Where - 12-14 Napier St. Essendon
Price - $18
Reviewers – Kim, Lee, Nikki, Pat
As much as I have enjoyed the last 9 years searching for the perfect chicken parma, every now and then a Thursday night comes along that I totally can’t be bothered heading out far for a parma night. Sure parmas are pure bliss in the form of chicken, cheese and tomato sauce, but after a long day of work loading into the car to tackle the dickheads on Melbourne CBD’s roads does not sound like an enticing proposition.
Because of this occasional fit of laziness when a new local spot opens up offering a parma I am very, very interested. When we first started back in 2010 we pretty much hit the local spots first and our options were more or less exhausted by review #15.
Enter the Peppertree (or The Pepper Tree. The sign outside says Peppertree but their facebook and instagram says Peppertree, so I’m not quite sure). Newly opened wine bar/beer garden in Essendon (a stones throw from Essendon Station) that is literally a 5 minute drive from home. We have come across the establishment in the past, in a previous life it was known as Mr. Kronk’s, another restaurant/beer garden that went out of business pretty much the moment our review of it went live.
Anyway this intro has gone on for far too long. It was close, it sounded good, so we went to the Peppertree.
You can either worm your way through the corridors inside or take a shortcut through the laneway at the side, but I assure you, the beer garden is hidden away back there, and its actually a very pleasant spot on a warm spring evening. We grabbed a seat and checked the menu…
$18 on the standard menu, already off to a good start however I did notice the lack of ham in the description. We placed our orders and waited for dinner to arrive.
If you like Colonial beers then you’re in luck, The Peppertree outdoor bar has 4 Colonial options (2 standard beers, a mid strength and a cider) on tap. I’m a fan of Colonial so this didn’t bother me at all, if you don’t like Colonial you may run into a little bit of trouble.
About 20 minutes after ordering (and after enjoying a lovely entree of garlic bread and meatballs) our parmas arrived from the kitchen.
I was first struck by the size of this parma. For only $18 we got a bird that nearly engulfed everything on the plate. Fantastic value right off the bat. The schnitzel was lovingly crumbed, real chicken and well cooked - A minor complaint, I did find my chicken to be slightly tough, however asking around the table nobody else had this issue at all so I’m thinking it was a solitary isolated hiccup.
Pure white chicken breast with a home cooked vibe. A solid foundation to the dish.
When I read the menu I had the feeling I would be disappointed that this parma didn’t have ham, and I was right. Don’t get me wrong, the cheese and napoli were spot on. Great coverage of cheese and grilled to perfection with a rich, flavoursome napoli that brought it all together - However I kept thinking to myself how much better it would be if a nice slice of smokey ham was between the two.
The chips and salad were both fine. Nothing to write home about but at the same time nothing spectacular. The chips were well seasoned and the salad was fresh & crisp, well put together but nothing of not to report. They served their purpose.
I said it before but $18 for this parma is an outstanding deal, that is a parma night price available 7 days a week - and if that’s not enough The Peppertree are also throwing in a pot of Colonial with your $18 parma if you head down on a Monday. Amazing deal.
If the price was higher I would probably be a little more critical, however for only $18 complaining about some lacklustre sides seems trivial. This is a huge feed in a great little beer garden, cool atmosphere, good food and it won’t break the bank. If you live nearby I definitely recommend checking it out (on Monday especially).