Where? - 502 Flinders St, Melbourne
Price? - $13.50
Website? - None that I could find, except for their Facebook page
Reviewers – Fridge, Lee, Matt, Nikki, Stefo
**EDIT** 14/06/16 - Just got some feedback from Insignia and they have said that they have backed off the amount of cinnamon used in the napoli, and they assure us that the schnitzels used are 100% chicken breast, flattened out and crumbed.
It's tight-arse week here at ParmaDaze, not a regular feature - but after a few weeks of parmas over the $25 mark it was time to dial it back a bit and find a bird that doesn't hurt the wallet as much. I delved into my archive of suggested pubs and found an email sent to me by a reader named Jacob, who recommended we try the CBD pub near the Aquarium. I looked them up and it seemed like the perfect target. We loaded up the parma bus, grabbed a handful of church change and headed to Insignia.
When it comes to CBD pubs Insignia has a unique vibe. From outside it looks like a tiny hole in the wall, but inside its airy and open, with plenty of space to either stand, lean or lounge. From the moment we walked in we felt comfortable and welcome. A warm pub with friendly staff and a fantastic vibe.
Insignia is all about the specials. $16 jugs, $8.00 shots, $8.50 cocktails and (of course) $13.50 main meals. All day, every day. We checked the menu, spied our target...
And placed our orders at the bar
A surprising amount of tap options ran the length of the bar, pretty much the entire James Squire range of beers is on tap, with a few other options thrown in for good measure. Boags, Superdry and Cider fall under the $16 jug category, with the fancier Squire options going for $20
About 25 minutes later our meals arrived at the table.
The schnitzel was served piping, almost impossibly hot and fresh. I'd swear I was eating it straight off the grill. Unfortunately a $13.50 parma comes with the level of schnitzel quality you'd expect for that price. It was big in circumference but quite thin and processed. At the very least the crumbs weren't too thick.
On the spectrum of store bought schnitzels this was one of the better grades, but still a store bought schnitzel.
The toppings, like the schnitzel, was served ridiculously fresh. The cheese was molten and gooey like a bright yellow lava flow. Ham is usually the first ingredient to go when you enter the budget parma spectrum and this parma was no different - a shame, as a slice of pork would have really helped this one.
The napoli was the most contentious part of the meal, namely one ingredient in the napoli that struck the palate like a Mack truck. There was some argument as to what the mystery spice was, but the general consensus around the table was cinnamon. A bold choice for a tomato napoli, and pretty much everyone eating the parma at the table agreed it was the wrong choice. Cinnamon is such a bold flavour and as such it detracted from everything else in the dish.
The chips were standard pub chips. Reviewer Stefo ordered a plate of Arancini balls with garlic aioli as an entree (which were fantastic, btw) so the left over aioli served as a chip dip to the otherwise rather plain chips. Not bad, not great.
Opinions on the salad wavered from person to person, I think due to different people getting different amounts of stuff in their salad. I drew the short straw, scoring two slivers of onion, a cucumber slice and some capsicum skin amongst my lettuce. The leaves were fresh, tossed in a tasty balsamic dressing - so not all bad.
I think reviewer Matt hit the nail on the head with his quote - This isn't a parma looking to play with the big boys. Its a cheap feed with cheap drinks in a pleasant atmosphere. It was beyond refreshing walking out of a parma night only $33.50 down, and that includes a jug of James Squire Golden Ale. No specific parma nights on the books as the cheap meals run all day every day.
One special I did see posted on the walls was for a pizza and tasting paddle of James Squire beers for $10... That sounds almost too good to be true.
I enjoyed my night at Insignia. Its a down to earth pub in an area where you wouldn't expect to find a down to earth pub. I won't be rushing back for a parma but will definitely keep it in my mind as a place for a cheap brew and feed without breaking the bank.
- Everything was cheap
- Fresh & piping hot ingredients
- Low quality schnitzel
- Needed ham
- Weird cinnamon flavour through the napoli was overpowering