2018 Parma of the Year awards

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a quality holiday break. 2019 is now upon us but before we can crack into a fresh 12 months of the search for the perfect parma lets first get a bit retrospective and take a look back at the year that was 2018.

2018 was a quality year! We had parmas in cast iron skillets at GG EZ, we discovered the unholy abomination that was the Cheeseburparma at Father’s Office, we launched the first of a couple of video reviews with The Barwon Heads Pub we had a parma on the other side of the flippin’ planet in Galway, Ireland and even got a mention in both the Herald Sun and the Wall Street goddamn Journal!

Looking back on 2018 I’m surprised at how many decent parmas we found. Compared to 2017 (which I have since dubbed “The year of the stinkers”) the bad to good parma ratio definitely leans towards the good end of the spectrum.

As usual we have our two main awards for the year - Parma of the Year and Best New Parma of 2018. But before we get to that lets look at some honorary mentions for parmas that have impressed us last year

Biggest Parma

It was early in 2018 that we discovered the parma at the Workers Club in Fitzroy, and for quite a while it was the hot favourite to take home the Best new parma of 2018 award (like I said, competition this year was fierce).

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Not only was the schnitzel massive, engulfing everything on the plate, the chicken was of the purest quality, the toppings were fantastic and the sides brought it all together. It’s not often a big parma like this ticks so many boxes in other areas, but the parma at the Workers club managed to pull it off. Any other year this parma would have taken home a trophy, so I had to give it an honourable mention here at the very least. Check it out.

Most Creative Parma

In the year that we discovered the aforementioned Cheeseburparma you’d think the competition for most creative parma would be done and dusted, however while the Cheeseburparma was creative, the jury is still well and truly out as to whether it was any good. Enter multiple Golden Chook award winners The Imperial Hotel to introduce the world to the Pizza Parma…

A parma, sliced like a pizza that you can eat with your hands? Sign me up!

Best Home Delivered Parma

We didn’t get to many home delivered parmas this year, mostly because I’m running out of restaurants in my area that actually do parma delivery. Luckily of the two home delivered parmas we tried in 2018, the one from Frank’s Ristorante was pretty damn good!

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Bad boy chips, super thick schnitzel, slathered in toppings. Pretty much the best parma in the Essendon area you can enjoy without putting on pants!

Most Improved Parma

This one is gonna be a tad controversial, I’ll explain why in a moment.

Hardimans Hotel. Once a poorly lit dive bar in Kensington which served us this parma -

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(with a side of mice, that we could see running through the kitchen while we ate our parma), Underwent a truly stunning transformation in 2018, after being completely gutted both the pub and the parma served were totally unrecognisable, serving us this beauty on opening day …

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However. Almost instantly after the review went live I started hearing reports that the parma Hardimans is now serving is no longer the parmesan and prosciutto encrusted glory that you see above. It has been scaled back to a more traditional parma. Not bad, but definitely not as unique and special as the parma we reviewed. Will be doing further investigation on this one in 2019 so stay tuned. Hopefully before we get back for a re-review the Hardimans parma can be restored to what we reviewed, as it was truly something special.

Best Brewery/Parma Combo

To be perfectly honest I’ve just made up this category so I can give The Cheeky Pint in Footscray a mention. As I said competition for the top spot was fierce this year, we had so many good parmas but it wouldn’t feel right not even giving them a nod.

as it definitely deserves to be checked out. The parma was thick, plump and juicy, the wedges were on point, the mustard aioli was a triumph and the beers on tap were delightful (I recommend the tasting paddle)

Best New Parma

Alright! Now for the trophies. For newcomers the Best New Parma is the first of two awards we give out every year. Simply put the Best New Parma award goes to the best parma we ate in 2018. The highest scoring new addition to the list in the last 12 months, and this years winner shone high above all the fantastic parmas I have just listed - Congratulations to Abbotsford’s The Park Hotel.

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We’d tried it before in 2012 and, even though it was good back then, the new and improved Park Hotel parma is next level. Thick, plump chicken breast and lashings of smoked ham bring this flavour sensation to life, accompanied by perfectly seasoned chips and a tantalisingly fresh coleslaw that sides the parma perfectly.

