like this is a parma that needs something special to bring it home. The cheese blend was flavoursome, very cheddar heavy and reminiscent of the Prince of Wales parma days, but still not quite enough for this to be a standout for me.
Don’t get me wrong, this was still a super enjoyable parma, but I feel with a tweak or two it could be great.
The chips were a bit of a let down. Standard pub chips, unseasoned and a bit undercooked. They were okay but needed quite a bit of work, Also with such a long plate there’s no need to stack the parma on top of them at all. The chips were probably the weakest part of the dish.
The garden salad was fresh and crisp with a balsamic bite. Nothing too fancy but they got the basics right. A fine side dish to the parma.
As far as value goes I think $25.90 is a little expensive for what we got but I was mostly happy with what we paid. I don’t mind chucking in an extra buck or two to support country pubs. As far as I can tell there are no special parma nights on the books at the ‘keepers, but its still worth trying either way.
The ‘keepers parma is a parma with a lot of potential. They’ve got the basics on point, it just needs a little bit of flair to bring it home. A slice of smoked ham would do this dish wonders, hell even a parma night with a couple of novelty options once a week would work wonders for them. Overall an enjoyable feed with a super friendly country pub vibe a stones through from the CBD - Definitely worth checking out (and be sure to try the cob).