Where - 79 High St. Woodend
Price - $27. Extra $2 for garlic aioli
Website - https://holgatebrewhouse.com
Reviewers – Lee & Nikki
When I think about the parmas of my childhood one parma sticks out in particular. I would have been about 12 or 13, coming back from a weekend at Daylesford with my parents we decided to stop in at the Keating Hotel in Woodend for a Sunday lunch. I ordered the parma, we got our meals and I tucked in to discover a horribly burnt schnitzel with a bright pink, completely raw centre. I thought I was going to die from eating raw chicken and I’m pretty sure I cried. It was not a fun time.
I’m in my mid 30’s now and still think about that horrible parma to this day, and subconsciously its probably the reason I have devoted my life to ridding the world of shitty parmas.
I knew the Holgate Brewhouse had been in Woodend for a while now, but I never made the connection that the Holgate building was, in fact, the old Keating Hotel until I was chatting with my parents recently and they brought up how horrible that parma was (I must have caused a scene for them to remember).
I had heard good things about the Holgate parma in the past and this past Sunday I found myself with nothing to do for the day, so we took a drive out to Woodend to check out the Holgate Brewhouse!
Arriving at the Holgate Brewhouse I was amazed at how much it doesn’t feel like a brewery. It’s got the vibe of an old school country pub. A country pub currently running a Holgate tap take-over maybe, but just a country pub none the less. I was expecting more wank, but what I found was a down to earth, cosy spot to grab a beer and a feed.
It was about noon on Sunday when we arrived and the pub was filling fast. The dining rooms were already packed so we managed to snag a table in the front bar and check the menu…
$27 for the parma and $2 if you want some aioli to dip your chips, of course we chipped in the extra for the aioli, what sane person wouldn’t, bringing our total for the parma up to $29 each.
I’m sure it will come as no surprise that the Holgate Brewhouse has one or two Holgate beers on tap at the bar. Rather than make a decision on which to try we decided to go for a tasting paddle instead…
From what the supplied “beer guide” told me the tasting paddle covers 8 of the 13 beers available (If I remember correctly). Personal highlights would be the Mt. Macedon Pale Ale and the Hop Tart Sour. Highly recommended.
No more than 10 minutes after placing our orders (I remember because I was only 2 beers into the paddle) our parmas arrived from the kitchen…
So as I said the Holgate Brewhouse gets super busy on weekends, and where we were seated by the bar we could hear what pretty much everyone was ordering - And pretty much everyone around was on the parma. Our parmas arrived in less than 10 minutes and the schnitzel was … I’m not gonna say cold, but It was definitely not piping hot, leading me to believe that Holgate are pre-prepping their parmas during busy periods such as the weekend lunch shift.
Other than the temperature it was a great quality piece of chicken. The crumbs were crunchy, everything seemed to be of the highest quality - Now I will warn you that when the menu says that this parma is “Kiev Cut”, other than being thick and un-flattened like you would expect a chicken kiev, this is a bone in parma, something we have come across fairly recently. I’m not gonna pass too much judgement on bone-in parmas. Personally I’m not a big fan, but to each their own.
The toppings were pretty great. The ham was super flavoursome and laid on thick and the napoli was rich & chunky, very rustic with an almost home-made feel. The cheese was probably the weakest of the trio. It started out fine but didn’t have a great half-life, Going a bit hard and rubbery when I was only halfway through the parma.
If it weren’t for the delicious garlic aioli the chips would have been a let down. They were unseasoned and, like the parma, seemed a little bit old. Luckily the $2 worth of aioli worked as a fantastic chip dip which I would highly recommend you fork out the extra cash for should you find yourself at the Holgate Brewhouse.
The salad was fine. Mostly mixed greens generously tossed in a creamy dressing. Worked well as a palate cleanser. Nothing too showy but not bad at all. I don’t have a whole lot to say about it to be honest!
Value is a tough one this week! I’m not in love with the Holgate parma however I can see that it was prepared with a focus on quality ingredients in mind. With a few minor tweaks at the production end could be fantastic. $29 with aioli is quite pricey - If the aioli was included in the original price tag I would be much happier forking out $27 for what we received but as it stands I think this one falls just on the wrong side of the value proposition for me. No special parma nights on the books that I am aware of!
Compared to the life-alteringly bad parma I had in the same pub as a teen the Holgate Brewhouse parma is streets ahead. If you feel like a Sunday drive a day trip to Woodend and a visit to Holgate is a great way to kill an afternoon. The parma uses high quality ingredients, and if you don’t mind a bone in your parma this is definitely one to try, The sides could use a little love and I’d rather wait for a fresh parma than get a pre-cooked one quickly, but there is a lot of potential for a great feed at Holgate.