A Melbourne based writer who is a travel junkie, dedicated foodie and emerging photographer.
Published April 1st 2014
Enjoy Prodigious Parmas @ the Portland
My partner Dave and I recently dined at the Portland Hotel, located at the intersection of Russell and Little Collins Street, Melbourne, prior to seeing some fantastic comedy in the Pool Room, upstairs at the Portland. (In fact I was surprised to see that the Portland had a number of comedy acts playing that night in different rooms, all part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival).
To my mind, the Portland has a rather dark, moody, and not particularly inviting exterior. But if you can get past that, what you'll find inside won't disappoint.
Exterior view of the hotel
The interior of the Portland is much brighter and more friendly than the exterior.
Inside the Portland Hotel
The bar in the Portland's restaurant
We've eaten at the Portland Hotel before, and what I like about it is that it doesn't pretend to be something it's not. This is a pub, serving pub food, not a pub pretending to be a fine dining establishment. This is not to belittle the food; they are simple, tasty, generous meals, served quickly and capably. That's exactly what I would hope for and expect from a pub.
[ADVERT]Interestingly, and perhaps with an eye towards the tourist market, the Portland's menu includes an 'Aussie Inspired' selection, which embraces such delicacies as pan fried emu dumplings ($17) and sweet and sour crocodile and pork spring rolls ($17). Otherwise, you'll find many pub favourites, including fish and chips (though given a fancier name) ($23), hamburger ($23) (ditto re the name), and steak (from $29.50, depending on the weight).
Dave had done a lot of exercise during the day of our visit to the Portland, and had an appetite to match. Consequently he decided to lash out on the 'parma' - 'Parmesan and Japanese crumbed chicken breast, double smoked gypsy ham, virgin mary napoli sauce, 3 cheese glaze, chips and salad' ($24.50). This meal was ENORMOUS! So if you've got a largish appetite, this is the meal for you. Dave ate every skerrick (well, except the handful of chips that made their way over to my plate), and looked very, very satisfied with his meal.
The enormous Parma
I went for something a little more restrained with the cumin and sesame crusted lamb fillets served with watermelon and Persian feta Greek salad, tzatziki and aged balsamic ($27). The dish was nicely presented, with three strips of lamb salad resting on the salad. I'm not sure the watermelon with the Greek salad quite worked for me; it felt a bit like the salad was having an identity crisis. Was it a summer salad, or was it a Greek salad? But overall, I enjoyed the dish. The lamb was beautifully cooked and perfectly seasoned.
We then decided to share a dessert. We were a bit tempted by the malt infused creme brûlée ($10), but went instead for the honey and thyme rice pudding ($10), which came with ginger ice cream and ginger snap crumble. This was delicious - creamy and rich - with the sweetness of the rice pudding balanced out nicely by the slight sharpness of the ginger.
Overall, this was a very satisfying and enjoyable meal, and reasonable value for the meals we had. We would happily return to the Portland.