Where? - 294 Lygon st. Carlton
Price? - $29.90 for the King Parma
Reviewers – Lee, Nikki & Stefo
It's Twenty-Seventeen! And ParmaDaze is back with a new look website and yet another year of the hunt for the perfect parma ahead.
For the first parma of the year I wanted to find something special. The bar had been set pretty high as the first parma of 2016 was our current highest rated parma of all time, The Birmingham Hotel - Tough to beat!
Bobo's Diner has been on our list for quite a while, I was aiming to get to their Ivanhoe location some time this year (they also have spots in Chirnside Park and Frankston), but it wasn't until a lazy lunch on Lygon (say that ten times fast) during the Christmas break that I noticed that Bobo's opened up a fourth restaurant smack dab in the middle of Carlton.
I had heard stories of Bobo's. Tales of gigantic parmas that were nigh on impossible to finish. Whispers of parmas so huge the menu carried a warning before they were ordered. It had to be done, and what better time than the first parma of 2017. We washed the leaves off the parma bus, loaded it up, and headed to Carlton.
It's hard to pin down what Bobo's actually is. Like a lot of places on Lygon Street it's not quite a bar, not quite a restaurant and not quite a cafe, yet a little bit of all three. I guess the closest thing you could pin it down as is what is written on the window, a Diner.
The menu at Bobo's is stuffed with classic american diner fare. Wings, Hot Dogs, Ribs, Subs, Fried Chicken, Burgers and a sinfully decadent dessert menu - It almost seems out of place to have a selection of parmas available, yet in the centre of the menu, as promised...
They are some insane sounding novelty options (and some insane prices)! Unfortunately none of the review team were quite ready to tackle one of the novelties just yet. We were all boring and ordered up a round of King Parmas for the table.
If you like American beer then Bobo's is the place for you. Only a couple of taps (Coors, Blue Moon & Cider) but a heap of bottled options - 15 that I could count, no less than 7 from the USA (Sierra Nevada, Brooklyn, Samuel Adams to name a few). Some more options on tap might be nice, but there was more than enough to make do. If your tastebuds feel like taking a trip beyond fermented malt, hops and grains Bobo's has a massive cocktail menu, including a selection of "adult" booze-laden milkshakes.
Shortly after placing our order the waitress came around and swapped out our standard knives for steak knives ... I took this as a sign that we were about to encounter something massive, like the room full of ammo and health packs before a boss fight. About 20 minutes after ordering the parmas arrived at the table.
The rumours were true... This thing is a behemoth.
At least two hearty schnitzels fused together, I gathered up my cutlery and tucked in. The chicken beneath the mountain of cheese was pure chicken breast. The schnitzels were slightly overcooked, which led to some dry chicken within but not criminally so.
The crumbing had a solid crunch cut there were one or two slightly burnt spots, although with a schnitzel of this size there were a lot more not burnt spots than there were bunt spots.
"Holy crap thats a lot of cheese" was my first thought on the toppings of this parma. the mammoth schnitzel was topped with a mountain of gooey cheese - Far more than any human should ingest in a single meal, hell it was more cheese than a human should ingest in a week's worth of meals. The gooey goodness was grilled to perfection and complimented the schnitzel well.
The ham was also plentiful, you can see from the photo below that it looks like nearly half a pig sitting atop this chicken - Unfortunately the ham itself lacked any real flavour, if you couldn't see it on the fork it'd be tough to detect it was there just from the taste.
The napoli sauce was the only element of the dish I could have used more of, as I mentioned the schnitzel was a little dry, and a heaping of napoli would have helped compensate for that - unfortunately it was either in short supply or had soaked entirely into the crumbs as I couldn't really find any beyond a few pockets here and there on the back of this massive schnitzel (lets call those "red zones")
We have a phrase at ParmaDaze that you can check out in our FAQ & Glossary, we call it Big Parma Syndrome, a phenomenon that occurs with parmas that err on the side of massive wherein the bigger a parma gets the less overall flavour that comes along with it. Although it started strong, about halfway through this parma the BPS started to set in, there was nothing wrong with it, but it just got a little boring - perhaps I should have gone the novelty topping route after all to keep things interesting.
The chips were pretty standard pub chips. Well seasoned with a few sauce options on every table (tomato, mustard & hot sauce). Serving them not underneath this behemoth of a parma was a master stroke, as you'd never see them again if they wound up under there.
The salad was disappointing. It looked as if a massive bowl of salad was made in the morning that served everyone's plate with a fresh slice of tomato thrown on top to keep it looking fresh. Everything below was wilted and off colour. Not that I had much room for salad after that massive parma, but it would have been nice to be able to break up the cheese onslaught with something fresh and crisp.
This is quite possibly the biggest parma we've had outside of a competitive eating setting, but its also the most expensive parma we've had outside of a competitive eating setting. $29.90 for the king parma blows out to $34.90 if you want one of the novelty toppings - But in saying that you are getting two parmas worth of chicken for the price.
On Wednesday night Bobo's offers their King Parma and a pot for only $20. If its as utterly massive as the parma we consumed last night I'd say this is one of the best value parma deals around (behind signing up to a Parma Knight's membership ... hint hint). As the waitress collected our plates we were given the option to have what was left wrapped up to take home. For the frugal this parma for $20 on a Wednesday could conceivably feed you for two or three days depending on your opinions of reheating food.
If someone asks you where to find the biggest parma around, this is it. The Bobo's King Parma might not be the most flavoursome or have the juiciest schnitzel - It's not going to win any "best parma" awards, but it fills a very specific niche - If you're after a meal so big that you'll be clutching your stomach in pain on the ride home (and thats without another $5 of pulled pork or nachos with chilli con carne layered on top), then this is definitely one to check out.
- Massive. Unbelievably massive.
- Disappointing salad
- Big Parma Syndrome