Where? - 30 Hunter St. Sydney CBD
Price? - $18
Reviewers – Lee & Nikki
Ahh Sydney. Land of Opera Houses, Harbour Bridges and one way streets with nary a hook turn to be seen.
As promised in our 300th parma review we had a little trip planned to Sydney last week, and what would an interstate holiday be without sampling the local parmie offering? (yes, it's parmie up here. Although it tastes like dirt in my mouth, When in Rome speak like the Romans do).
But where to start? I took to Reddit and asked around, and while I got a lot of fantastic suggestions from the people of Sydney they were all a bit far out for us to Uber to. We were staying pretty central to the CBD and wanted a parmie in the vicinity.
From there I stumbled onto this Urban List article about Sydney's best parmies. It seemed to exactly what I was after and wouldn't you know it? The only entry on the list in the CBD was The Grand Hotel. With quite a positive spiel my mouth was watering just from the description -
One thing the Sydney CBD has over the Melbourne CBD is the sheer amount of pubs per capita. Back in Melbourne if you wan't a strip of pub after pub you're better off venturing to the outskirts - Fitzroy or Richmond or Brunswick. Sydney CBD seemingly has a new watering hole every hundred meters, and while not many of them actually have a parmie on the menu, it was refreshing to have so many options.
We arrived at the Grand just on lunchtime on a Friday, and hot damn ... This place was popular.
We started by venturing upstairs (pictured above) a huge mistake as it was absolutely packed to capacity. A shame, as upstairs seemed to have a better, more craft focussed range of beers on tap than downstairs did. Disappointed, we trudged downstairs to a smaller, yet similar front bar.
Which was also full.
Luckily we managed to snag a table on the street, If you look at the exterior image at the top of the page you'll see a series of wooden tables jutting from the front of the building - we were there. A decent spot if you're big on people watching, Would be quite easy to sink a few pints and watch the hustle and bustle of the world go by on a lazy afternoon. Plus they had coat hooks, always bonus points for coat hooks.
We checked the menu and spied our target -
Sounds delish, and with a novelty option thrown in for good measure! However as good as the deluxe parmie sounded, we both opted for the more traditional "Grand Parmy" this time around.
I ordered at the bar and grabbed a pint, I was starting to get a little concerned at the half-hour point, but they were extremely busy, I was happy to grant them a little leeway. At the 35 minute mark our parmies arrived from the kitchen...
At first glance it looked alright! The addition of a lemon slice was something that we rarely see in Melbourne, and I would assume is a carryover from Sydney pub food being primarily about the schnitzel and not the parmie. I gave the lemon a squeeze, picked up my cutlery and tucked in.
The schnitzel was real chicken, but there was a big issue with crumb fallaway. The slightly-too-thick crumbs had practically zero grip on the bird itself and fell off the second the knife hit the chicken. Other than that the schnitzel was fine - Nothing especially noteworthy, but nothing to report home about.
The promises made of double smoked ham wrote a cheque that the toppings definitely did not cash. Yes, the ham was there - but it was barely detectable and carried very little flavour - None of it resembling any kind of smokiness.
Much like the ham the napoli was there, but didn't offer much of a flavour profile. It was fine, although a few more spoonfuls would have been appreciated.
The cheese was probably the best of the bunch. Applied liberally and grilled to golden brown perfection.
The pub chips were pretty standard. Could have used some seasoning and an extra sixty seconds in the fryer, but they did their job - An extra squeeze of the supplied lemon gave them a zesty tang that helped me forgive the lack of salt and/or a dipping sauce
The salad was probably the biggest disappointment on the plate. An unloved pile of bitter, wilted greens with the lightest drizzle of oil. One forkful was enough for me on the salad front.
$18 is a decent price, and this is an acceptable parmie. If it were over $20 I'd probably be a little more miffed, but it was fine for the price. I didn't see any advertising for a particular parmie night.
Had I not been recommended this parmie as one of "Sydney's Best" I probably would have been satisfied with it. Not overwhelming, not underwhelming, just a solid little meal for a decent price.
However, as it was supposed to be one of the best I was left a little disappointed. I think there's some blame to be shared on my part - I should have listened to the people of Reddit for their suggestions and not some random listicle, or perhaps the "Deluxe Parmy" was the way to go instead - I do love a bit of chorizo.
I'm not gonna officially score this one, as it wouldn't be fair to put it on the ladder with all of the Melbourne parmas, But if I did I would estimate it fall somewhere around 5.5 or thereabouts - The horrid salad definitely hurting its score.
The Grand Hotel had a great vibe, friendly staff and good beers (upstairs), its a shame their parmie missed the mark the way it did.
Other than that I had a fantastic time in Sydney. Doyle's on the Beach was an absolutely phenomenal meal and some of the best seafood I've eaten in my life - So that's proof right there they can produce some quality grub
Catch you Friday for what promises to be a very interesting Melbourne-based redo.