The Cricketers in Port Melbourne fills a parma-sized hole
Now if there’s one thing in Australia I missed while living in the UK for the past four years it was an absolutely bang-on true blue Aussie chicken parma. They just don’t make them like they do here. Don’t get me wrong the Brits do a bloody good Sunday roast (with all the trimmings), but we resorted to DIY chicken parmigiana many a time to get us through.I can tell you where they do a great one, however, and that is at The Cricketers in Port Melbourne.
Originating in 1876, The Cricketers has always been a local favourite and recently the Bon Vivant Group has taken ownership, running the show for the past four or so months. You may recognise places like The Montague, South Melbourne, which the group just sold, or fine dining restaurant Clove Lane in Sydney, also under ownership.
The classic chicken parmigiana is considered to be a benchmark meal in most Australian pubs, setting the standard for the entire menu. Customers have raved about The Cricketers’ parma and we just had to have a taste to check the facts ourselves.
Located on Cruickshank Street (no, it’s not Harry Potter related) in Port Melbourne, the pub sits on a quiet street with street parking out front. Walking down the hallway we’re immediately at ease in its familiar English pub vibe. It’s cosy; there are fires; it has the right kind of pub smells. There are ample spaces to choose from including the front bar, dining room (table service), restaurant (table service) and indoor/outdoor courtyard, which we settle in. The open plan and nautical theme make for the perfect Sunday location; I’m immediately at ease. Even more so when we read the neon lettering above the outdoor bar, glowing red atop green leaves; ‘Sit down and let the gin do the talking’.
We’re there for the parma, so we are only provided the wine menu to peruse. There are some great choices and I’m tempted by a Drouhin Beaujolais-Villages but not enough company to split the bottle with. I opt for a 2017 Riposte “The Dagger” Pinot Noir from Adelaide Hills, anticipating it to be a good weight against the tomato-based chicken dish soon to arrive on our table.These guys know their wine and back in the front bar they’re using a system to prevent or at least slow down the oxygen getting into the wine. It’s a cosy bar, even more so with the open fire, and here is where the football is playing.
Although we went with the intention of watching the football, the outdoor area was too tempting with its inviting atmosphere to unwind in. We questioned why sports weren’t playing on a suitably large TV screen nearby, however live music kicked off at 4pm in the form of a ukulele and talented singer. The pub has two regular musicians on rotation playing from 4pm every Sunday, tossing in a fresh face every so often.
The Cricketers is certainly a local favourite, and the perfect winter afternoon escape. My only criticism was that it is not walking distance from my own home.