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If you have yet to visit the Park (or their sister pub, The Royston in Richmond) I highly recommend you do. You won’t be disappointed.

Parma of the Year

While the Best New Parma goes to the best parma we had of 2018, Parma of the Year goes to the best parma we've had since ParmaDaze.com started in 2010 - and as none of the parmas we had in 2018 have topped the 2016 and 2017 winner a third trophy was delivered to Melbourne’s parma kings… The Birmingham Hotel in Fitzroy.

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Still fantastic after all these years, and consistently packing in the punters on their Tuesday & Wednesday $13 parma nights, not only is it the best parma in town its also the best parma night in town.

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A well deserved hat trick to The Birmy.

And with that another year is over! Massive thanks to all the readers for the support throughout the year, your comments, suggestions and abusive emails are what keep me going.

Another big thanks to the review team, When you drunkenly agreed to do a weekly parma with me after a filling meal and too many pints at Mrs. Parmas I bet you didn't think we'd still be doing it 8 goddamn years later. Couldn't do it without you all. Many, many thanks.

I hope you enjoyed our retrospective on 2018! I hope I didn’t miss any. Naughtons and The Last Jar were pretty great too.

New reviews kicking off next week. Stay tuned for a heap more fun in 2019!

2017 Parma of the Year awards

Well December is upon us again, which means its time to look back on the year of parmas that was, point out some highlights and at the end we'll award some golden chook trophies to the best of the best. Sound good? Good.

2017 was definitely an interesting year. It was the year of our 300th review, the year of the Parma Pie, The year of the Larmagiana, and (at quite a low point in the history of the website) the year I ate parma flavoured dog biscuits.

Looking back on the parmas we had this year there were quite a few stinkers, but between the stinkers there were some diamonds in the rough that are worth shining the spotlight on one more time before the year is out, so before we get to the main event I'm gonna hand out some honorary mentions for parmas that have impressed us in 2017...

Biggest Parma

It was our first review of 2017 way back in January when we wandered into Lygon Street's Bobo's Diner, and little did we know we were gonna kick off the year by nearly giving ourselves spontaneous stomach ruptures by trying to down this beast...

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Being the first of the year, we didn't even have a chance to warm up beforehand. "Just a casual parma at an American themed diner" we thought, "nice easy way to start the year" - But Americans do things big. While it didn't blow us out of the water with its flavour, if you want a challenge then Bobo's is definitely one to check out.

Best Value Parma

If you don't care too much about quality and just want a feed to soak up some beers, then it's almost impossible to look past the parma at Forester's.

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Five bucks. With chips and salad. Every day. Do I need to say any more?

It's not going to win awards but it wasn't offensive in any way, shape or form - And to be honest we had worse parmas this year that we paid over 5 times the price for.

Most Creative Parma

There was quite a bit of competition for most creative parma this year! We had the fantastic Chicken Cotoletta from the Baden Powell Hotel and some hilariously good options at the Australia Day Parmageddon the Skinny Dog Hotel - But the winner of Most Creative parma has to go to our very recent visit to The Duke and their Parma/Lasagne hybrid - The Chicken Larmagiana

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I'm still amazed at how well this worked. After the first few bites you could forget you were eating a novelty parma and just enjoy it for what it was - A huge, pristine schnitzel with a tasty bolognese, delicious ham and perfectly melted cheese - the pasta sheets and white sauce were just a bonus. Congrats to the Duke and congrats to competition winner Gabby for coming up with the winning recipe and scoring a year's supply of free parmas!

Best Home Delivered Parma

Partly because there are so many take away parmas in Melbourne that were going sorely ignored, and partly because I'm getting lazy in my old age and have begun counting any time I can avoid putting on pants as a win -But 2017 saw the introduction of a new category of review at ParmaDaze - "Crossing the Road", a category dedicated to home delivered parmas. While a few of them were pretty mediocre - One stood out by far as the best we've had in 2017. Toto's Pizza House.

