Where - 191 Grattan St. Carlton
Price - $24
Website - https://www.princealfred.com
Reviewers – Lee
Cast your mind back to March of 2018. The country was reeling from Steve Smith’s suspension in the ball tampering scandal, Qantas launched its first direct flight between Australia and London and Carlton’s Prince Alfred Hotel had just re-opened after extensive renovations.
We headed down as soon as we heard the doors were open, The place looked fantastic - I won’t re-hash everything about our first impressions of the new pub, you can read about them here.
But the long and short of it is that this is the parma we were served …
Yeah. Not so great.
It goes down in history as the first time a pub has insisted we take a refund for the parma that was delivered.
But they were new, new pubs have teething problems so I had always planned to go back to PA’s and give them another go once things had calmed down and they had found their feet.
Then a couple of weeks ago I saw this post on their Instagram feed…
Oh damn. That actually looks pretty good! The coleslaw looks more traditional, they’ve done away with the ugly smear of unknown sauce on the plate and best of all they’ve finished it off with a healthy topping of prosciutto! A little overdue but I guess its time to head back to Carlton, so last night that is exactly what we did.
Flying solo I stopped into the PA at about 6pm on Thursday. The place was much quieter than our first visit and it was great to see a much calmer vibe to the place. Everyone seemed less rushed, it was a much more casual, low pressure experience.
I grabbed the menu, eyed the target…
And placed an order at the bar.
Tap list is still respectable. A few varieties of 4 Pines, some Goose Island, Furphy and the Copper Carlton draught tanks all available. The 4 Pines Summer Ale is what I opted for in the end and to be honest it went down very well.
After about 15 minutes the parma arrived from the kitchen…
We will get to the most glaring omission in a moment, but first the schnitzel.
First positive is that they have ditched the sticky sauce the schnitzel was basted in first time around that ended up blackening it to the point of being burnt. It was real chicken breast, unfortunately the chicken itself was quite dry, I had to make liberal use of the lovely coleslaw to the side to help balance it out.
Now to the toppings. Where the hell is my prosciutto.
I thought I was taking crazy pills to the point where I got out my phone and checked the PA instagram account again to make sure I hadn’t accidentally gone to the wrong Prince Alfred. Nope. I peeled back the cheese in hopes it was hiding under there … nope. I double checked the menu on the table in case they had changed it up since the Instagram photo was taken, yet it was there in black and white. “prosciutto”. Where was my prosciutto.
I can only assume that they had run out? It looks like there was a private function winding up in the downstairs area so maybe they had a run on parmas, this shit happens, but to send my parma out without mention that a key selling point (a selling point that I paid for, by the way) is missing is just not on.
“Hey mate, I’m so sorry but we’re out of prosciutto for the parmas. I can knock a couple of bucks off the price or throw in a free pot to make up for it?”
That’s all they needed. Instead I got a very basic parma for $24. disappointing.
The napoli was fine, albeit a bit light. The cheese had good stretch and was well browned, but to be honest everything was soured by the lack of prosciutto.
In theory the chips were fine, however once I lifted the parma off them I realised just how small the serving was. Maybe 10 chips in total on the plate, They were hot and crispy and the staff member who dropped off the parma offered to grab some tomato sauce if I wanted it, which is always appreciated. Could have used a little seasoning too, but just as I was starting to enjoy them I was done. Not nearly enough chips
The “cabbage and fennel salad” was just plain coleslaw, I couldn’t detect any fennel at all so that is another promised element that didn’t appear on the plate … Lucky for PA I’m actually not a big fan of fennel, so the lack of it actually turned out to be a positive rather than a negative. What I ended up with was a basic but creamy coleslaw that (as I mentioned earlier) did well to balance out the dryness of the schnitzel. A quality side.
When it comes down to it I paid full price ($24) for a pretty basic parma. Had everything that had been promised on the menu been on the plate I would probably be singing its praises for the use of quality ingredients … But as it currently stands I feel pretty short changed. There is a $17 parma night on Tuesdays.
The parma at the Prince Alfred is definitely better than our first visit - If it had’ve come with the promised prosciutto it probably would have been an okay parma, but the lack of such a key ingredient without any explanation as to why was a bitter disappointment. I really like the Prince Alfred - The Location, the staff, the renovations, the general vibe of the pub are all fantastic (I had a jäger bomb there on my wedding day ffs). I want to give them a positive review but I just don’t know how many more chances I can give them.