Where? - 1 Keilor Rd, Essendon North
Price? - $23.90
Website? - http://www.thelinc.com.au/
Reviewers – Cale, Lee, Nikki, Stefo
Oh, The Linc. What a love-hate relationship I have with this pub. On one hand it has been a solid watering hole and post-parma review hangout for many years. On the other hand it has been our lowest rated parma since 2011, with a total score of just 1.65 on our first visit, and 2.74 when it had it's first redo, exactly 99 parma attempts ago.
To be honest I was done with the Linc - But a couple of weeks ago after grabbing some dinner nearby I dropped into for a beer and a quick $20 in the pokies. I walked in to the front bar and my jaw dropped ... It was unrecognisable.
The front bar has had a complete overhaul. It's bright, it's roomy, its extremely inviting! I was sitting, partially in shock, sipping on my pint when I saw some parmas go past. I didn't get a great look (some people find it off-putting when strangers stare at their food), but I could tell something was different - Namely that they were no longer layering the napoli sauce on top of the cheese, as they did for our last two reviews.
If they have changed that ... Maybe they changed something else? Could the new look Linc be home to a new look parma?
I scheduled the re-review. There were complaints from the review team but I convinced them it'd be worth another look. Last night we loaded up the parma bus and headed back to the Linc.
I was a little disappointed to see that the Bistro at the Linc still had the same look as it used to, I'm hoping there is a plan to extend the new vibe to the rest of the pub that just hasn't been executed yet. We checked the menu, spied our target...
And visited the cashier to take our order. The parma at the Linc comes with a choice of chips, veggies or both - and a side salad is an extra $3.50. Nobody opted for the side salad this time around and just went with what came included.
First up were the always included hot bake-at-home rolls. Always a favourite. We followed that up with a couple of serves of cheesy garlic bread. I maintain that The Linc serves up some of the best garlic bread in Melbourne - and last night did not disappoint.
Despite the renovations the beer list is the same as it ever was. Lazy Yak being the craftiest beer on tap. The Linc seems to be putting all its weight behind its spirit and cocktail range, the new bar sporting industrial size dispensing machines for both Jägermeister and Fireball.
Shortly after polishing off our GB the parmas arrived. Lets take a look at the past vs the present before digging in.
The chicken schnitzel is was pretty much the same as the Linc parma's 2014 counterpart. Reasonably big, real chicken, hammered a little bit thin for our liking but not criminally so. I could see some herbs through the crumbs but they didn't add much to the flavour profile of the parma. The crumbs were a little thicker than we would normally like and flaked away from the chicken when lifted from the plate - but nothing too offensive about them overall. Everything on the plate was served absolutely piping hot. The parma, the chips, the veggies - Everything was toasty warm. Definitely a plus.
As suspected, the cheese/ham/napoli layering has been changed to something a little more standard, and as a result the pools of oil that plagued this parma on our last two reviews were no longer an issue. The cheese was fine, well grilled (a little flavourless) the ham was there but also didn't add a whole lot and the napoli was virtually nonexistent this time around. This was close to a ham and cheese schnitzel than it was a parma. It may have been the two pints mixing with the cold & flu medication I was on at the time, but I honestly didn't hate this parma. It wasn't great ... But it wasn't terrible either.
The chips were back to a standard pub chip. As I mentioned before they were served piping hot, crunchy and fresh. Gone was the overly starchy taste that they were afflicted with last time - They were just desperate for a bit of seasoning. A dipping sauce wouldn't have gone astray either.
Its possibly the weirdest thing about the dish, but the Linc's parma comes with veggies over salad by default. I'm not against veggies by any means, but it just strikes me as such a weird choice that they seem determined to stick to. The veggies were fresh and hot. Zucchini and a massive slab of pumpkin went down quite well. The weird pile of mystery garnish was also back. The less said about that the better.
The parma at the Linc is still quite pricey at $23.90. The included bake at home rolls do help heal the pain, but I wouldn't be racing back to shell out another $24 for the parma that we had.
The parma at the Linc is better than it was, and they definitely don't deserve the title of "lowest rated parma of all time" any more. It's still not great - but it's getting there. Throw in a fresh chunky napoli (under the cheese, of course) and a side of gravy for the chips and you're looking at a decent feed!
I don't think we'll be broaching Re-Re-Redo territory for quite some time so you will have to investigate yourself to see how it goes, but if you're a local it's definitely worth popping over to the Linc to check out the new vibe in the front bar. Grab yourself a serve of garlic bread or fried chicken sliders from the bar menu (they looked pretty good!) and see what you think. As I mentioned earlier I really hope they take the leap and extend this style of renovation to the rest of the pub - It's a winner.