Where? The Palmerston Hotel, 51 Palmerson Cres. South Melbourne
Price? - $20 for the standard parma, $22 for the "Palmie" parma (bolognaise instead of napoli), $24 for the "Special" parma of the week
Reviewers – Fridge, Lee, Matt, Nikki, Stefo, Tony [/info]
Cast your mind back to March 2010. James Cameron's Avatar was taking the world by storm, Rihanna's "Rude Boy" was topping the charts and we had just finished up our first group parma sesh at Mrs. Parma's since the loss of The Prince of Wales. After the parma we were talking about the idea of a website. "We could do this every week" I said, "we'll get score cards made up and I'll put it on a website!". It seemed like a good idea and thus ParmaDaze was born - But where to next? With Mrs. Parmas out of the way the next logical choice was to visit the pub famous Melbourne-wide for their chicken parmas, the pub whose parma used to top the leader-boards of Superparma.com before they disappeared from the internet.
We arranged a meet up that following Wednesday (we did parmas on Wednesdays back then) but then realised that that particular Wednesday was St. Patricks Day ... Nobody would come to a parma night on St. Paddy's day, So we pushed it to Thursday night instead. I arrived with reviewer Nikki and waited for everyone else to turn up.
And waited, and waited... and waited some more.
It was only our second attempt and we had learnt a harsh lesson - Don't arrange a parma night the day after one of the biggest drinking days of the year. Everyone will be too hung over to function. I made some calls and managed to get reviewer Shanan on board, he arrived late but still managed to get his scores in. You can read all about what happened with the rest of that attempt here.
It's more than four years later and I've always felt like The Palmerston never got a fair shake. We were hung over, barely any of us there, this was the first parma we'd ever done with the idea of a website in our heads and to be honest, we were parma n00bs. (I even forgot to take a photo of the parma we received - the one currently on the review was lifted from Google image search). It's not that it scored badly with the last review, in fact it's final score of 7.30 is quite respectable - I've just always been curious to check out how it has held up with the test of time.
So, with clear heads and more than 195 parmas worth of experience under our belts since the last visit, we loaded up the parma bus and headed out to The Palmerston Hotel in South Melbourne for the second time.
I say for the second time, however all but two of the people at this attempt were at the original, so we were definitely getting fresh eyes on the situation. The pub has barely changed at all in four years (other than the addition of a very impressive beer garden out the back) - A fantastic country pub vibe in the middle of Melbourne, the staff are among some of the friendliest we've encountered and give off a great "family pub" vibe - not to mention it's almost walking distance to Crown Casino should the need to gamble strike you (I actually put handy wallet-sized instructions on how to get to the Palmerston from Crown in our review of the now defunct, horrible parma of the Pub at Crown, probably still useful should you find yourself at Cotta).
The range of beers at the Palmerston is pretty basic - honestly not much more than what you would expect from a country pub. Ten beers on tap and a small selection of stubbies, but nothing particularly fancy, I started off with a $5 Crown Lager stubby, as they were cheap until 7pm, then after 7 I grabbed a pint of Little Creatures for $10.60 and headed to the table.
We took our seats in the dining area around the back and checked the menu -
The "Special" parma this week was topped with Hungarian salami and bocconcini, according to the menu this rotates weekly - I don't mind the occasional novelty like this, its when the novelties completely eclipse the menu that I get slightly miffed.
Inflation has driven the price of both chicken parma varieties up a few bucks since the 2010 review, from $17 to $20 for the standard parma is an understandable rise in four years (if the quality of the parma remains the same, that is). The Palmerston Hotel is still touting that they were voted number #1 by Superparma ... There has got to be a statute of limitations on how long they can boast about that, superparma.com hasn't even been active since 2008 - move on guys!
Now, here at ParmaDaze we have been known to partake in a little pre-parma snack (or "pre-game" as we call it) from time to time should the menu have some tasty looking items on offer. It's generally a mixed bag, some pubs offer a few good looking options, other pubs are pretty sparse when it comes to entrées. The Palmerston? They've got you covered...
I don't think there is a single item on that entrée menu that I wouldn't enjoy (I'm not big on Oysters, but others in the review team are all about Kilpatrick). Chips & mushroom sauce? Yes please! Homemade sausage rolls? Gimme! South Melbourne dimmies? sign me up! Looks like I've got egg on my face for saying last week that you can't normally get dim sims with a parma!
