Where - 11 Stores around Victoria.
Price - Varies, see review for details
Website - http://www.smokinjoespizza.com.au
Reviewers - Lee & Nikki
Is it just me or has the Smokin’ Joe’s franchise sprung up overnight?. I spotted one in Essendon and another in Keilor before doing a bit of research online and discovering they have 11 stores dotted around Victoria alone. Where did they come from?!
Not to be confused with Smoken’ Joe’s, the now closed Essendon institution that we reviewed back in 2012, So many Smokin’ Joe’s storefronts popping up seemingly out of nowhere definitely piqued my interest. We haven’t done a Crossing the Road since June so this week we put the parma bus in park, chucked on some trackie dacks, chilled on the couch and let the parmas come to us.
For the newcomers, our Crossing the Road reviews are a chance to try the parmas in Victoria that you can only get via take-away. There are a lot of delivery parmas in Melbourne, however a good delivery parma is an elusive beast, and Crossing the Road is a chance to find a diamond in the rough.
The Zomato page for Smokin’ Joe’s Keilor is a divisive place. The reviews on the front page are either 5 stars or 1 star, with no shades of grey in-between (along with a very angry patron who has made it his mission to leave abusive, racist replies to almost every review).
Positive or negative, people have strong feelings about Smokin’ Joe’s, so Thursday night, beer in hand and feet up on the coffee table I fired up the laptop to place our order.
Things get a little bit interesting here. On both the menu page and the Online Ordering section of the Smokin’ Joe’s website, the price of the parma is listed at $24.90…
However when I open up Uber Eats I get a different price…
That’s an eight dollar difference. An eight dollar difference that doesn’t even include Uber Eat’s $5 delivery fee.
To make things even more interesting I checked Menulog…
$29.90 on Menulog, however you only get a choice between chips or salad for that price, not both.
How can the price for the same dish vary so wildly between 3 websites? Well I did a bit of research (and by “research” I mean “had a whinge about it to some mates”) and it came to my attention that Uber Eats takes a 30% commission on all orders, while Menulog takes a 15% commission. 30% of 24.90 is $7.50 and 15% is around $3.70. It looks like Smokin’ Joes are upping their prices to cover the delivery service commission. I can see why they’re doing it, but it’s a little bit annoying.
I’d rather save my eight dollars than flush it down the dunny, so I placed the order through the Smokin’ Joe’s website (with a $6 delivery fee, if you’re curious)
I placed the order at 6:05 and the order receipt predicted that my parma would be delivered at 6:50, and I’ll be damned if my parma didn’t arrive at 6:50pm on the dot
Firstly, it was presented very well! The large cardboard serving tray worked a lot better than the foil tray deals that a lot of parma take-aways use. I normally insist on plating up my delivery parmas when they arrive however the box used by Smokin’ Joe’s worked a treat. Plenty of room for both the parma and chips with minimal stacking required.
Now on to the schnitzel. At first glance this looked like a super plump, fresh chicken breast - and while this was mostly correct the schnitzel used in the Smokin’ Joe’s parma was quite heavily crumbed, a move not really necessary as the chicken was thick enough as it is, they didn’t need to inflate it with a heavy crumb.
The continuing problem with delivery parmas has struck again with this one - It just wasn’t hot enough. I can’t put this on the restaurant too much as its a good 15 minute drive from Keilor to my joint, but both the parma and the chips suffered from arriving not quite as hot as we like it.
Toppings were mostly fine. The ham was super smokey and thick cut - Reminded me a lot of a shaved Christmas ham (and the season is upon us! I saw tree’s for sale at Target yesterday). The cheese blend was fine with decent coverage, however this parma was super lacking in the napoli sauce department. most of it had dried out by the time it arrived and there was probably only a 2 square inch section of the parma that I’d consider appropriately sauced.
If the chips had’ve been hot they would have been a triumph. Super thick, a massive serving and well seasoned with chicken salt. Super tasty, just a little dry and not quite as hot as I’d like after the trip from Keilor.
As far as garden salads go I couldn’t ask for much more in a side salad. I’m a sucker for onion, which you can see by the picture below this parma had in spades. It was fresh, crisp and full of flavour. Quite tasty.
I didn’t walk away from this one hungry and the ingredients used in this parma were of acceptable quality - I’d be happy paying another $24 for this parma. However, if I had’ve paid the Uber Eats price of $32.90 I would have been much less forgiving. If you can order this one through the website directly I’d be say it’s worth a try.
Of the 6 Crossing the Road review’s we’ve done I think I’ve ended 4 of them with “It was good … but it was cold”. I guess it’s just something I’ve got to accept that parmas just don’t travel well.
As for the Smokin’ Joe’s parma? I think I’m gonna go against the extreme opinions shown on their Zomato page and say it was alright. We don’t score Crossing the Road reviews but if I were to review this one on Zomato I would probably give it a 3 out of 5 stars … Good, but with room for improvement.
If you live close enough to a Smokin’ Joe’s that you can pick it up yourself to ensure it’s nice and hot then I’d say give this one a go, but I wouldn’t be too disappointed if you were outside of their delivery zone.