Where? 29 Sydney rd. Brunswick
Price? - $4.50 with drink purchase (Wednesday night special)
Website? - http://bridiesbrunswick.com.au/
Reviewers – Dale, Lee, Nikki[/info]
The day that Bridie's announced their $4.50 parma special was the day my inbox exploded. Not just my inbox, but I was inundated with messages on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram ... basically every form of social media we have (Bridies even sent me a flyer in the post about it after I wound up on their mailing list after their NYE party I found myself at this year).
It just seems too good to be true! What's the catch? We had to venture down and find out. Expectations were low. Very low. Surely for $4.50 it could not possibly be good ... right?
We arrived just before 7 to an already pretty packed pub. First up, completely ignore what it says about "No bookings necessary" on the above flyer, this place was already busy and got busier the longer we stayed - I'd say if you're going with a table of 4 or more it'd be wise to book, there were plenty of large "reserved" tables when we were there.
So the process is this - First up you need to order a drink to be eligible for the special. Any drink will do, I ordered a pint of draught for myself and a coke for Reviewer Nikki. We got our drinks and two "tickets" to take to the food service window and exchange for our order.
Now, things get a tad confusing here. On the Bridies latest Facebook post they mention that you now also need to sign up for the "Parma Club" to be eligible for the deal. It doesn't cost anything, just an online form. I did this before we left, only to not be questioned about signing up when I arrived, however when I ventured to the bar later I saw a girl with a clipboard signing people up on the spot. Looks like its a new system thats coming in - better to be safe than sorry, if you're venturing out I'd say signing up is a good idea.
We ordered our meals and returned to the table. I'd say we were sitting for no more than sixty seconds before the boomerang buzzer went off and we were called back to collect our meals - they pump these things out damn fast. I honestly thing this was the fastest order-to-arrival time we've ever seen.
There she is. No salad, but more on that later. The schnitzel was, as you'd expect, processed to high hell, basically an oversized frozen chicken nugget - and the crumbs were actually thicker than the chicken in most places.
You know what? If they just had owned it, served a small bit of chicken with conservative crumbs and said "hey, its $4.50, what do you expect?" I probably would have been more forgiving, but with the shocking excess of crumbs it really feels like they're trying to cover it up. Although I suppose they have no control over the crumbing as these were clearly not house made parmas.
There was clearly enough room on the plate to not stack the parma on top of the chips, we quickly rescued them so you could get a clearer view of what $4.50 buys -
The toppings actually weren't as terrible as the schnitzel. The lack of napoli was almost criminal but I was surprised to see that the parma actually included a slice of ham - that's normally the first thing to do when a parma decided to appeal to the budget crowd.
There was plenty of cheese for such a small parma and it remained un-rubbery the entire meal. Sure it all came out of a package, but I was pleasantly surprised - The toppings weren't great, but they were nowhere near as offensive as what I was expecting.
The pub chips were pretty standard, small serving of pub chips that were just begging for a little salt, there was a pretty comprehensive condiment bar by the food service area (tomato, BBQ, chilli, tobasco and HP sauces all available) yet I couldn't for the life of my find any salt & pepper shakers, which is what these fries desperately needed. But, for a tiny serving of unseasoned chips they were cooked rather competently.
Now, the salad - When I approached the food service window to place our order I was met with this sign...
So its an extra $2 to add a salad, which doesn't seem too bad, until you consider that $2 is 45 percent of the total purchase price of the parma - that seems a little excessive to me, especially when I could see the pre-made salad pots sitting to the left of the service window, unrefrigerated and looking quite small and sad - We saved our cash, all forwent getting a salad with our parmas and are invoking the "You don't win friends with salad" rule for this review.
The value is the big question isn't it! And its hard to argue that this parma is very easy on the wallet. My total bill for dinner at Bridies for two parmas, a pint of draught, a pot of draught and a pot of coke came out to just under $26 all up. That is less than what a single parma cost us last week.
The Salad Rule being invoked means that the value of the parma takes a hit - and can you put a price on giving away your personal information for incessant promotional info after the necessary sign up to the "parma club?". I'd probably only recommend this parma if you were on your last few bucks and really needed a parma fix, I'm looking at you, starving Uni students. Oh look, I just got a text message from Bridies. No, really...
Expecting a quality parma for $4.50 is like jumping into a lion's cage and being surprised when you're mauled by a lion. You're stupid to think the inevitable isn't going to happen - The $4.50 parma at Bridies however is like jumping into a lion's cage and finding that the lion administers a local anaesthetic before tearing you limb from limb. Sure, it sucks - but it's slightly not as bad as you were expecting.
- It's only $4.50
- Annoying sign-up process to "qualify" for the price
- Think of the most processed schnitzel you can imagine. Now double it.
Parma - 1.67
Chips - 1.67
Salad - "You don't win friends with salad" rule invoked.
Value - 7
Total - 3.40
The search continues...