Where - 128 Nicholson Street. Fitzroy
Price - $27.90
Website - https://www.standrewshotel.com.au
Reviewers – Lee & Nikki
First things first - We were advised by the (super friendly and attentive) staff of the St. Andrews as we ordered that a new menu was being introduced today. Literally a day after we ate this parma for review. I can’t find details on the new menu just yet but will update as soon as I know whether or not the parma made the cut.
The last few weeks of parma reviews have definitely been interesting here at ParmaDaze. We’ve had a Pizza place, a Parma Festival, A cafe, a food truck and another Pizza place in recent weeks, yet we haven’t had a good ol’ fashioned pub parma since our visit to the Oxford Scholar back at the start of May - And as interesting and unique as this last month of parmas has been, I was really craving a good old school parma at a pub.
So I did what I always do when I’m a bit stuck for ideas. Fired up Google Maps, typed in “pub” and just scrolled around. Hovering over Fitzroy something interesting caught my eye - A pub name I didn’t recognise. The St. Andrews Hotel.
I zoomed in and realised what was up. A pub we had visited in the past has changed its name. Fitzroy’s Pumphouse Hotel has rebranded itself as the St. Andrews Hotel.
I always liked the Pumphouse. You can read about our 2012 visit here. So was curious to see how things had changed. (I also noticed on the menu that they have recently won “Burger of the Year” at the 2018 AHA Vic State Awards for Excellence, so their pub grub can’t be all that bad. We loaded up the Parma Bus and headed to Fitzroy.
The interior of the pub hasn’t changed much since the Pumphouse days. It’s had a bit of a spruce-up but the core layout is still the same - and that’s not a bad thing. The St. Andrews is a warm, cosy pub that you would be happy to call your local.
We were tempted to grab a feed in the front bar, however the call of the cracking open fire in the dining area was too good to resist. We moved through, grabbed a table and checked the menu -
$27.90 is pricey for a parma … St. Andrews better be bringing their A game.
If on the very unlikely chance you aren’t feeling like a parma when you visit the St. Andrews it’s worth noting that the rest of the menu is quite unique, with a large focus on game meats. Venison steaks & buffalo burgers both sounded super tempting, but we were there for a reason and placed the order for our parmas.
The tap list at St. Andrews is fine, Carlton, 4 Pines, Fat Yak, Good Island, Stella Artois, McCracken’s Amber Ale along with a rotating tap. It’s not the craftiest of selections and may leave some people wanting, but should do the job.
I grabbed a pint and waited for our parmas to arrive. After reviewing close to 300 parmas in Melbourne I think its safe to say the average time to put one together and get it to the table is about 20 minutes, give or take. We were the only customers in the dining area at the time we ordered so you would think 20 minutes would be about right.
20 minutes came, and 20 minutes passed. At the half hour mark I started to get concerned, and when 40 minutes ticked by since ordering and the staff, while checking if we needed more drinks, commented that “the food will be out soon” I was getting worried.
At about the 45 minute mark the parmas arrived at our table. As is tradition with visiting a pub we have visited in the past, lets first have a look at our visit to the Pumphouse before moving on to last night’s visit to St. Andrews..
The Pumphouse parma as of 2012 -
The St Andrews Hotel parma as of 2019 -
Well even though there was a wait I could not fault the schnitzel for being cold. This thing was burning hot, to the point that it needed significant cooling before being suitable to eat. Steam billowed out of the chicken breast with each cut - A definite good sign, nothing worse than a cold parma.
The chicken breast was top notch quality. Pure white, juicy, well cooked and (of course) hot chicken breast. The crumbing was sparingly applied and had the potential to be great had it been a little crispier, they were quite soggy and lacked any sort of crunch that you might be hoping for.
Now we get to the toppings, and let me tell you, this is where things get strange.
So as you can see in the photos, above the ham but below the cheese on the parma were some dark slivers. dotted all over the top, as if they had been grilled yet they remained below the layer of barely melted cheese. At first glance I thought St. Andrews were trying something unique, maybe they had dotted some sun dried tomatoes around the parma for a but of a rustic vibe.
However once I tucked in I realised they weren’t sun dried tomatoes. it was just more cheese. Crispy, hard, almost burnt flecks of cheese. Under a fresh layer of cheese.
I looked to Reviewer Nik and she was not impressed. She had gotten it worse than I, rather than flecks of darkness she had an entire layer of bunt cheese with a fresh layer on it. Then I remembered the 45 minute wait. A 45 minute wait for a veritably empty pub. Something had gone wrong in the kitchen.
Now this is purely speculation as I can’t be sure, but it definitely looks as if the parmas were done, got put under the grill to brown off the cheese, got forgotten about, burnt (as cheese tends to do) but rather than start fresh they’ve whacked a new layer of cheese on top and hoped we wouldn’t notice.
We did notice, and to be honest it took a lot away from the dish.
The ham was tasty, the napoli was fine (although mostly soaked into the crumbs) but the weird cheese kind’ve spoiled the dish for us. Very unfortunate as things had been great leading up to that point, and with the high calibre of ingredients used this definitely had potential to be a great feed.
The chips were basically what you would find at a fish & chip shop. Needed a bit of salt but otherwise fine. Served hot like the parma. Nothing to write home about but at the same time not bad in any way.
The salad was a simple, understated garden salad with cherry tomatoes, onion and cucumber. Fresh and crisp with a liberal dollop of dressing it did it’s job well. Not trying to hard but nailing the simple elements well.
I struggle assigning a value rating at the best of times, but this is even harder. $27.90 is getting expensive for a parma, and while I can’t fault St. Andrews on the quality of ingredients used, what we were delivered was sub-par, and paying such a premium I don’t want hurried cover-ups in the kitchen after a mistake.
I was getting impatient after waiting 45 minutes for our meal, however I would rather wait longer and get a well produced parma than get what we received last night. All of the staff members we interacted with last night were great. Attentive and friendly, can’t fault them - If they had come up to us and explained that there was an issue and there would be a slight wait on our meals I would have been happy to kick back in front of the fire with a beer and wait for a well prepared parma to be delivered.
After all that I’d recommend visiting St. Andrews. Its a parma with potential and I’m willing to chalk our visit up to a rare hiccup in the kitchen. Its a great pub with a cosy atmosphere (great for the winter). The score below will reflect the parma that we received last night, however I will definitely consider dropping in again soon to see if what happened was a once off or a continuing issue. I may not be as forgiving a second time around.