Where - 225 Canning St. Carlton
Price - $22 for Chicken, $20 for Eggplant
Website - https://www.thedan.com.au
Reviewers – Adam T, Cale, Fridge, Lee, Nikki & Stefo
It was quite a while ago that we first visited the Dan O’Connell. The original review has a rare photo of the review team in action and I can’t believe how young we all look. It was 2010 when that photo was taken and our visit to the Dan was our 16th review. My memory of the parma is a bit fuzzy (as fuzzy as the photo of it that was posted in the review). I remember that we had a fantastic night, splitting the large review team into two and battling it out at the Dan’s Wednesday trivia night, however my recollection of the parma was that it wasn’t great. Thin, processed, an all around cheap, low quality job.
I always loved the Dan O’Connell, their yearly Saint Patrick’s Day parties in the neighbouring park were a highlight of my youth, so when I heard that the lads behind the fantastic Catfish and Northern Git had taken over my interest was certainly piqued, so we loaded up the parma bus and headed back to the Dan O’Connell Hotel.
The Interior of the Dan hasn’t changed a whole lot from what I remember, it’s still the poorly lit, slightly dank, cosy bar that I had grown to love. From the open fireplace to the stack of well worn board games by the door its a pub that I’d love to term a “backstreets local” if it wasn’t sitting on Alexandra Parade, arguably the busiest street in Melbourne’s North.
We grabbed a table and checked the menu…
We’ve yet to do an eggplant parma on ParmaDaze but I will make note of it in case we get a vegetarian reader. Also, mentioning eggplant in the text and not just the image means I’ll be able to do a search for it if someone asks me for a recommendation for an eggplant parma in the future. Eggplant.
(side note: Nobody got the eggplant, we all went with chicken)
Possibly the biggest change at the Dan O’Connell is what’s going on behind the bar. Gone are your standard CUB or Lion taps and in their place is a wondrous selection of craft beers. Keep an eye on their Now Tapped listing for more up to date details as I feel like anything I list will be out of date by the time I hit “publish”, but I was super impressed by the selection (The Citray Sour by La Sirène was a personal favourite.
About 25 minutes after ordering our parmas arrived from the kitchen. As is tradition with revisits, lets compare the 2010 parma to its 2018 counterpart…
Right out of the gate its a massive improvement on the 2010 parma. The schnitzel was insanely plump. Perfectly cooked, super juicy and a top quality chicken breast. in 2010 we questioned if we had received a store bought deli-window schnitzel, well those worries were out the window the second we cut into this beast.
It’s been a few weeks since we had a parma served as piping hot as this one, super fresh and flavoursome with a perfectly crunchy crumb. Yes, it was served directly on the chips, which required a bit of plate-fu to quickly re arrange things before the chips got too soggy under such a steaming hot parma, but we managed to get everything out of the way before too much damage was done.
As far as toppings go the napoli sauce was the star. Fresh and light, not nearly as tomato-pastey as we would expect on our parmas. The smoked ham added some complexity and, even though the cheese could have used an extra 30 seconds or so under the grill, had great coverage, nice and sharp with plenty of stretch.
Also, I’m not sure if it was in the napoli or throughout the crumbs, but the Dan’s parma had quite a unique savoury flavour. We discussed it around the table and the closest thing we could compare it to is the herbs they use in the stuffing of charcoal roasted chickens. It was subtle, but it was there. Quite unique and enjoyable.
I’m struggling to find a critique of this parma. It was pretty much spot on. An amazing improvement.
The chips that arrived with the parma were … fine. They were well cooked and plenty of them, but they were a little boring. Could have used some more seasoning, the offer for tomato sauce on the side when the parmas were delivered was greatly appreciated.
The salad was fresh and crisp. A garden salad with some shredded cabbage thrown in for good measure. It was very strong on lemon juice, giving it a strong citrus punch that worked well as a palate cleanser, however was a little too much by the time we got through it all.
At $22 I’m calling this one a bargain. The chicken quality was top notch and didn’t all feel like they were trying to make a buck off this meal (especially considering we had a $32 parma last week that wasn’t nearly as good as this one). If $22 is too rich for your blood the Dan offers up this same parma for just $16 (chicken or eggplant) on Monday nights. An amazing deal and one I whole heartedly recommend you check out.
The parma at the Dan is an astounding improvement on its 2010 counterpart. Do yourself a favour and drop in for a feed, or even just a beer - You won’t be disappointed either way.