Where - Star Circus, Docklands
Price - $26
Website - https://urbanalley.com.au
Reviewers – Lee, Nikki & Stefo
Occasionally we pick pubs for pretty selfish reasons, and this week’s was about as selfish as they come. I had heard that the folks behind Holey Moley had opened a video arcade/bar in the Docklands, and in researching the arcade I noticed that a new pub had just opened right next to it. I wanted to visit the arcade, I always want to visit a pub … End of story!
Located directly in front of the box office for the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel, It wasn’t until we arrived that I realised that we have actually visited this pub before - Back in 2015 when it was known as the Harbour Town Hotel. Just when I think we’re done with redo’s for a while we unwittingly get sucked back in!
As its a pub with a new name/ownership team I’m not gonna treat it as a regular redo and harp back on what it was like when it was the Harbour Town, if you want to read the full story click on the link above to go to the full review, but the TLDR is that it wasn’t very good. Horrible quality, a giant chicken nugget with parma toppings - Literally anything that Urban Alley puts on a plate will be an improvement on Harbour Town … I hope.
Urban Alley is impressively huge, their website states that it can hold 690 people and I’d be inclined to agree. I don’t quite know if it’s size works for it or against it though, as it’d take an impressive crowd to even start making this mammoth pub feel somewhat busy. When we arrived it was 7ish on a Thursday and there were about five or six tables of people scattered around - in any other pub this would feel relatively busy, however with how insanely big Urban Alley is it still felt pretty quiet.
We grabbed one of the many open tables and checked the menu…
Looks good! We started the meal with an entree serve of cheese and garlic bread (pretty tasty!) then ordered our main event at the bar.
As expected, the tap list at Urban Alley Brewery is a selection of Urban Alley beers, none of which I had the pleasure of enjoying before last night’s review.
If UA beers aren’t your thing they also have some guest beers on tap, at the time of review they had 4 Pines, Pirate Life, Pressman’s Cider and Brookvale Ginger Beer in addition to the beers listed above.
As far as the beers go I went for a pint of the Urban Ale. As the description above suggests it was crisp and clean, super easy drinking - a sessionable beer you could stay on all night.
Reviewer Stefo went for something a little fancier with a pint of the “Blush”, and to be honest I had a bit of beer envy. Bursting with fruity flavour, definitely the tastier of the two.
After a 15 minute wait our parmas arrived at the table…
When the parma first hit the table we were all impressed. It looked great. Massive bit of chicken, heaps of toppings with the rare appearence of shredded ham, plenty of chips, salad and even a steak knife thrown in so you know its gonna be a hearty meal.
Then we started eating it, quietly at first as we were all starving, then after a few mouthful the opinions starting coming out … It’s just so bland.
Schnitzel quality was fine, it was a big schnitzel, bordering on overcooked but okay overall. A heap of toppings, but nothing had much of a flavour profile at all - I was really looking forward to the thick cut shredded ham, but even isolating a bit and eating it on its own it was hard to taste.
No doubts the parma was big. If you’re after a massive feed and don’t care too much about flavour then this may be fine for you!
The chips were the highlight of the dish. A massive pile of beer battered, perfectly cooked chunky chips. Extraordinarily crunchy on the outside and soft pillowy potato inside, if they had’ve been at all seasoned when they hit the table they’d be on track for a perfect score. Damn good.
The salad was a disappointment. Lettuce and tomato with a dressing that had an almost seafood flavour. It was hard to pin down, but wasn’t pleasant.
As far as I’m aware Urban Alley doesn’t have any cheap parma nights on the books as yet. They do have a happy hour every weekday (5-7pm, $5 pots $10 pints) which isn’t a bad deal, but no bargains on food that I am aware of.
The Urban Alley parma reminds me of the Docklands itself. Very pretty to look at with the outside appearance of a lot going on, but nothing much under the surface when you dig deeper. It’s better than it was when it was Harbour Town Hotel, no doubt, but there’s nothing driving me back to have this parma again. The beers were super enjoyable, the pub is probably one of the most inviting establishments I’ve ever been to in the Docklands, but the parma (other than the chips) was a bit of a let down. We walked out full, but not satisfied.