When? - 28th of July, 2011
Where? - The Exchange Hotel, 39 Bay St. Port Melbourne
Price? – $24.90
Barry? - No
Website? - http://www.theexchangehotel.net.au
Reviewers – Adam, Daniel, Ella, Lee, Nikki, Nugget, Pat, Sven
Okay, I’m going to pull a Quentin Tarantino with todays review, I’m going to show you the end first, then we are going to whip around and show you the events leading up to how we got there.
Parma - 9.06
Chips - 7.75
Salad - 7.06
Value - 7.19
Total - 8.03
For those keeping score, that puts the parma you are about to read about in the new #1 position.
I love you Pumpkin.
I love you Honeybunny.
The exchange fell onto our radar through general internet browsing, a lot of times I will open up the Map, pick an area where there is no dot, and check to see if there are any pubs in the area that serve up a parma. The Exchange was picked and we headed down.
I made the booking via the websites online Dimmi booking system, which had disastrous results last time we used it to book Hardimans, however we gave it another shot and it went off without a hitch, even calling to increase the number of people attending was no issue. Dimmi, you have been forgiven.
We arrived at The Exchange and took our seats in the dining room, first of all this is a beautifully restored, down to earth pub - I’m going to be using the term ‘down to earth’ a lot in this review as it describes the place perfectly, a lot of restored gastro pubs carry with them a lot of inherent wank that is very difficult to shake, yet The Exchange is nothing like that - It’s a beautiful space with a fantastic menu, wine list, cocktail list and selection of beers but the staff are casual, friendly and happy to help in any way possible. The non-parma part of the menu looked damn amazing and I will be definitely be dropping in for their Sunday roast in the near future.
Despite seeing a burger that looked absolutely phenomenal, we ordered our parmas and eagerly awaited their arrival - I was about 3/4 through my first pint when the food arrived and … well, they say a picture’s worth a thousand words.
I Just wish I had’ve had my good camera for this attempt - the iPhone camera just doesn’t do it justice.
The parmigiana itself came out on its own, massive, square plate. Everyone’s parma differed a little in shape/size but they were all massive chunks of bird. The crumbing was absolutely amazing - home made crumbs so good that I didn’t even care there was a slight showing of schnitzel nudity. The menu made mention of ‘2 cheeses’, I’m not sure what exactly those cheeses were, but they were tasty, in abundance and cooked to perfection. The ham was shaved fine and absolutely delicious without being too overpowering, there was plenty of napoli under the cheese, possibly bordering on too much at times, and it was a touch too tomato-ey but this is only an extremely minor complaint to a near perfect parma. As for the quality of the chicken breast itself, I’ll let the cross section do the talking -
Now that’s a bird!
The thickness of the chicken in this photo throws the perspective off a little, but just understand that the chicken you are looking at is at least an inch thick, not counting the other toppings. The chicken to crumb to topping ratio was spot on. The breast itself was absolutely amazing, juicy, succulent, thick and natural. If this parma was a woman I’m pretty sure she’d look like Keeley Hazell
The chips and salad were both served in there own separate bowls, so the chips stayed fresh and crispy - they were minimally seasoned, there was salt and pepper on the table but they were still a bit bland - until the staff, without being asked, brought out a bunch of individual dipping pots of tomato sauce specifically for the chips. Loved this touch and loved the service. By the way, chips with tomato sauce is an amazing combination - I’m surprised nobody has thought of doing that before!
As I said earlier, the salad was served in its own bowl, a basic garden salad with lettuce, onion, cherry tomatoes and a healthy splash of balsamic vinegar - It’s hard to wow anyone with a garden salad, but the separate bowl and cherry tomatoes were a nice touch, even the reviewers who rarely give their salad a sniff dove into the bowl with gusto and came out scoring highly. Very nice.
The Exchange is a beautiful, down to earth pub that has a tick in every box, Unless you are reading this review on your phone while you are on your way to The Exchange I’m unsure why you are still reading. This is an amazing example of a parma that any enthusiast should try. It’s priced at $24.50, which is definitely up there on the price scale, but for a parma of this quality I was more than happy to pay it, and nobody left hungry. The separate plates were a fantastic touch that kept everything fresh and the individual sauce pots sealed the deal. This is how parma’s should be done.