Where - 33 Errol St. North Melbourne
Price - $22
Reviewers - Lee & Nikki
Ahhh the Town Hall Hotel. Many nights of my misspent youth I could be found propped within the walls of this pub in the wee hours of the morning. Our last visit to the Town Hall was back in 2011, and to be honest in my mind I always thought it scored pretty well - Yet in browsing some of our older reviews recently I noticed that it only scored a measly 5.91, Yet if you read the accompanying review I have nothing but positive things to say about it.
It was definitely an anomaly, either I was overwhelmingly positive for a relatively crappy parma or the Town Hall had been mis-scored all those years ago and actually deserved a higher final score. Either way it had to be rectified, so last night we headed back to Errol Street and the Town Hall Hotel.
If Mick Jagger were a pub, he would be the Town Hall Hotel. The place just bleeds old school cool. You could spend a few hours just sipping on beers and appreciating the immeasurable cacophony of memorabilia decorating the walls.
When we arrived the front bar was already packed, so we moved through to the dining room, managed to score a table and checked the menu…
One thing I always forget about the Town Hall is that beyond the dining room there is a fantastic beer garden hidden away, From the front of the pub you would never expect it, however if you push your way past the hungry diners there is an oasis out the back just waiting for a pleasant Sunday afternoon sesh.
In looking for a photo of the exterior of the Town Hall for this review I came across this painting, apparently drawn in 1972 -
Now it may just be me, But I think a firehouse red pub such as that looks friggin’ badass. Talk about eye catching. I reckon a return to the original red shown above would be absolutely amazing. #makethetownhallredagain!
There is a more extensive tap list in the front bar than compared to the dining room bar, however the dining room at the very least had Stone & Wood and Carlton Draught on tap as well as a few other options. Bigger selection up the front, but I was happy with what the dining room had on offer!
As is tradition with pubs we have visited in the past, first we will look at the 2011 Town Hall parma before moving on to the one we had last night -
First things first, the schnitzel has almost doubled in size compared to this parmas 2011 counterpart. I know a common complaint about parmas is that they are placed on top of the chips but when a parma engulfs the plate such as this one does I don’t know what else they can do!
Pure, fresh chicken breast with homestyle crumbs and cooked to perfection. It actually smelled like the home-made parmas Mum used to make. The chicken was thick and juicy with some size and shape variance amongst the parmas at the table, this was a true blue house made affair for sure.
Now the toppings are where the Town Hall’s parma really shines, and there’s one element that stands out above the rest - the bacon.
Make no mistake. This is a bacon lovers parma. Underneath the healthy coverage of cheese are lashings of rich, smokey bacon, a flavour that permeates the entire dish.
Hold on. I have just remembered why this parma scored so poorly in 2011. We had a couple of bacon haters at the table that absolutely killed the average with their low scores. How could you hate bacon? What a bunch of weirdos.
Anyway. As I said there was a fantastic coverage of cheese. It maybe could have spent an extra minute under the grill to brown it off a little more, but that is a quibble so minor its barely worth mentioning. The napoli sauce was fresh and chunky, although with the smokey bacon flavours being so strong the flavour of the sauce got a bit lost in the shuffle.
You may have to take my word for it that underneath that sizeable schnitzel a decent serving of chips was waiting. After a few bites of parma I managed to re-shuffle the plate so everyone could get some air and the chips were saved from their soggy fate. And they were good! Crispy, well seasoned, and the pot of tomato sauce pictured above arrived on all parmas as standard, with zero prompting from us. Delightful.
The salad reminded me a lot of the salad from the multi-golden chook winning Imperial Hotel, an onion-heavy rocket leaf salad with a healthy serve of freshly grated parmesan cheese, and the Town Hall took it a step further by adding some slivers of fresh pear into the mix. It was refreshing, flavoursome and points for originality.
When we first tried the Town Hall parma back in 2011 it cost us $18, it has been 8 years since then and although the price has jumped up an extra $4 the schnitzel has almost doubled in size, so to be honest I have zero issues absorbing the price hike. In 2019 paying just $22 for a delicious parma that you will struggle to finish seems pretty cheap to me. No issues at all paying it again. I had a look around online and can’t find any listing of a cheap parma night at the Town Hall, but I may be wrong - Let me know if they have one I’m not aware of!
The 2019 Town Hall parma is the 2011 Town Hall parma cranked up to 11. It shouldn’t have scored a lowly 5.91 back then and in the time since then they have done nothing but improved upon it.
It was an outrage that this parma hasn’t graced our top 10 since 2011, but we have righted a wrong finally given the Town Hall the score it deserves. Definitely check this one out.
If you like bacon.
If you don’t like bacon you might wanna give it a miss.
But still go to the pub.
It’s a cool pub.