Where? - 117 Moray St. South Melbourne
Price? - Traditional starts at $21
Website? - http://maorichief.com.au
Reviewers – Fridge, Lee, Matt, Nikki & Stefo
Of all the parmas on our "To Try" list, I think the Maori Chief has been there the longest, so long I have forgotten how it got there in the first place - part of me thinks it made it there after a Facebook poll asking for suggestions for pubs with good beer gardens, but who knows. Most importantly last night we loaded up the Parma bus and headed to South Melbourne's Maori Chief Hotel.
I'm tempted call the Maori Chief a "backstreets local pub", however being only one block from Clarendon street I don't think it quite qualifies as such - Yet it definitely has the vibe of a friendly, local watering hole. The Chief has the feel of a pub that could become your home away from home. Friendly staff, cosy fireplaces and (from what I hear) a damn fine beer garden to drink away the afternoon.
We arrived at the pub on Thursday evening, grabbed a pint, cosied up in front of the open fireplace in the dining room and checked the menu... What's this? We have some novelty options -
Normally I'm a Parma purist, but god damn I can't say no to a Mexi-Parma. Reviewers Nikki and Matt went the Traditional route as our control group. Reviewer Stefo got the Aussie, I got the Mexican, and Reviewer Fridge was oh-so brave and got himself the Chilli Parma. We placed our orders at the bar (with sides of gravy for chip dip) and awaited the arrival of our meals.
For a locals pub such as it is I was pleasantly surprised to find a tap list as crafty as it was. Nothing too fancy, but a selection of eight taps running the gamut from Carlton Draught to Mountain Goat. Something for everyone.
After a quick pre-game of cheesy garlic bread, the different parmas starting appearing from the kitchen. Let's take a look, shall we?
The Original -
The Chilli -
The Aussie -
The Mexican -
First up lets talk schnitzel. This was a quality bit of bird. Pure white chicken breast hammered to a medium thickness. The crumbing was light (chicken even showing through in some spots) but I'd rather an under-crumbed schnitty than an over-crumbed one.
Well cooked, juicy and served piping hot. No matter what novelty toppings got piled on top, this was a quality foundation for a Parma.
Now on to the toppings discussion - Remembering that my experience was for the Mexican Parma, I'll get to everyone else's experience afterwards.
Hoo boy - was this ever a Mexican Parma. Atop the chicken was a healthy layer of hot salami, on that was plenty of spicy Chilli con carne, on that was the cheese, on that was the guacamole and on that was was a handful of corn chips.
First up - Although they look impressive, I don't think the corn chips are necessary on a mexi Parma. They only serve to slow me down from getting to my chicken and/or waste the guacamole that is reserved for my Parma.
Other than that, the toppings were damn tasty. The guacamole was fresh, the salami hot and the chilli con carne extremely flavoursome. To be honest, while I thoroughly enjoyed this dish, all I could really taste while eating it was salami and chilli. Overpowering, but in a good way.
As for the others, Stefo seemed very pleased with the Aussie, noting that the egg was perfectly runny and the bacon was a fine addition.
Nikki and Matt both enjoyed their traditional parmas, commenting that the Napoli sauce had a unique but unidentifiable flavour.
Fridge seemed underwhelmed - Apparently the "If you dare" promise of an insanely hot Parma was a cheque that the Chiefs chilli Parma didn't cash. He said it was fine, very tasty - but not the explosion of heat that the menu promised.
Looking at the above photos I wouldn't blame you for thinking these parmas didn't come with chips. Other than them being served directly underneath (which Isn't a hell-worthy trespass in my book, a pro can extract them before any damage is done), it was only a small serving - A handful at best.
Other than that they were great. Hot, crispy with pillowy potato inside. The side of gravy for chip dipping was a wise choice, the gravy thick and rich with a heavy red wine flavour.
The salad was perfectly fine. Fresh cucumber, lettuce, cherry tomatoes, carrot, onion and mustard seeds. Very flavourful and a fine addition to the meal.
I'd have no problems coming back to the Maori Chief and paying $23 for another Mexi-Parma, Hell I'd even travel out of my way for the privilege. As icing on the cake the Chief runs a $15 Parma night, which (as far as I can tell) covers their novelty varieties as well. I'm telling you it's good, but if you're unsure this is definitely the night to come and dip your toe in the water.
I enjoyed the Maori Chief. It's a laid back pub in an area that you wouldn't expect to find a laid back pub. Good vibes, good people, good grub - Definitely worth a visit.
- Some great novelty options
- Traditional stands on its own
- Small serving of chips
- "Super hot" Chilli Parma doesn't deliver