Where? - 980 Mount Alexander Rd. Essendon
Price? - $10 parma Thursdays ($12 with Salad)
Website? - http://www.fredricksrestaurant.com.au/
Reviewers – Cale, Fridge, Grace, Hayden, Lee, Nikki, Stefo, Tony [/info]
When picking the location for parma reviews each week I try to be pretty balanced. I do my best to pick well known, interesting spots that aren't too close together on consecutive weeks - Just so everyone feels like they're getting a turn.
This week I was selfish. It was a parma review at a spot I'm guessing 95% of you are currently saying "Where the hell is that?" but since they started advertising it I knew I had to know what the parma at Fredricks was like, due to my own morbid curiosity ... I just had to know.
In the middle of Essendon, just after you pass the train station on Mount Alexander Road is Fredricks. For as long as I can remember Fredricks has been the function room attached to the Best Western Alexander Motor Inn, and has garnered a bit of fame in the area for their monthly over 28's single's nights. I'd never been inside the doors myself however, on the way to a different parma a few weeks ago, I spotted this...
Despite their horrible choice of a grunge-style font for the words "Thursday Nights" my interest was piqued, it took a few weeks to convince everyone else that it was a good idea to hit up Freddies, but last night that is exactly what we did.
Walking into Fredricks I was expecting an empty room ... imagine my surprise when the place was a flurry of activity, For a moment I was unsure we would be able to secure a table, but after some quick re-arranging from the very friendly staff they managed to squeeze us in.
If your group of friends has gone through their run of 18th's, 21st's or engagement parties then you've most likely been in a room like Fredricks. Its your standard function room with bar up one end, dance floor up the other and a massive accordion-style door at the halfway point to divide the room should there be two parties on at once - The white tablecloth laden tables were pleasant enough, I just wish they had've opened up the blinds while we were there - Sure the weather was sucky but I'd like to be able to know if it's night or day while I'm enjoying my meal, having them closed felt like I was eating in a casino.
I glanced at the menu and noticed that there are some non-parma special parmas available at other times...
Twice the price as what we were paying, but a couple of novelty options thrown in for good measure.
But screw that! We're in for parma night - We ordered our meals and stumbled upon the first caveat: Salad is extra. The parma special is just parma and chips with salad or veggies copping a $2 surcharge. Fair enough, we like salad so we all fished around in our pockets for some spare change and chucked in a salad, bringing the grand total up to $12 for the meal. We ordered our meals, kept one eye on the cricket, and awaited their arrival.
The selection of beers was quite limited - no taps available our options were stubbies of Carlton, VB, Crownies, Guinness ... I think I saw a Boags... you get the idea. Stubby of Crown rang up at $6 even.
After about one beer's wait the parmas started arriving from the kitchen...
Chicken thickness varied from plate-to-plate, with mine (pictured) being at about mid-range. It wasn't the best quality schnitzel we've had (the shape of mine was the very definition of "heart shaped schnitzel"), the crumbs had some padding to them, but it didn't feel like they were trying to hide anything. It was competently cooked with no sign of burnt edges.
The toppings that we had were decent, but I would have loved a slice of ham. It's not uncommon for discount parmas to forego the ham - and if the parma is good enough on its own I don't miss it too much ... but I think a slice of ham would've really helped this one along.
The cheese was fine, nothing really to report. The napoli was probably the best part of the dish - liberally applied, fresh and flavourful, the napoli really helped boost this dish from "mediocre" to "not terrible"
Apologies for the shadow, down lights are a pain the the ass!
The chips were okay but I would have loved more of them - the small handful we got wasn't nearly enough and if we hadn't paid extra for the side salad I would've been annoyed and walking away hungry.
For the extra two bucks they sure squeezed a lot into that little salad bowl. Chock-full of ingredients (the olives were particularly tasty), but it was a tad divisive on the level of dressing used - I love a lot of dressing, and this salad was swimming in it ... so I enjoyed it, but others around the table who aren't as dressing-mad as I weren't as pleased ... personal preference I suppose.
If I was stuck at Fredricks on a Thursday night I'd have the parma again - it definitely exceeded the expectations my mind had set for it. Had I paid the full price of $21 I would have been less impressed (although I get the feeling that the full price parma is different to the discount one, as the menu lists the full price version with a slice of ham). As far as discount parmas go it was okay - If we're looking at the Essendon area we've paid twice as much for a parma at least twice as shitty, so I'd happily return to Fredricks than go back there any day.
If you're after a quick, cheap parma fix then Fredricks just might have what you're after - if you want anything more than that you'll probably be disappointed. It was better than I expected, but my expectations were damn low going in.
If you've read this far I thank you for indulging me in reading a review for a place you'll probably never visit, next week it'll be a place a little more well known, I swear!
- Tasty, plentiful napoli
- Not nearly enough chips
- Sub-par schnitzel quality