I admit it, it was an awful week. I was in struggle town. So when my mates R and N of parma smash fame decided it was time for parma and drinks afterwards, I dragged my sorry arse out of the house. Yeah, life’s pretty hard when your mates want to eat out with you, eh? *wink*
N and I racked our brains, and I consulted Urbanspoon. Based on a review I saw on Spatula, Spoon and Saturday, I suggested we try Coopers Inn. In all honesty, I can’t really think of many places in the CBD that serve a good parma – I usually think of North Melbourne pubs, Carlton, and the outskirts of the city centre when I think good pub food. Coopers Inn is on Little Lonsdale St, and all of us were planning to get drinks at Little Peninsula which was on the same street. Laziness got the best of me.
The lads chose chicken parmas, N had the bangers and mash, and I somewhat bravely had the slow cooked pork belly. Dared by N, I asked if the parma was bigger than my face (I am a small lass, much to my disappointment). He didn’t bat an eyelid and immediately confirmed that yes indeed, it most certainly was.
R waxed lyrical about the cheese and oregano, but later recanted the parma’s deliciousness on account of it being somewhat dry. T was disappointed in the distinct lack of attention paid to the salad (no dressing, not particularly crisp or fresh), and found his chips too salty. I think the worst dish however was the pork belly, and it pains me to say so.
This could not have been slow cooked unless that meant leeching all the moisture out of the meat – the pork was very dry (I don’t think even my parents have cooked such a dry roast) and the crackling could only be broken once I soaked it in the gravy. As N pointed out, I should have been handed a steak knife. I’ve had some killer pork belly before – most notably at Meshiya (also in the city) where the fat and meat both possess that silken texture as you bite or cut into it. The most recent time I had pork belly was at the Northcote Social Club where they didn’t quite get the crackling right, but the meat was satisfactory. Such a shame as the mash was just heavenly – so velvety and it even had mustard seeds. I finished my entire meal, on account of hunger, it must be admitted.
The beer selection is okay – there is a good choice, and I had the Matilda Bay alpha pale ale which is totally for the hop-lovers. After having this beer, the Fat Yak will taste inferior, I warn you! Overall, the Coopers Inn is a pretty laidback place and reasonably priced. If you want passable pub food, then I would recommend it, but if your taste is more discerning, I suggest you go elsewhere. I’d eat here again, but the search for a really good CBD chicken parma continues.
Thankfully, good tunes and cheap but very drinkable cocktails awaited us all at Little Peninsula, a few blocks away.