Where - 524 Macaulay Road, Kensington
Price - $22
Website - Facebook Page Only
Reviewers – Lee, Nikki & Stefo
ParmaDaze has a bit of a storied history with this place, and by this “place” I mean this address. 524 Macaulay Road Kensington is a building we have visited before. First in 2012 when it was known as Tonik, then again in 2015 when it became the Lost & Found Tattoo Parlour. After Lost & Found closed up (disappointing, as I quite enjoyed their parma) 524 Macaulay opened up again as Mr. Griffiths, a pub that focused on serving authentic, cheese curd laden poutine - I was sure that would be a goer, as who doesn’t love chips covered in cheese and gravy, and whenever we dropped into the nearby Hardimans or Kensington Food Hall Mr. Griffiths always seemed to be pumping.
So imagine my surprise when I find out that Mr. Griffiths has inexplicably gone the way of the Dodo, and in its place is a new bar/restaurant - One named Melba Social with a focus on good food, cocktails and craft beer, and even more importantly… They have a parma on the menu.
So for the third time, we loaded up the parma bus and headed to 524 Macaulay Road, and for the first time to Melba Social.
Of all the iterations of 524 Macaulay Rd we have seen, Melba Social has definitely undergone the most drastic change. The dark walls have been painted a bright white, the whole pub has been brightened up actually. From the wine fridges under the stairs to the art on the walls its clear that Melba Social is definitely going for a “wine bar” feel. They have breathed new lift into the space, and that’s without even going upstairs.
We grabbed a seat and checked the menu…
From the description alone I could tell they were going to put some effort into this one. I was interested to see how the “herb & garlic mixture” would present and the apple slaw definitely excited me to see.
As far as beer goes we didn’t look too far past the options from Stomping Ground, there were some Urban Alley beers on tap also, but when I see Stompo I’m happy. While we were there three of the eight taps (pictured above) didn’t have anything flowing, but it seems that Melba Social is going to have a focus on craft beers, so I’ll definitely keeping an eye on what they put up in the future.
15 or so minutes after placing our orders our parmas arrived at the table …
My first thought when the parma hit the table was “oh jeez it looks small”. And yes, it was a little smaller than we would normally like (I know of a few pubs that would consider this a “half parma”), but none the less we picked up our cutlery and tucked in.
You know what? We were pleasantly surprised! Yeah it was a little small but the chicken breast was bordering on perfect. Pure white, top quality chicken breast coated in a super light yet crispy crumb. The “herb & garlic” mixture advertised on the menu didn’t shine through as much as I had hoped, however it was eclipsed by an unexpected addition - Bolognese sauce.
Now we aren’t strangers to bolognese on a parma here, it’s rare, but it happens - However our history with bolognese parmas has always been one of disappointment. With the exception of the Duke’s Lasagne/Parma hybrid the Chicken Larmagiana, bolognese sauce on parmas usually proves to be a dry, unsatisfying mess.
However not the case with Melba Social. The bolognese was rich, flavoursome, not dry in the slightest and proved an absolute delight on the parma, giving it a traditional, “how mum used to make it” kind’ve vibe.
The cheese had great coverage and was suitably gooey and the ham added yet another dimension to an already flavour packed bird. Any qualms I had about the size of the schnitzel were instantly quashed, and I just enjoyed a good quality, tasty example of a parma.
The chips on this parma were out of this world. The closest thing to perfection we have come across in quite some time. The large serving, plated to the side of the parma was coated in a spicy, almost BBQ chip flavoured seasoning that was absolutely outstanding, not to mention they were served with a side of garlic aioli, supplied without request. I normally love a side of garlic aioli with my chips but to be perfectly honest the BBQ seasoning was so good they didn’t even need the aioli. Amazing.
The apple slaw was a bit contentious, a rich, creamy slaw of cabbage, capsicum and (you guessed it) shredded apple. The general feeling around the table was that it was a little bit too rich and heavy handed on the capsicum… Yet I enjoyed it. Sure it was not as fresh as you would expect an apple slaw to be, yet it in my (unpopular) opinion it was a fine side to the dish.
I’d happily pay $22 for the parma that we received any day of the week. It seemed small on the plate, sure, but I think that was just the fault of a big plate. I didn’t walk away from this meal hungry, and yet almost every element on the plate was a flavour sensation (yes, I’m including the salad, as much as it wasn’t enjoyed by the others at the table I quite liked it). If you are still hesitant Melba Social offers a special of a parma (or a 1.2 rack of ribs) and a pot on Wednesday nights for $18. At that price you’ve got absolutely nothing to lose, and I’d definitely recommend checking it out.
To be honest I wasn’t expecting a whole lot from Melba Social, but this was one of the best parmas we’ve tried in recent memory (definitely so far this year). The new owner’s work on the space has impressed me to no end, the parma was fantastic and I really hope Melba Social sticks around and we aren’t back in 12 months to try the new parma at 524 Macaulay Rd. Definitely worth checking out.
Oh before we finish up the ParmaDaze Discord is slowly building into a neat little community. I’m there pretty much all the time so if you’ve got any questions about the review or just feel like having a chat click here!