Plough Hotel, 333 Barkly St, Footscray. Phone: 9687 2878
We attended the opening night party, and we’ve read reviews and comments – including those at Footscray Food Blog.
Now it’s time for us try a meal proper at the new-look Plough Hotel for ourselves.
It’s an early Sunday evening dinner for us, so it’s something of a departure from our usual routine of settling in for the end of weekend night.
At the time we arrive, the landmark pub seems to be about a quarter full, yet it’s already quite noisy. The chatter and hubbub are such that they render the music little more than more background rumbling.
I can imagine that when this place is really packed and jumping, that it may be a matter of shouting instead of conversing.
Still, it’s a cheerful scene and we’re looking forward to some ace food.
There’s never been any doubt that on this particular adventure that I’d lose out to Bennie in the “I’m having the hamburger” stakes.
His “150g veal pattie served w. caramelised onions in seeded mustard, fresh tomato, lettuce, bacon, cheddar cheese & roasted garlic aioli, served w. beer battered chips” ($21) is pretty good.
For all the fancy words, it is just a burger – and he’s more than happy with that. He rates it an 8 1/2 or 9 out of 10.
I try a few hearty mouthfuls of the meat, finding it has great texture and bite but lacks somewhat in the robust flavour department.
The chips are, truth to tell, a little disappointing … in that they’re merely good rather than being the outstanding we feel entitled to expect from this sort of place selling this sort of food.
And in my case, I have to rescue my chips from underneath the chicken parmagiana ($25) that is squatting atop them.
I’m not the first person to raise this issue, and I’ll not be the last.
One question: Why?
Another question: Would a restaurant serve a steak on top of the accompanying chips?
One solution: Ask the customer their preference.
My parma itself is very good and very big.
The chicken is beaut – flavoursome, well cooked and juicy.
The cheese layer on top, too, is wonderful, and there’s quite a bit of basil doing good things amid a sauce made with real tomatoes. The gypsy ham doesn’t seem to add any extra flavour.
The salad of capsicum strands, radish and various greens is OK, but Bennie eats most of it.
But here’s an interesting thing about my otherwise lovely parma – it’s crunchy.
I lift up the cheese topping to discover from whence does the crunch come – only to discover that the cause is raw onion.
Quite a lot of raw onion, actually.
Red onion, mind you, so the flavour does not overpower enjoyment of my meal, especially once I scrape most of it to the side of my plate.
But still, it seems quite odd.
An inquiry made to a staff member elicits the information that the kitchen is aiming for a twist on the typical parma tomato sauce by concocting more of a salsa vibe.
OK, I quite like the sound of that.
But the actual fact of the matter is that there’s nothing salsa-like about my sauce.
What it seems like is fairly typical Napolitana parma sauce studded with quite big chunks of raw onion.
What it seems like is a mistake.
While our meal hasn’t really rocked our world, we like the new Plough heaps and will be back.