Where - 520 Macaulay Rd, Kensington
Price - $24
Website - https://www.kensingtonfoodhall.com.au
When I got tagged in an Instagram post for the Kensington Food Hall I thought to myself "Oh, the place that was Tonik then Lost & Found must have changed owners again", I'll admit that thought made me a little sad, as I quite enjoyed Lost & Found - But luckily I was incorrect, as Kensington Food Hall was just a two doors down from where I initially thought it was.
*UPDATE* After writing this sentence I did a little research and it turns out Lost & Found has closed down, and is now Mr. Griffiths, a burgers and poutine joint. Easy come, easy go!
The Insta post caught my eye. Nice, crisp salad, plenty of fresh, chunky napoli that looked as if it would be right at home atop a pile of pasta. The cheese could use a little more time under the grill and I've never been big on shoestring fries, but if it's a decent parma those are minor criticisms. Worth checking out from the photo alone, we loaded up the parma bus and headed to the Kensington Food Hall.
"Hall" is a very apt term to describe this restaurant. Long and skinny. Someone told me that the building used to be a noodle & sushi shop and I can definitely see the bones of that in the layout.
Nice renovations though, and its not often you can pretty much watch your meal being cooked behind the bar, we toasted our first beers of the evening whilst listening to our parmas crackle away on the hot plate.
We grabbed a seat and checked the menu -
Looks good to me!
The tap list at the food hall is relatively small, very small in fact, not so much a "tap list" as a single tap of the nearby Henry Street Brewhouse's Secret Pale Ale - A fine drop indeed. There are a few more options in the fridge (Little Creatures, White Rabbit, Corona, Asahi & Cascade). Although Henry Street do make a fine beer, an extra option or two on tap would be a nice addition.
About 15 minutes after ordering our parmas appeared from the other side of the bar...
I'll be honest, I was concerned when this parma hit the table - Mostly due to the look of the provolone cheese, but I'll get to that in a moment.
First up, the schnitzel... Surprisingly good. Pure, white chicken breast, well cooked and super juicy. The crumbs flaked off the bottom a little, which is usually a surefire sign of an overcooked and dry parma, but not the case here. The chicken could have been slightly bigger, but no complaints over the size of the dish (we all walked away quite full). All up it was a solid foundation to the dish.
Now, the toppings are where this parma gets interesting. Let's work from the top down:
The Provolone cheese - A bold choice. Super unique and something we have never seen on a parma before. Despite looking as if someone had laid craft singles across the top of the chicken before putting it under the grill it actually carried a pretty great flavour that complimented the dish quite well. It was super gooey when the dish first arrived and I enjoyed it immensely - However, about 3/4's through the parma, as things started to cool down the provolone went a bit hard and lost it's gooey charm - Luckily I was mostly full at this stage and didn't really care that the cheese had lost its lustre, but it's worth noting.
The Ham - Holy cow! ... I mean pig. Holy pig! The ham on the Kensington Food Hall's parma was a flavour explosion. Super strong smoked ham notes penetrated throughout the dish. Super fresh it tasted as if it was freshly sliced right before serving. Super impressive.
The Napoli - I suspected the napoli would be fresh and chunky from the Instagram post that brought us here, and I was right. Although they laid it on a little to heavily for my liking and it was slightly more watery than I would normally like my napoli - it was super fresh and full of flavour. Another tick.
The parma at Kensington Food Hall had a big "home style cooking" vibe. It tasted like the parma your mum used to make. Super fresh ingredients all around. A few faults, but definitely a unique, tasty dish.
Serving shoestring fries is always starting on the back foot for me, but I maintain that if they're done well they can be just as good as an old fashioned pub chip. Unfortunately the fries at the Food Hall didn't quite do it for me. There was a big serve, but they were unseasoned and a little overcooked. Some dipping sauce would have been nice as well. Probably the weakest element of the meal.
As suspected the salad was super fresh and flavoursome, the ingredients tasting as if they were plucked from the garden minutes before serving. Other than the crisp-ness of the cucumber it was a pretty standard garden salad, although they could ease back on the lime juice through the dressing as it was a little bit overpowering.
$24 for the Kensington Food Hall's parma strikes me as a little pricey, but considering the quality of the ingredients used throughout the dish I can't really fault them for it. There aren't any cheap parma nights on the books that I'm aware of, but if one comes to my attention I'll update.
If you're after a parma that's trying something new then give the Kensington Food Hall a try, it's a quality dish with some really bold flavours that is definitely worth checking out.
And let this review stand as proof that if you tag me in a decent looking parma on Instagram, there's a good chance we will drop everything to go and check it out!