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I could sit down at a pub and receive this exact parma and wouldn't bat an eyelid. Restaurant quality delivered to my door - Very impressed.

Most Improved Parma

From this -

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To this -

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Saint Kilda's The Fifth Province absolutely smashed it in the self improvement category this year. Every criticism we had of their parma in our 2015 review was addressed, and they improved in areas we didn't even think about. A great improvement, a great pub and a great parma. 

Best New Parma

Alright! Now we're getting to the pointy end. For newcomers the Best New Parma is the first of two awards we give out every year. Simply put the Best New Parma award goes to the best parma we ate in 2017. The highest scoring new addition to the list in the last 12 months - and while this year's winner is a bit of a surprise, I proudly award Best New Parma 2017 to The Wandi Pub in Wandiligong, Victoria.

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Part of October/November's whirlwind Alpine Week series of reviews, the Wandi Pub absolutely blew us out of the water. The Schnitzel, the toppings, the chips, even the pub itself... All absolutely phenomenal (I was going to have an honorary mention for Best Beer Garden, but the Wandi would have taken that as well, and after also winning Time Out Magazine's Best Regional Pub award this year I think they've had enough!)

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It's about a 3 hour drive up to Wandiligong from Melbourne. A 6 hour round trip if you don't want to stay the night (although there is on site accommodation if you do). Even so I'd say its definitely worth the trip.

Parma of the Year

While the Best New Parma goes to the best parma we had of 2017, Parma of the Year goes to the best parma we've had since ParmaDaze.com started in 2010 - and as none of the parmas we had in 2017 knocked last year's king off their perch, the 2017 Parma of the Year award once again goes to the phenomenal parma at Fitzroy's Birmingham Hotel...

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Look at that beast. Doesn't it make you hungry just looking at it?

Even the experience of the Birmy has improved a little since last year - The tap list has gotten a fair bit craftier with a bunch of new breweries getting space (Cavalier, Goose, 4 Pines, Sample to name a few). I'd even say the chips have gotten slightly better as well. They seemed a little less oily this time around. 

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Congratulations again to the Birmingham. An award well earned.

And with that another year is over! Massive thanks to all the readers for the support throughout the year, your comments, suggestions and abusive emails are what keep me going -

Also big thanks to the review team, When you drunkenly agreed to do a weekly parma with me after a filling meal at Mrs. Parmas I bet you didn't think we'd still be doing it 7 goddamn years later. Couldn't do it without you guys. Many thanks.

Have an awesome holiday season, I'll most likely be posting of my exploits on Instagram more than anywhere else so that's probably worth following if you aren't already.

Should be back in action mid-January 2018 ... Catch you then! (No dog biscuits next year... I promise).

2016 Parma of the Year awards

Well its December. The month where families gather to spend time with their loved ones, exchange heartfelt gifts, and read about which chicken parmigiana we thought was the best. It has been an interesting year for ParmaDaze, We enjoyed a parma in an American style diner, a parma designed by a MasterChef Champion, a Curry parma in a Japanese restaurant, a few parmas and some other heart-attack inducing grub on a road trip through the Southern United States, sampled every parma we could get our hands on during a week in Byron Bay and went yet another year without recording a new episode of our podcast.

Coleslaw seemed to be the big addition to parmas in 2016, it seemed like every second parma we had was sided with a serve of 'slaw as opposed to the traditional salad. I'm not complaining, a good slaw can really drive a parma home, but it is interesting to note that the trend seems to be swinging that way.

Now, for the Parma of the Year awards we normally give out two trophies, one for best parma overall (the top of the leaderboard) and another for best new parma that we found that year. As we have a new leader in 2016 our Parma of the Year and Best New Parma categories are one and the same, which means we only handed out a single trophy this year ... Only one award? That's no fun! So I've decided to hand out some honorary mentions for parmas of 2016 that have impressed us in other ways...

