Attempt #73 - 'The Cross Keys Hotel'



When? - 19th of October, 2011

Where? - The Cross Keys Hotel. 350 Pascoe Vale Rd. Essendon

Price? – $13 Parma n’ Pot Wednesdays in the Sports Bar

Barry? - No

Website? -

Reviewers – Lee, Pat, Tony[/info]


A quiet attempt this week - A last minute change to Wednesday parma night left us with a smaller group than usual, but hey, A parma is a parma! so we saddled up the parma horses and headed to the cross keys (yeah, there are parma horses now, for the times when it wouldn’t be economically viable to take the parma bus - the fuel economy on that thing is a nightmare)

The Cross Keys is one of those pubs that I’ve always been aware of, but never actually been to, but seeing as we were looking for a local parma this week and have pretty much exhausted our parma options in the Essendon area, the Cross Keys it was!

Much like a TARDIS, the Cross Keys is bigger on the inside than it seems on the outside, a massively open space is home to a Sports Bar, a bistro, a TAB, a pokies room and a pretty great outdoor drinks area/outdoor TAB. If you are a fan of TV’s then this is the place for you, from where we sat I counted no less than forty TV’s surrounding us (including those in the TAB) playing everything you could imagine - lots of sport, this would be a great pub to come for a beer and to watch the footy, as there are so many TV’s so you could look almost anywhere and not miss a minute of the game.

On arrival we had the option of sitting in the bistro and getting their off-the-menu parma for $23.90, or pulling up a pew in the sports bar and trying their Wednesday Parma n’ Pot special for $13 - It was hard to justify heading in the bistro when the sportsbar counterpart was more than $10 cheaper, so we stuck to the sportsbar, ordered our chicken and awaited its arrival, before too long the chicken fell before us.

The first thing that struck me about this parma was the obvious mix up in topping layer order, your standard chicken parmigiana goes schnitzel-ham-napoli-cheese (or schnitzel-napoli-ham-cheese depending on where you go). The cross keys threw that notion out the window and opted for schnitzel-ham-cheese-napoli with the Napoli sitting on top, I know of a couple of pubs that do the SHCN system, but this is the first one we have reviewed. As far as I’m concerned all the ingredients are there, so we tucked in!

The schnitzel was small, there’s no sugar coating it, it was plain small, but it was real un-processed chicken and it was a decent thickness. The crumbs were thin and there was no attempt at hiding a thin schnitz under a thick layer of crumbing. There was minimal nudity, the cheese and ham were plentiful and the napoli had quite a unique flavour that, although tasty, was a little overpowering at times - whether this is a result of it having top billing I can’t say.

Overall it was a tasty bit of chicken, if only it were bigger it’d get much higher marks, but for $13 with you can’t really complain.

The chips were standard. Your usual pub chips cooked to golden brown perfection, however a lack of seasoning (and no salt on the table … Although there is more to say about that later) left them a little bland.

The salad was refreshing - served in a separate bowl was a garden salad of tomato, lettuce, carrot, onion, cucumber and a creamy caesar-ish dressing. It was fresh, crisp, and a fitting accompaniment to the parma

As reviewer Pat said in his quote, “I want another one”, and to be honest, so did I … So this happened -

Second parma! This one doesn’t count to the review, consider it an added extra, like a DVD commentary track or collection of scenes where the actors laugh while trying to say their lines.

The second time around was almost exactly like the first, the only difference I noted was a few extra chips and the bar girl gave us salt and pepper shakers this time - this helped the chips out a lot, and had we gotten the salt the first time around they probably would have fared better.

Overall the Cross Keys offers up a tasty parma, the SHCN system of topping layers didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would, and to be honest the major issue with this bird was the size - Although if you are here on a Wednesday and are still hungry after your first parma, do what we did and get a second one! at $13 with a free pot two parmas in the sports bar come out to pretty much the same price as one parma in the bistro, definitely worth considering.

Parma - 6.67
Chips - 4.00
Salad - 7.00
Value - 7.33
Total - 6.07

The search continues…

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