Where - 191 Nicholson St. Abbotsford
Price - $22
Website - https://www.theparkhotel.com.au
Reviewers – Adam T, Lee, Nikki, Stefo
Normally when we redo a pub it's because we received word that a once poorly reviewed parma has upped its game, and would like a second chance to get things right. However, when we first reviewed The Park Hotel back in 2012 we absolutely loved it, considering it one of the best parmas we had tried so far.
Over the years since our first review of the park I had heard different reports about the quality of the parma. One week I'd get an email claiming they had changed chefs and it had turned crap, then the following week I'd get tagged in a post claiming it was the best parma someone had ever had. We have always meant to put it on the docket for a redo, but it's hard to get enthused about heading out for a parma when the only place to go is down.
Cut to 2018. We still consider the parma at The Park in our top 10 (although it has dropped to 5th place in the 6 years since our first visit), and I receive word that the pub has new owners, the team behind the fantastic Royston Hotel in Richmond have taken up the reigns at The Park and completely remodelled their parma. The Park has a good pedigree, the Royston has a good pedigree - Surely the meeting of these parma champions can mean only good things! So last night we loaded up the parma bus and headed back to Abbotsford to see what had changed.
We arrived shortly after 7 on a Thursday evening and the Park Hotel was already packed. It still boasts a fantastic backstreets local pub vibe. In our first review I made the comment "If I lived anywhere near Abbotsford this place would be my local, hell I’d even consider moving just to be closer to this pub, simply gorgeous" and to be honest my opinions on the matter haven't changed - An absolutely stunning pub.
We didn't have a booking but out of sheer luck we managed to snag a table in the rear dining area, right next to one of many open fireplaces, which was delightful on a chilly August night.
A menu was waiting for us at our table, we checked it out and spied our target for the evening.
Other than the parma there were some tantalising other options on the menu. The Philly Cheese steak, Cheeseburger spring rolls and hot & numbing chicken wings were particularly tantalising, and the tease of a Wednesday night $18 steak night seemed like a delightful way to spend an evening.
I didn't get a great look at the tap list as we placed our order via the rear window that leads through to the dining area, but at the very least they had Balter XPA and Stone & Wood on tap, so I was completely satisfied with that.
About 15 minutes after ordering our parmas arrived at our table. As is tradition with Redo's here at ParmaDaze lets have a look at the 2012 version before getting stuck into the 2018 review...
Talk about a transformation! The parma at the Park Hotel is completely different from its predecessor. The strip of bacon on top is no more and in its place are healthy lashings of crisp smoked ham.
The schnitzel beneath was top notch. Pure, untainted chicken breast, lightly crumbed and cooked to maintain a solid crunch while enjoying. The napoli was abundant and flavoursome and the cheese, while not drowning the parma, was used with restraint and cooked with perfection to let the other elements shine through while making its presence known.
If I had to criticise it I'd say it was served a little cooler than I'd like. Not cold by any stretch, but I enjoy my parmas piping hot, and this was slightly below that. A minor complaint to an otherwise flawless parma.
I was a little worried when I first saw the chips. There was no salt on the table and I couldn't see any sauce around so I was concerned that they would need a bit of help - Luckily the chips on the Park parma didn't need any help. Perfectly cooked. Perfectly seasoned (I detected a note of chicken salt?) and served to the side of the parma. Fantastic.
I've been harping on for a while about pubs needing to do something different with their salad, garden salads are played out and boring and, while a better option, creamy coleslaw can be a bit too heavy when beside an already heavy meal like a chicken parmigiana. Well the Park Hotel seems to have struck the perfect balance with their shredded cabbage salad. It's a middle ground between garden salad and coleslaw. Shredded cabbage, packed with crisp red onion and no heavy mayo to be found. It was the epitome of fresh, and the perfect palate cleanser to accompany the dish.
As far as I can tell the Park Hotel doesn't have any parma nights on their books, however I'd happily pay $25 plus for the parma we received last night - Having it clock in at only $22 is a bargain in my eyes, no complaints whatsoever.
All up the parma at the Park Hotel is absolutely phenomenal. It's like they took our criticisms of the Royston, fixed them, and moved them over to another pub (and this definitely puts the Royston on our radar for a Re-Redo). We used to tout the parma at the Park as one of the best in Melbourne, now they've somehow made it even better. Do yourself a favour and go check it out, you won't be disappointed.