Where? - 12-22 Hoffmans Rd, Essendon
Price? - $21.95 Non-Members, $19.95 Members
Website? - http://www.keiloreastrsl.com.au/
Reviewers – Lee, Nikki, Stefo
At the start of the year I made the declaration that we would no longer be doing parma restaurants purely out of convenience, that we would be going the extra mile to try and track down the best of the best - regardless of how much of a pain in the ass they are to get to on a Thursday evening.
Well, even though the Keilor East RSL is about a three minute drive from my house, This is an exception to the rule ... and I'll tell you why.
In December last year, right on the lead up to Christmas, I received an email from the Keilor East RSL That told the story of a new chef that had taken over the kitchen, had overhauled the parma after reading our less than positive review in 2012, but as our old review was still active they were still getting cancellations on reservations for Christmas parties due to people doing a bit of pre-dinner googling and finding our post.
This made me sad, I felt horrible that we were costing an RSL business after they had put in the hard yards to fix their parma. When I got their email we were winding up reviews for the year, so I vowed that we would slot it in as the first Redo of the new year.
They say that Old Man ParmaDaze's heart grew three sizes that day...
"But PD!" You might be saying to yourself "It's March! Surely if it was so important you wouldn't have waited until the third month of the year!" Well, dear reader, this was not our first attempt to visit the Keilor East RSL in 2016. You might recall at the start of our review of the Pascoe Vale Hotel in January (our second review of the year) we rocked up to the RSL and were flabbergasted to find the place absolutely packed to capacity... I guess our negative review wasn't hurting them too much as we were literally unable to get a table on a Thursday night, so we hit up the Pascoe and made plans to revisit the RSL again when we next had the chance, which we did last night ... with a booking this time.
When we arrived the place was again completely full, it even looked like they had squeezed a few more tables into the public bar area to make room. We took a seat, checked the menu ...
... and placed our order (with an added side of gravy for an extra $1.50). The two different prices you see listed there are the prices for members and non-members, every purchase (including the beers) at the East Keilor RSL has a discount for members. Speaking of beers, you wouldn't expect anything too crafty from an RSL, and the Keilor East is pretty much what you'd expect. Draught & VB - Nothing too fancy, but it was ice cold and did the job.
We mentioned last time that the fresh Bake-at-home rolls that we got after ordering were the highlight of the meal, much to our delight they haven't gone anywhere - and served as a tasty pre-game before the main event arrived.
If you can't be bothered reading through the last review, the cliff notes are basically this - Toppings were good, but a hugely processed chicken breast let down the entire meal. Chips were okay but needed seasoning and the salad was ... decent.
After a short wait the parmas arrived at the table. As is tradition with re-reviews first we will take a look at what the parma used to look like before checking the new one.
Before (2012) -
After (2016) -
From the moment it hit the table I knew it was an improvement, and cutting through the chicken my suspicions were confirmed. Gone was the processed oversized chicken nugget of a schnitzel and in its place a pure white, piping hot and juicy chicken breast. A little variance in thickness throughout but plump enough leave you satisfied at the end. Nothing fancy with the crumbs but they were applied conservatively. Very skilfully cooked with zero traces of burnt edges like its predecessor. A top notch foundation for this parma.
If you're a fan of chunky napoli then this one's for you - plenty of onion chunks and diced tomato throughout makes this the second chunkiest napoli I think we've had (The Plough still takes the #1 spot on that front), it tasted great with perhaps a slightly metallic aftertaste, so I'm rather confident they used tinned tomatoes in the recipe. The cheese was perfectly browned and tasty however the ham, while plentiful, was a little lost among the other elements of the parma.
After a quick extraction from underneath the parma the chips were pretty good, a definite improvement on their 2012 counterpart. That being said they still could have used some seasoning and were a little plain ... I'm glad the extra $1.50 for gravy. But they were well cooked and plenty of them, can't complain too much.
The salad was probably the only element that was not as enjoyable as the previous review. Gone was the beetroot and capsicum that made this salad shine and what was left was a pretty basic garden salad. The creamy dressing was tasty and it served its purpose, but the old salad packed a punch that was sorely lacking this time around.
For the non-members price of $21.95 I was pretty happy with the meal I received. It's a down to earth meal in a jovial family atmosphere that I'd happily try again. It's worth noting that the Keilor East RSL offers a $15.95 parma Tuesday with a bunch of variety toppings that I'd be very keen to investigate further - If you're at all curious about checking it out that would be the day I'd recommend you head down.
I'm glad we revisited the Keilor East RSL, it's such a friendly little spot and it never sat well with me that we gave it a bad review. Great to hear they turned it around to a parma I'd have no problems recommending ... If only for the bread rolls.
- Marked improvement on the previous attempt
- No more processed schnitzel
- Salad has lost its mojo