Where - Highpoint Shopping Centre, Maribyrnong (Bottom level, near the cinema)
Price - $22
Website - https://www.highpointhotel.com.au
Reviewers – Lee, Nikki & Stefo
Alright, before we kick of this week's review I've got to take a second to promote the Parma For A Farmer campaign. I am absolutely gobsmacked with the amount of pubs that have gotten on board for this thing and I am doing my best to spread the word for this fantastic cause, so do yourself a favour and check out the Parma For A Farmer Facebook page - They're doing their best to keep up to date with participating pubs but to be honest there are so many jumping on board they must be struggling to keep up. Amazing work.
And yes, tonight's target is also participating, donating $1 from every parma sold in August to drought relief.
In the before time, in the long long ago before ParmaDaze existed and we would blissfully enjoy our weekly parma at the Prince of Wales Hotel, the biggest competition for parmas-served-per-week was a pub at Highpoint known as Ruby. Now I was content with my weekly parma at the Prince of Wales so I never ventured to see what Ruby had on offer, but rumour has it they had queues out the door when their parma night was the big thing. They closed down long before we kicked off ParmaDaze so it would appear that just how good the Ruby parma was is lost to time, if anyone remembers the Ruby parma night be sure to let me know!
Anyway, this is a very round-about way of introducing this week's attempt - The Highpoint Hotel. Next door to where Ruby was located was the Highpoint hotel, which, until last month, was nothing more than a pokies room that was in my top 10 picks for the most depressing place on earth. It was a mostly empty room with a tiny bar, TAB and pokies out the back. So imagine my surprise when I found out it had been completely gutted and was now touting itself as the "biggest & best sports bar in the West!" - This was a claim that had to be investigated, so last night we loaded up the parma bus and headed to the Highpoint Hotel
First up, as you can see from the above panoramic photo this place is freaking huge. Without a doubt the biggest (indoor) pub I've ever been to. The walls are lined with multiple massive TV's, at least 4 pool tables scattered around the venue, a professional looking darts setup, TAB, and even a selection of pinball, arcade and skill tester machines they must've nicked from nearby Playtime. Oh, and the pokies are still there, but they are much less intrusive than they used to be.
We grabbed a seat and checked the menu...
Sounds good, we ordered at the bar and grabbed our Boomerang-style device (you know the one, it buzzes and flashes when your parma is ready to be collected from the window).
In researching this pub beforehand I noticed that it is part of the ALH pub group, the conglomeration of over 300 pubs around Australia owned by Woolworths.
When it comes to parmas the ALH name is pretty much a death sentence. ALH pubs are almost always dank pokies dens that care more about getting punters in than the quality of the food - So I won't lie when I say expectations for this one were horribly low.
Colour me shocked when I realised that there were actually decent beers available at the Highpoint Hotel. On tap was Carlton, VB, Brooklyn, One Fifty Lashes, Furphy, Blue Moon, Sierra Nevada, Pirate Life, 4 Pines, Pimms, Orchard Thieves and Ginger Beer. Then in the fridge we had (among other options) cans of Colonial, Young Henry's and Coors. I was massively surprised with the selection on offer.
About 15 minutes after ordering our buzzers buzzed and we collected our parmas...
Well. This looks much better than expected! We picked up our cutlery and tucked in. First up, the buttermilk fried chicken is definitely a different yet interesting foundation to a parma. It kept the crumbing thin and crispy and even carried a little bit of spice through with it. I wouldn't want it every time, but it was definitely appreciated as something different.
Real chicken breast although it was a little bit overcooked and a bit dry - Could have been phenomenal had the chicken been a little bit juicier.
The toppings were solid all round. Great finishing touches with the parmesan & parsley garnish on top. Ham was applied liberally and carried a strong smokey flavour - Even the sugo had a bit of personality. There was a lot going on with this parma, many different flavours to appreciate and they all worked pretty damn well together.
The chips were probably the weakest element of the dish. They could have been great - Coated with a spicy, almost Cajun seasoning they were definitely something new, however ours were served pretty much cold, felt like they had been sitting out for a while before they were plated up.
Rather than a traditional garden salad the Highpoint Hotel has opted for a spicy coleslaw. Heavy on the mayo, it paired super well with the parma and even helped alleviate some of the dryness from the chicken.
$22 for what we received was a perfectly reasonable price - Nobody left the table hungry and they weren't at all tight with any of the elements on the plate. I'd definitely be back for that price. I can't see any specific parma nights on the books, but there are a few drink specials worth checking out in the "What's On" section of their website.
The Highpoint Hotel honestly blew my expectations out of the water. I expected an ALH pub to play it safe, not offer up a wide gamut of bold flavours. The Highpoint Hotel parma took a lot of risks, most of which paid of beautifully. It's comforting to know that the next time your partner wants to go shopping at Highpoint there's actually a decent pub you can duck off to & watch the footy while you wait. Definitely worth checking out.