Where - Wilson & Thomas St. Moonee Ponds
Price - $23 in bistro, $25 in the cafe
Reviewers – Lee & Nikki
I’ve had horses on the brain this week. With the Spring Carnival everywhere you turn in Melbourne it has gotten me thinking about parmas we’ve done in relation to this time of year, and one that keeps popping up in my head is our review of the Legends bistro at Moonee Valley racecourse.
In this redo heavy few months we’ve been having I have been putting a lot of emphasis on pubs that I think got a bit of a raw deal in the past, giving the pubs that scored poorly on the ladder a chance at redemption. Our review of The Valley is kind’ve the opposite. We first reviewed it back in 2011, and due to an insane anomaly in our scoring system (the parma was crap, but the unlimited salad bar, awesome chips and super cheap price tag) meant that it somehow scored unusually well for what was in fact a pretty average parma. “We’ve got to have faith in the system” I used to tell myself, however whenever I would look at the ladder and see it in our top 20 I would wince a little. You don’t belong there, Legends Bistro - I even made an edit to the review in 2015 after a particularly angry email that it probably isn’t as good as it seems, and to approach with caution.
Well synergy is the name of the game in online content these days, so while trying to come up with a Spring Carnival related review idea it struck me. It’s been 7 years since our first visit to the Valley, It’s time to go back and see how much things have changed.
Here’s a tip. If you want to visit The Valley without a booking on a race day… Maybe don’t? We turned up on the evening of Oaks Day with the mindset of “Oh Oaks is at Flemington… No way it will be busy at the Valley!”.
We couldn’t have been more wrong. The place was absolutely pumping. The bistro was packed so we moved through to the Cafe, which had an insanely loud live band and was also pumping. Struggling for a table we pushed through to the TAB, a much quieter alternative and slight respite to the cover band blasting a version of Daryl Braithwaite’s “Horses” at an ear splitting level of decibels.
As we were in the “Cafe” and not the “Bistro” the price of the parma jumped from $23 to $25. Usually the price drops when you move to a sports bar from the restaurant section of a pub, the price jumping is a little unheard of. Either way we placed our order and waited for our buzzers to buzz so we could collect our meals.
Tap list at the Valley is as basic as it gets. If you want anything fancier than a “Frothy” you’re out of luck. Carlton Draught / Victoria Bitter / Carlton Premium Dry / Cascade Premium Light / Great Northern, with some Fat Yaks in the fridge.
Considering how insanely busy the place was, our food was ready surprisingly quickly.
As is tradition with Redo’s, lets compare the 2011 Legends parma with its 2018 counterpart…
A complete transformation! This parma is totally different to its 2018 counterpart. First up the schnitzel was pan fried with super crunchy (not insanely thick, our biggest criticism of it in 2018) crumbs. We got our parmas straight from the grill, the chef literally tonged them onto the plate as I went to the bar to collect them, so it was served piping hot. Slightly overcooked as the chicken was a little dry, but overall schnitzel quality was infinitely better than what we had in 2011.
The toppings were okay. Nothing struck me as super home made but as far as sports bar parmas go there wasn’t a lot to complain about. There was a lot of tasty cheese in the cheese blend which I always enjoy, however the ham and napoli tasted as if they had come straight from a packet/can. Not terrible, but not screaming $25 worth of quality.
I make no secrets of my automatic bias toward shoestring fries. The fries on the 2011 Valley parma were so good that they literally contributed to the breakdown of our scoring system. As far as shoestrings go these ones were acceptable. Could have used a bit of seasoning or dipping sauce, but they were served hot and not underneath the parma, so points for trying at the very least.
I stuck my head into the Bistro on the way out and it seems that the unlimited salad bar that garnered a near perfect score in 2011 is a thing of the past. The salad that accompanied our parma last night was fresh and crisp. It was a little smaller than we would normally like but a seperate serving bowl is always appreciated. Standard garden salad. Nothing to complain about but nothing to write home about either.
$25 for what we were served is a bit pricey, this is a $20-$22 parma at best, especially in a sports bar with no table service and self-serve cutlery. There were posters up around the bar advertising a $17 parma & pot night on Wednesdays - To be honest that sounds like the perfect price point for this parma.
In a weird turn of events the parma at the Valley is better than what it was in 2011, however with the loss of a salad bar, increase in price and switch to shoestring fries the final score much more accurately represents the quality of the parma. It had no business being in our top 20 for as long as it was and now I feel like an ancient injustice has finally been righted. Tonight I’ll sleep better than I have in the past 7 years.
Worth a visit on parma night, don’t make the same mistake we did and avoid on race days.