When? - 23rd of June, 2010
Where? - The Hotel Albion, 146 Evans St. Port Melbourne
Price? - ‘Parmarama Wednesdays’ - $16 Regular parma (any variety) $28 to upgrade to the ‘Grandeoso’ (any variety)
Barry? - No
Website? - http://www.hotelalbion.com.au
Reviewers - Adam Y, Bec, Cale, Grace, Kathleen, Lee, Luke, Matt, Shanan, Tanya, Tony Q, Wade
There is a moment in every man’s life where he will step up, grab life by the balls and say “Yes! I will eat a kilogram of chicken, as well as chips & salad in order to get my photo and name listed on the pubs website” and for five of the Parma Daze review team, that moment was last night.
We had heard from a few sources about The Hotel Albion in Port Melbourne, voted as ‘Pub of the Year’ by 3AW in 2006 & famous for their ‘Grandeoso’ Parma - a parma so big that only a handful of people had ever finished it, and those who did manage to get through the challenge got their name and photo immortalised on the Albion’s Website. The challenge had been set, it was unavoidable, The Grandeoso had to be tackled by Parma Daze. In preparation for the challenge ahead I had lunch as early as I could to give my stomach a stretch, and yet have it digested enough to have enough room to cram an ungodly amount of chicken, chips and salad down into it (you have to clear your plate for it to count, no getting away with pushing the salad aside this time!)
We arrived at The Albion and took our seats - a little confused and worried at first as the main menu board made no mention of the parma at all, but on closer inspection we discovered the parma’s had their own menu around by the back bar … and what a menu it was!
Such a selection! I stared at this thing for a good few minutes weighing up my options before deciding, if the parma was going to be as massive as we had heard I would probably want as few additional toppings as possible. The Traditional it was. There was no mention of the Grandeoso on the menu, but the girl behind the bar told us that any one of the parmigianas on the menu can be turned into a Grandeoso for $28. Four other reviewers took the challenge alongside me, one even being brave enough to order the ‘Johnny Cash’ Grandeoso … Burning ring of fire indeed.
Before I get on to the parma I want to mention how fantastic the staff of the Albion are - hands down some of the friendliest staff I have ever come across, they all seemed to be having a great time and eager to join in on the fun of our Grandeoso challenge.
In absolutely no time at all our parma’s arrived, along with a camera which they used to take our ‘before’ photos alongside the massive serving of chicken.
On to the chicken …
The photo doesn’t do it justice, this thing was epic. You’re looking at two massive chicken parmigianas, stacked one on top of the other. Just one of these schnitzels we would still classify as ‘big’ - but one on top of the other is just ridonkulous.
The regular parma’s looked tasty, pretty much exactly as above just with one schnitzel less, same amount of chips and salad, I got a picture (below) for comparison
As the parmigianas were delivered we found out that those who finish the Grandeoso parma also get to ‘spin the wheel’ and win a prize - the stakes were raised. This parma had to be finished. With a time limit of one hour I picked up my cutlery and tucked in. My first bite I aimed for three layers - Two of chicken with some chips from the layer underneath on bottom, this seemed to work well for a few minutes of inhaling parma, but after the fifth mouthful I sensed myself quickly filling up. The wall was approaching and I was nowhere near done. Taking a sip of Gypsy Cider I decided to switch up my play, I donned a layer-by-layer approach, my plan was to eliminate the top parma, then the bottom, then graze on the chips and salad with my remaining time.
By the time I got through the first layer I was in trouble - I’d well and truly hit the wall at this point and was seriously doubting my parma eating ability and thus my value as a human being. The other Grandeoso eaters seemed to be rocketing through their chicken without slowing, meanwhile over on my end of the table it was Struggletown, Population: Me.
A few minutes later what sat before me was half of the last piece of schnitzel - one complaint about the grandeoso is while the 2nd layer still had ham and napoli, there was no cheese. Although not that it really mattered at this point, every part of me was screaming to stop, but little by little, bite by bite I managed to force the parma down. On to the sides … ugh.
I realised it had only taken me about 15 minutes of solid eating to get through the parma itself, the one hour time limit that I was a little scared of at the start seemed generous at this point. Slowly but surely I worked my way through the chips, and finally the bowl of side salad.
Five up, Five down - All of the Grandeoso Parma challengers cleaned their plate (even though the reviewer who had the Johnny Cash looked like he was about to keel over any second)
The waitresses came out to collect our plates, take our ‘after’ photos and deliver our ‘Grandeoso Legend’ winners tickets
We sat for awhile, some of us purely because we physically couldn’t move. I unbuckled my belt, sat back & took this time to reflect on what I’d just ingested…
The Schnitzel itself was quality chicken, not that thick but not too thin, the napoli was standard tomato, it came with ham (although cut a little thick for my liking) was not overpowering - good coverage of cheese on the top layer but fell short on the bottom layer, some cheese would’ve been appreciated to break up the onslaught of schnitzel.
The chips were pretty standard - a small amount with two massive schnitzels on top, they were a little soggy by the time I got to them - I say it was a small amount but part of me was VERY glad I didn’t have to tackle a mountain of chips alongside my mountainous parma.
The garden salad was served in a separate bowl alongside the parma, I was semi delirious by the time I got to it, but I remember a salad of rocket, tomato, onion and a very rich cream dressing, on reflection it was tasty, but at the time I hated it with a powerful rage burning hotter than a thousand suns. you know how it is.
The value of the Grandeoso is amazing $28 is almost what we paid for a single parma at The Skinny Dog, and it was at least twice the size! not to mention the finishers getting a spin of the prize wheel … The Grandeoso has value up the yin-yang
Even the single parma is pretty cheap, at $16 for any variety its definitely one to remember.
We had digested enough to the point that we could stand, so the winners moved over to the prize wheel to see what they could win …
A great selection of prizes … the $50 cash would be VERY nice … number 22. seemed like the least desirable option, the absolute last thing we wanted at this point was another parma
but one by one we stepped up and spun the wheel …
I took a spin and won a bottle of wine, The other prizes given out were a wooden spoon, a Glass of white wine, a pint of Taxi Pilsner and of course … another parma.
As we were leaving shortly after the staff switched the glass of wine and pint of Taxi to two stubbies of Heiniken we could carry out.
I’m aware this has been a very picture heavy entry, but the Grandeoso ‘legends’ had to pose out the front of the pub with our prizes -
And thus we waved goodbye to the Hotel Albion and the Grandeoso Parma Challenge
I both love you and hate you Grandeoso … I’m gonna need some time before we see each other again.
*edit* BUT ITS NOT OVER! a few months later we return to The Albion to take on the Man Vs. Parma Triple Parma Challenge! Check it out