Where? - 1 Plenty Rd. Preston
Price? - $24.90
Reviewers – Lee & Nikki
Junction #3 is located on the Preston/Thornbury border, nestled in the wedge between the junction of Plenty Road and High Street. It's a cool looking building, a little backwards as the back beer garden is at what I would consider the front of the pub (on the corner), but whatever works for them.
Lets not mince words - The Junction is a pokies pub. Top to bottom every sign in the place is either advertising some sort of gambling or begging you to sign up to their "Pegasus Rewards Program" - Which actually has a some parma-related benefits that I'll get into in a moment.
We arrived at the Junction, pulled up into the ample carpark out the back and headed in. The onslaught of signs for the Pegasus Rewards was bordering on laughable, but the first one I did notice was a picture of a parma with the caption "Two for one meals 7 days a week". Hm. Okay, that seems like a good deal.
We entered the empty bistro (it was early, just before 6pm) and grabbed a seat. The first question we were asked by the very friendly staff was if we were members. We said no and got the standard menu. We spied our target for the evening.
The price struck me as a little much. $24.90 is top-tier parma pricing ... Asking that much for a parma at a pokies pub is pretty much unheard of! It'd better be damn good for that price. We placed our orders at the bar, grabbed a beer from the very limited tap menu and waited for the food to arrive.
I can't say the interior decor at the Junction is my favourite. It's very brightly lit and furnished, not an ounce of dank to be seen anywhere. Beyond the bistro is the Sports Bar, which fares a little better (There's a $16 parma on the menu in there, not sure what is different about it), and past that is the aforementioned beer garden - Which I actually thought was pretty neat. The corner location would make it a great spot for some people watching on a lazy weekend afternoon.
After downing an entree of some quite tasty and generously topped bruschetta, the main event arrived from the kitchen...
We armed ourselves with cutlery, tucked in and ... Holy shit that's hot! The parma was absolutely piping hot to a degree we have rarely experienced in over 300 reviews. It was scalding. Normally a parma cools down as you eat it - I was still blowing this parma cool to the last bite.
The plate was hot too, and the schnitzel was quite dry. Did they keep the parma under heat while we ate our bruschetta and it dried out/heated up in its time there? If that was the case I would have much preferred a juicier parma that wasn't burning with the heat of a thousand suns.
Other than the dryness of the parma the schnitzel was decent. A little small for the price tag but at least it was real, unprocessed chicken breast. Crunchy crumbs that were bordering on being too thick, but acceptable. It's actually a real shame that it was so dry as I think this one had the potential to be surprisingly decent.
The toppings were a bit of a mixed bag. The three cheese blend was spot on - Flavoursome, plentiful and grilled to perfection.
The ham slice was appreciated however it was a little lost amongst the other elements. The napoli was pretty much just tomato paste from a can (either that or the parma's time under the heat lamps evaporated the napoli to a tomato-paste like state)
The chips were fine. Unexciting but fine. Cooked well (not as hot as the parma) and dusted with chicken salt, which is always a nice surprise. Regretted not getting a side of gravy for chip dippage, and could have used an extra handful of chips on the plate at least.
The visually striking colourful salad was topped with a bright yellow dressing that I assumed was some sort of honey-mustard, but on tasting it didn't get that at all. Maybe its just me but I got a strong "seafood cocktail sauce" vibe from the dressing that just didn't go at all. I'm normally a fan of heavily dressed salads, but in this case it was a little too much and just didn't work for me.
At full price this parma is not at all worth it. If we had've signed up as members and gotten it as part of a 2 for 1 meal deal it would have been passable, but definitely not 25 bucks worth.
Members also have access to a $16 parma for lunch, and there is a "Parmas of the World" night on Wednesday nights that nets you a novelty parma (Mexican, Italian, Spanish, Hawaiian, Greek or Traditional) for $15. If you qualify for any of the not-full-price options then maybe it's worth a crack, otherwise I'd give it a wide berth.
There is a lot to like about the Junction. The beer garden was cosy, the staff were super friendly and attentive, the bruschetta was a tasty entree - But the parma had one too many stumbles for me to recommend it. I think it's likely that we just got a bad one as it had some quality elements trying to shine through, however I can't see myself hurrying back to confirm if that theory is true.