When? - 22nd of September, 2010
Where? - 252 Union Rd. Ascot Vale
Price? - $19.50
Barry? - Yes
Website? - http://www.unionhotel252.com.au/
Reviewers - Adam Y, Bec, Cale, Emma, Grace, Kathleen, Lee, Luke, Maz, Nikki, Pat, Stefo, Tony Q, Wade[/info]
We viisited The Union again in April 2013 - Check out the re-review here after you’ve finished with this one.
The Union holds a special place in my heart, as it my Dad’s watering hole when I was a kid. I remember my Mum sitting out in the car while she sent me in to drag him out after he had some post-work drinks with his mates. His claim of ‘I’ll just finish this pot’ was made every week, then after he finished I’d see him sneakily order another one so he could spend more time with his buddies while my Mum got more and more angry waiting for him in the car. It was the first pub I can really remember being in, and the smell of spilt booze and cigarette smoke filling the place is something I can still remember to this day.
Fast forward about 15 years and I’m walking up those stairs again, this time to review the Union’s Chicken Parma. The bistro is virtually unrecognizable, totally renovated with a massive outdoor dining area, cosy lounge area and bistro bustling with patrons.
we had a table for ten booked, but when 14 reviewers rocked up we had to move out into the beer garden. I was worried it was going to be freezing but to my surprise the industrial strength heater they have mounted on the wall was more than enough to keep us warm … it even bordered on getting too hot at times.
Drink selection was standard, they had Bulmers cider on tap, my personal favourite, which has pretty much become standard at Melbourne pubs, a fact I couldn’t be happier about. They even offered me a glass of ice on the side when I ordered a pot. Perfect! This is how Bulmers should be served and the only thing that is annoying about how readily available it is getting is that its very rare to find a place that know how to serve it correctly.
We ordered our parmas and took our seats - there was a game of poker going on in the middle of the beer garden which threw me, but it was fun to see something different going on and gave us something to watch while we waited.
Parmas took a little while to come out, but thats understandable seeing as we ordered 14 of the things - they all came out pretty much simultaneously, and a bunch of hungry parma-goers tucked in.
First of all it was great quality chicken, pure chicken breast, thick and juicy, with a great chip/crumb ratio - the crumbs were a little soggy but thats nothing to really complain about. But there was something wrong with the parma that nobody could quite put their finger on, something either in the cheese, the ham or the napoli tasted, for lack of a better term, ‘funky’. I tried each ingredient separately trying to pinpoint what the culprit was - the cheese tasted fine, the napoli tasted fine, my prime suspect would be the ham - it was the circular, processed ham you get in packs at the supermarket, from what we could tell something about it just wasn’t right and it put a funky taste all through the parma itself. Not a parma killer though - there was a great coverage of toppings with very little nude schnitzel.
The chips were minimal, totally eclipsed by the parma it was rare to find one that hadn’t been smooshed by chicken, they were soggy but not terrible, if there was a bigger serving they would’ve passed muster.
If I had to describe the salad in one word, that word would be ‘Onion’ there was a lot of onion in the salad, mine (in the photo above) actually had a small amount of onion through it compared to some of the other plates. I love onion in my salad, and I love onion on my parma itself (a lot of the time i will take the onion out of the salad and put it on the parma … delicious!) but thirteen other people at the table weren’t as onion mad as I am. Other than that it was a big serving of salad, with shredded carrot, tomato, lettuce, some plates had cucumber and some didn’t, and a splash of balsamic. A little more balsamic and it would’ve scored higher, all the dressing was gone by two fork-fulls in and by the end it was bland and dry.
After our meal we left the bistro and walked around to the sports bar for a post parma pot and game of Barry, where we were dubbed ‘The Untouchables’ for some reason by the locals … interesting.
$19.50 is up there on the parma-price scale, especially without a pot. Apparently the Union does a ‘Parma & Burger night’ on Tuesday nights, with ‘True blue trivia’ and a parma for $12, it definitely would’ve scored higher if that special was on a Wednesday night but unfortunately we missed it by a day, however thats definitely something to keep in mind.
Parma - 5.3
Chips - 5.7
Salad - 3.8
Value - 4.2
Total - 4.84
The search continues…
Be sure to tune in next week for a very special attempt! Cheers, and i’ll see you then!