All reasonably priced as well, especially considering that a few weeks ago we found a place charging $15 for cheesy garlic bread, $6 at the Palmie is a damn steal.
We ordered some cheesy garlic bread and oysters kilpatrick for pre-game, our parmas (4 standard and 2 specials) and awaited the arrival of our dinner.
Good lord, this review is almost as long as the entire first attempt and we haven't even gotten to the parmas yet... Moving on!
First up were the entrees, The cheesy garlic bread -
Was extremely tasty and a great way to kick off the meal. Was a little off-put when I realised they used a whole-grain bread, but it wasn't a deterrent at all. Cheesy, garlic-y, bread-y ... Really everything you could want from cheesy garlic bread.
Also up were the oysters Kilpatrick -
I feel like I could get on board with oysters kilpatrick if it weren't for the oyster. If someone offered me a cup of diced, fried bacon soaking in Worcestershire sauce I would be all over it - but the little booger-looking blob underneath is just in no way appealing to me.
Anyway, thats me. Reports from the oyster eaters around the table came back universally positive. We polished off the entrees in a matter of minutes and the parmas arrived shortly after.
First difference I noticed was that the parma no longer came with a bake-at-home roll on the side, as it did when we first reviewed it. Although I had just downed two slices of cheesy garlic bread this bummed me out a little - I am always stoked when I get a roll with my parma, and to see it fall by the wayside (even after the price of the parma has raised) was disappointing.
One thing you can guarantee with a Palmie parma is that you are not going to get a processed schnitzel. Pure, white, juicy chicken breast all the way. perfect thickness all the way through and remained piping hot until the last bite - If I had to gripe about the schnitzel I would say that the crumbs were a bit soggy, especially underneath - but that's a minor criticism that didn't detract from the flavour of the dish too much. Overall the schnitzel at the Palmerston provided a solid base for this parma.
I complained that the 2010 parma was a little light on the napoli - this is no longer the case at The Palmerston. Under the cheese hides a generous serving of rich napoli sauce, more than enough to adequately cover the parma. The flavour of the ham was prominent and the cheese was beautifully cooked to a perfect golden brown.
I'm not gonna sugar coat it - the chips were a let down. Quite a small serving tucked away under the parma. Standard, unseasoned pub chips that honestly looked a little old, as if they had been sitting for a while. Liberal use of the salt shaker brought them back to life, however I was by no means blown away.
My major complaint with the salad last time was that it was chopped too finely - sounds like a silly thing to complain about I know, but you don't realise just how annoying it is until you try it - and they still do it. Although the ingredients were fresh, crisp and tasty it was a struggle to even get it on the fork - We had to resort to the 'spoon' technique and try to scoop up the little giblets of salad to eat that way. That being said I appreciated the addition of green and red capsicum, along with the onion, cucumber, lettuce and tomato.
For $20? Not too shabby. The parma was made from quality ingredients and stood apart from the other elements on the plate. I wouldn't shy away for paying $20 for this again, and would probably go out of my way to give it another shot - if only for the pub itself.
As for the parma "specials" with salami, reports came back that it was a welcome addition - however not quite worth the $4 price hike to swap out the ham for a few slices of salami.
The Palmerston is one of my favourite pubs in the area. It's an honest family pub that is becoming increasingly rare these days - The menu is devoid of any wank - just down-to-earth solid pub grub. Not much has changed with the Palmerston parma - it is still the solid contender that it always was, but I think we were a little blind the first time around, as I said at the start of the review we were new - Our parma review experience didn't extend far beyond The Prince of Wales or Mrs. Parmas. 197 reviews has given us a little bit of perspective, as well as some fresh eyes on the parma - and it has caused a slight score fluctuation - I'd still recommend it, but the price hike, loss of a bread roll and lacklustre sides have caused a slight score drop. I'd still recommend, just not as vehemently as I did four years ago
- Solid, tasty chicken parma
- Down to earth pub with great atmosphere
- Rotating parma "special" to keep things interesting
- Soggy crumbs
- disappointing chips
- salad diced far too finely