Where - 360 Elizabeth St. Melbourne
Price - $17, soft drink included
Website - None, other than this Facebook Page
Reviewers – Lee
Inspired by the immortal Jason Derulo I was ridin' solo this week, circumstances found me alone in the middle of the CBD and with some time to kill so I figured I'd take the opportunity to review one of the most requested spots in ParmaDaze history - Food Inc.
Why is it the most requested? Well, there are a few reasons:
- It is directly at the top of the escalator leading out of Melbourne Central Station, lots of food traffic.
- It isn't open for dinner, so we could never get there on a Thursday night to actually clear it from our list.
- Their signage makes a very bold claim...
For quite a while now Food Inc. has been claiming that they serve up the "Biggest, Baddest parma in Melbourne"
What they mean by "baddest" is certainly up for debate, whether they're using the classic definition of the word or using it in the way that the villain in The Wizard feels about his power glove remains to be seen.
Food Inc. has thrown down the gauntlet, I had an afternoon to kill so I ventured inside and checked the menu...
I placed my order at the counter and took a seat. The Food Inc. parma comes with a free soft drink, so rather than check the beer list as I usually would I opted for a Coke instead. The cafe is licensed, I saw at least one beer tap behind the counter, but it's hardly a pub-worthy selection (fair enough, as they are a cafe).
It's also worth noting that Food Inc. shares its name with a scathing documentary on the corporate food industry. Watching Food, Inc. before going to Food Inc. is not recommended.
The parma arrived quickly, about 10 minutes after ordering it appeared on the table in front of me.
If you're looking at the above picture and thinking "Oh no", our thought processes are similar. With great hesitance I picked up my cutlery, tucked in, and ... It actually wasn't as bad as it looks. The choice of crumbs makes the schnitzel appear to be your lowest denominator pre-fab deli window schnitz, but to be honest it was better than I was expecting - Not great, but acceptable.
As far as the claim of "biggest", I mean, it was pretty big? definitely enough to eclipse all of the chips on the plate, but we've definitely had bigger (Bobo's Diner comes to mind).
The toppings were so/so. I freely admit that I enjoy a tasty-cheese heavy cheese blend, which the Food Inc. parma had, however it desperately needed more mozzarella to give it a little more stretch and reduce the radioactive yellow colouring a little. the perfect circles of ham were not visually appealing, but also weren't too offensive when playing off the other elements.
This was a napoli-heavy parma, which helped a lot with some of the dryness issues from a slightly overcooked schnitzel. Definitely out of a tin, the abundance of sauce was a little bit sweet for my liking, a richer, chunkier home made napoli would have served this dish much better.
You may not believe me from the above photos, but there were chips with this parma, and they actually weren't that bad - Probably the best part of the dish. Beer battered, cooked and seasoned well. I normally claim that any parmaficionado worth his salt can re-arrange a plate to save the chips from their steamy prison before too much damage is done, however Food Inc. plate didn't leave much room for rearrangement, it wasn't till I was halfway done that I managed to free the rest of the chips from their sauna.
The salad wasn't great. Some lettuce, two slices of cucumber and a tomato wedge. No dressing, just veggies on a plate. The cucumber was fresh and crisp but otherwise there's no love lost with this salad.
$17 is an impressive price point, I couldn't tell you the last time we had a parma below $20 on a non-parma-night, let alone one with a free soft drink included in the price.
The Food Inc. parma was not the biggest, and not the "baddest" in either definition of the word. If the price tag is all you're concerned about then it might be worth checking out, its a cheap feed that you won't walk away from hungry - But if you find yourself in the middle of Melbourne there are most definitely better options around.