Where? - 349 Keilor Rd, Essendon
Price? - $26.95 "Italian Parma", $28.50 "Spanish Parma"
Reviewers – Lee, Nikki & Stefo
This is a post probably more better suited as a theme post for Father's Day, but that isn't for another 6 months and we ate this parma last night.
This is a parma review to appease one man (and by "appease" I mean "Get off my back"), my Dad, who for the last 3 months or so has been pushing that we review the parma at a place he has seen that "looks alright" - Essendon's Omni.
Here's a picture of the two of us, circa 1983...
Now, a Tapas and Sangria bar is definitely not a usual target for a parma review, but with dear old Dad's recommendation under our belts we loaded up the parma bus and headed to Omni.
We arrived at 7pm to a mostly empty restaurant. There was a table next to us going to town on an array of tapas that looked rather decent.
The interior of Omni is intimate and cosy, with a bar up the end of the room reminiscent of an old school wine bar. We took a seat by the front window and checked the menu -
Nice to have a choice of Italian or Spanish parma (aka. "With Chorizo" or "Without Chorizo"), but hoo boy they are some high price tags attached to those birds.
Not an instant fail though. Quality ingredients sometimes require paying a bit more - I don't mind shelling out some extra coin if I'm going to receive a top quality product. "Buy it nice or buy it twice", as the old saying goes.
We placed our order, a mix of Italian and Spanish to get the full spectrum of parmas at Omni, and waited for our parma to arrive.
The beer selection at Omni is limited to bottles, as you'd expect from a place like this. Not a huge selection either, The fanciest on the list being probably a Peroni or Crown Lager.
At the point where I had finished my first stubby of Crown I started to get worried. It was edging towards the half hour mark and no sign of action from the kitchen. "It's okay" I told myself, "good food takes time to prepare, those Nicola potatoes sound amazing and potatoes take time to cook".
When the table that walked in while we were ordering our parmas received their food my concern jumped up a notch. There were only three tables of customers in the restaurant (us included), surely it can't take this long to whip up some parmas!
As the clock hit the 45 minute mark, our plates arrived from the kitchen. We were salivating at this point. Unable to contain our glee at the fantastic spanish/italian influenced parma with freshly roasted nicola potatoes about to fall in front of our faces...
Uh oh. I know tapas restaurants are supposed to serve little food, but this was off the mains menu and over $26 ... I was expecting something with a little more "wow" factor. I picked up the cutlery and tucked in.
It was a store bought schnitzel. I honestly wouldn't be surprised if the 45 minute wait was due to the staff ducking out the back and up the road to the nearby Woolworths deli counter. Thin as a credit card, with crumbs thicker than the chicken and absolutely flavourless.
The toppings weren't much better. I paid a premium for 5 disks of chorizo the circumference of a 10 cent coin with the consistency and flavour of a piece of rubber. Those with the Italian parma didn't fare much better - Undercooked mozzarella and a tablespoon of tomato paste does not make for a tasty parma, A slice of ham may have helped, (and for the price it definitely should have had one), but not much.
The "nicola potatoes" tasted as if they had also been waiting 45 minutes for the parma to be ready. Dried out, lukewarm, starchy cubes with zero seasoning, which could have been helped had Omni bothered to put either salt or pepper shakers on any of the tables.
There was no salad, so we're invoking the You Don't Win Friends With Salad rule for this one.
Value-wise this parma was absolutely horrible. At a guess I'd say they spent max five bucks on the ingredients for this parma, and we're shelling out between $26.95 and $28.50 for the opportunity to endure it.
There was this sign in the window -
However unless that's an $18 glass of wine I'd hardly say its worth it.
Our experience at Omni was, at this stage, the worst we have ever had. From the wait, to the price, to the parma itself, it was a massive let down. The tapas we saw on the other table did look okay, but unless there are massive changes to the way things are done there I don't see myself ever going back.
Dad, you may have given my life, but there's no way in hell I'm trying a parma you recommend ever again.