Where - 146 Flinders St. Melbourne
Website - https://dukeofwellington.com.au/
Reviewers – Lee & Nikki
First things first - While we didn't get paid for this review we were invited by The Duke to come down and try the Larmagiana. My opinion will remain as unbiased as we always try to be, but in the interest of full disclosure I thought I'd let you know from the get go.
A few months ago Melbourne CBD pub the Duke of Wellington launched a competition. They put out word that they wanted the people of our fair city to design their newest parma. The competition was open to all, and from the 144 entries received the options were narrowed down to six finalists, which were -
- Blue Babe - Pork, pancetta, gorgonzola, parmesan and fontina mix
- I Can't Believe It's Not Parma - Cauliflower Steak, gluten free cheese sauce, tomato sauce, chili flakes
- Panko Parma - Panko crumbed chicken, miso glaze
- Chicken Larmagiana - Regular parma with lasagne on top
- The Triple Threat - Chicken, 3 Cheese (Gruyere, buffalo mozzarella, taleggio) crispy sage and rosemary.
- The Heir - Chicken, truffle oil, prosciutto, sage, gouda cheese
The final six went to an online poll. I cast my vote for the Triple Threat, which sounded delightful - but the gods weren't on my side as by a 45% landslide victory the Larmagiana took the crown! (In the end I'm glad it did - I don't know if I could have put a positive spin on a piece of cauliflower covered in gluten free cheese pretending to be a parma.)
Last Friday the winner was announced, and we were invited by the Duke to come and give it a crack.
It wasn't our first visit to the Duke, long time readers will remember that the Duke took our our Best New Parma award of 2013. And even though the parma has evolved a little since our last visit, it's still a very fine specimen of Melbourne parmage.
We took our seat at an already packed Duke and prepared ourselved for the Larmagiana, before too long the beast fell before us...
Pro tip - Be sure you're hungry when you tackle the Larmagiana - This thing is a beast and a half. The schnitzel layer is spot on. Pure white chicken breast cooked to perfection. Don't let the photos fool you - This thing is huge. I struggled to clear my plate while reviewer Nikki threw in her napkin about halfway through. A great foundation for the dish and really got me thinking that we should put The Duke on the docket for a redo in 2018.
Now the important bit. The toppings, and in this case the "toppings" is a slice of freakin' lasagne.
Before I saw the Larmagiana I was worried. A full sized schnitzel covered in a massive slice of lasagne seemed like it could be a bit of an overload - But I was pleasantly surprised to find that The Duke had used a little restraint. The lasagne topping was just that - a topping, and I think they have found a spot on ratio of schnitzel to lasagne as to know that the lasagne is there, but not have it overpower the schnitzel.
The bolognese sauce was rich, flavoursome and juicy. the ham was plentiful and had an almost prosciutto-like texture (I'm still a little dirty that the Triple Threat didn't win, I love prosciutto).
I know I might be giving those dirty parmo loving dogs some ammunition here, but I actually didn't hate the béchamel sauce with the schnitzel either - But that's only in addition to the bolognese as well, I'm not going to be switching to Team Parmo any time soon.
Oh, and there were pasta sheets! I almost forgot the key ingredient that turned this dish from Parma to Larma. Like I said earlier they didn't go too thick with the lasagne, which I liked, but from my count there were about two layers of pasta sheets in with the rest of the lasagne toppings.
The chips are a little different to when we last tried the Duke parma. Gone are the hand cut potato planks and in their place was a hefty serve of seasoned crinkle cuts. I don't know what it is, but I've always had a soft spot for a crinkle cut chip, and although I didn't enjoy them quite as much as I did the old hand cut variety, these were still a mighty fine side. Well seasoned, well cooked and served nowhere near the underside of the Larmagiana.
The salad was a surprise. Fresh and crisp, I believe it was Reviewer Stefo who coined the term for this kind of parma back when we visited The Aviary, best described as a "Sal-Slaw" (hybrid of salad and coleslaw). It was fresh and crisp with a light, tangy dressing - a perfect palate cleanser to break up the Larmagiana, which, lets face it, is a heavy dish.
I really enjoyed the Larmagiana, The Duke has a winner on their hands here (although are we sure Larmagiana is the right name? I was calling it a Parma-sagne before I realised what they wound up calling it and kind've think my name is better).
I'm not sure if its a permanent addition to the menu or just a limited time thing, but I'd definitely recommend heading down and giving it a crack - A definite must for any parma (or lasagne) lover to try.