Where? - 2-8 Bourke St. Melbourne
Price? - $26
Reviewers – Lee, Nikki & Tony S.
Okay. Deep breath. Lets do this.
If you're new to ParmaDaze, a bit of back story. Before The Birmingham pipped them at the post, Bourke Street's Imperial Hotel was our champion for quite a while, so long that they took our our golden chook award for four years straight. It was a damn fine parma and an absolute delight to behold.
Then the unthinkable happened. Reports started coming in that the Impy parma had taken a dip in quality. "Surely not" I thought to myself, "there's no way they'd do that". However the emails and comments kept coming in ... Something was amiss with the Imperial's parma, so last night we loaded up the parma bus and headed in to investigate.
First things first, the Imperial looks great. A coat of paint and a facelift both inside and out has really injected new life into the old girl.
The pub was absolutely pumping when we arrived on Thursday night, so much so we almost didn't get a table as they were booked solid, but we lucked out and managed to snag one in the front bar.
We spied the menu...
Good to see the price tag hasn't changed at least.
One thing I love about the renno's at the Impy are the new beer founts they have put in (pictured in the bar pic above). With a clear window at the top you can actually see the colour of the beer before it is poured. No more accidentally ordering a stout when you felt like something light.
The moment of truth arrived. The parmas appeared from the kitchen. As is tradition with Redo's lets have a look at a before-and-after...
It looked okay! At initial inspection I thought to myself "this is fine! sure its slightly smaller than usual but nothing too bad. Maybe its all just an exaggeration?"
We cut in and started eating. Seemed fine, however the change readily became apparent... There has definitely been a dip in schnitzel quality.
It's subtle, but its there. The chicken is smaller and thinner, which leads to it being less plump and juicy than its predecessor, not to mention the crumbs don't have as crisp of a crunch as they used to. Don't get me wrong - This is still a fine example of a parma and anyone eating the Impy parma for the first time would still rate it pretty highly. But there has definitely been a change, and that change is almost entirely due to the drop in quality of the schnitzel.
However, not all of the changes were for the negative. One of our major criticisms of the Impy parma in the past was that it was always quite light on the napoli sauce - This is a problem of the past as they have most definitely upped their napoli sauce game. All of the toppings seemed to have received a boost, actually - Mountains of cheese, rivers of napoli and lashings of ham on a parma that always felt slightly light on the stuff up top.
The chips are also ever-so-slightly improved with the addition of a dusting of herb flakes throughout. Still served in a seperate bowl and still the near perfect example of how to do a beer battered chip, the sprinkle of seasoning both looks and tastes great.
The salad is the same. Still loaded with shaved parmesan and balsamic, enough to negate any sort of health benefit you would hope to gain from eating a salad - just the way we like it.
While quite pricey at $26 the Impy always got a pass from us on value as it used the highest quality ingredients. Now, I'm not too sure. To be honest if cost is a factor I'd happily pay an extra few bucks to return the parma to its former, amazing glory.
I don't normally do my outro after giving scores, but there is some stuff to clarify both before and after scores this week. So be sure to read right to the bottom.
Okay, so, scores.
The old score for the Impy parma was a whopping 9.25. However after schnitzelgate 2017 I'm starting by deducting 2 points off that for the drop on schnitzel quality for the Imperial parma - However they are gaining 1 point back due to the increase in topping quantity and quality since our last visit, leaving the parma score at a respectable 8.25.
The chips used to also be at 9.25. With the addition of the new seasoning I'm giving it an ever-so-slight bump to 9.5.
The salad remains unchanged to the score remains unchanged, so holding firm at 8.17
I'm not quite as happy shelling out $26 after the drop off in schnitzel quality, so I'm docking the Impy another point in value from 9.25 to 8.25.
Lets see how that plays out!
Parma - 8.25
Chips - 9.5
Salad - 8.17
Value - 8.25
Total - 8.48
8.48, down from 9.03 is still a damn respectable score (and rightfully so, as its still a pretty great parma) and amazingly the score drop doesn't drop them out of their spot of 2nd place on the ladder - It does, however, open up a pretty wide gap for another pub to slip in and take their place.
To the lads at the Impy if you're reading this - I still love your pub, the renno's look great, but please take this as an intervention to restore your parma to its former glory. Hell with the other improvements you've made if you brought back the OG schnitzels you may even have a shot at the crown once more, and we'd be one step closer to finding the perfect parma.
Oh, and let me have a parma on the roof!