Outstanding chips

Ahh the chips. Nobody really cares about the salad, but everyone cares about the chips. But which ones stood out? We had some great examples of potato goodness in 2016 - But the absolute standout in my mind would be the roasted duck fat potatoes from the Empress Hotel

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Seeing chip after chip every week its rare that we come across a form of fried potato beside a parma that makes me stop and think "damn, thats unique", and while not technically chips they definitely got our attention. Crisp and crunchy on the outside opening up to fluffy clouds of potato inside. Fantastic flavour that barely needed seasoning – I could have easily downed a full plate of these solo. A very welcome change from the norm and something I'd like to see a lot more of in the future.

Most unexpectedly impressive parma

How we choose a location for our parma reviews every week depends on a lot of factors. Sometimes its a parma we've just heard about that does something unique or interesting, sometimes its a parma we've been recommended by readers, sometimes its a decent looking parma I spied on Instagram, and sometimes your wife is on late shift so you can't be bothered going far from home - You can normally spot these ones, they're the ones at pokies pubs or cafes, usually around Essendon or Moonee Ponds simply because we don't have time to travel far on a Thursday night - Hopes are never very high for these ones, which is why, when we found the parma at Crème, I was stunned.

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I had written off the Crème parma as crap before we walked in the door, imagine my surprise when this sizeable and flavoursome bird fell in front of me. This isn't right! Crème is a cafe, not a pub! None the less they turned out an extremely enjoyable parma that I am thrilled to know is nearby when I need it.

Most improved parma

We had quite a few redo's this year, more than any year previous, and in that bunch of revisited pubs I was surprised at how many of them actually managed to pull up their socks and improve their product. Picking a winner for most improved parma is tough as there were so many good ones. In fact, I'm gonna need to call this one a tie, between The Rose Hotel in Fitzroy and Richmond's Royston Hotel.

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The Rose Hotel underwent an amazing transformation. Both the parma and the pub itself are virtually unrecognisable. When we originally had it in 2010 it was absolutely horrible with zero redeeming qualities (other than the breadstick, which was a nice addition). In 2016 it was a damn fine bird. Quality chicken breast, tasty toppings, an all round hearty meal.

The Royston wasn't that bad to begin with, but they turned it into something phenomenal. If you throw out the scores for Chips, Salad and Value the Royston's parma is our second highest rated of all time, behind this year's Parma of the Year Winner. Both well deserving of the title of most improved parma.

Best Pub Dog

Who doesn't love a good pub dog? Who wouldn't want to be a pub dog? It isn't even a competition, this year's award goes to Billy at the Palace Hotel

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Billy walks around the Palace likes he owns the place, and rightfully so, his face is literally on the walls in the beer garden and on the logo for the pub itself.

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Oh, and the parma isn't half bad either.

I could go on, But there's a reason you're reading this post. It's time for the parma of the year...

Parma of the Year

Who would have thought when we walked into our first review of 2016 that we would be walking in to a new #1 parma for ParmaDaze. It's no secret so lets no bury the lead, Parma of the Year for 2016 goes to the outstanding Birmingham Hotel.

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Its always controversial when a new leader is crowned, but I stand by it ... The above photo was taken last weekend when we presented the Birmy with their award and the parma is as tasty as it was in January. If you haven't yet you can read our original write-up here. Absolutely outstanding.

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The lads at the Birmy were super stoked to receive their award. Always nice to see, quickly taking prime position over the front bar...

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Congratulations to the Birmingham. An award well earned.

And with that another year is over! Massive thanks to all the readers for the support throughout the year, your comments, suggestions and abusive emails are what keep me going - Especially those who have already signed up to our 2017 Parma Knight's membership program, you guys are the real MVP's (memberships still available here ... Would make an awesome Christmas gift for the parma lover in your family ... Just sayin').

Also big thanks to the review team, When you drunkenly agreed to do a weekly parma with me after a filling meal at Mrs. Parmas I bet you didn't think we'd still be doing it 6 years later. Couldn't do it without you guys. Many thanks (although you need to get off your collective asses and come record another podcast with me).

Have an awesome holiday season, I'll most likely be posting of my exploits on Instagram more than anywhere else so that's probably worth following if you aren't already.

Should be back in action mid-January 2017 ... Catch you then!