Where? - 13 Ballarat St. Yarraville
Price? - $21.50
Reviewers – Lee, Nikki & Tony Q.
First things first - When did Yarraville get so insane? Trying to get a carpark at 7pm on a Thursday was harder than snagging a spot at Chadstone on Christmas Eve. The extremely narrow streets didn't help matters either, while everyone else in Melbourne had finished their evening commute Yarraville was in gridlock.
I can see why it was busy, however, Yarraville has transformed into a bustling little community of wine bars, cafes and a massive selection of restaurants - All crammed into a two block radius. If it didn't take us half an hour to park the car I'd be very keen to head back and see what else they had on offer.
In case you missed the title of this article and the picture above, our target for the evening was The Vault. A Hybrid Cafe, Bar & Restaurant that recently got an outstanding write-up in the fantastic Western Suburbs Food Blog Consider the Sauce, in which their Wednesday $15 parma night received a glowing recommendation. Pretty much all I need to give it a crack.
We arrived at the Vault to find a spacious and funky space. Not at all cramped with plenty of seats available (although they did fill up as the night progressed, so best to book if you're considering popping in).
We snagged a booth in the corner, soft and cosy, primo seating for the evening.
If we weren't in the middle of a bitter cold snap I would have considered the front courtyard for our meal. It's high perch at the front of busy Ballarat St. would make it the perfect spot for people watching on a warm night, however on the first day of Winter we were more than happy to stay indoors.
We checked the menu...
That's quite a spiel! I'm normally the one to claim that the a chicken breast be "grilled to perfection" but they've gone and done my job for me.
As I mentioned earlier, the Vault does their parma night on Wednesdays - Unfortunately we were a day late to get the cheap parmas and wound up picking from the full price menu. Thursday nights, however, are Burger Night, and I must say the quality and quantity of burgers we saw coming out of the kitchen bode very well for them. Hopefully their parma was also up to par.
The beer list was extensive. I was surprised to find a place with more of a cafe vibe to have a decent selection of taps running as well as some solid options in the bottle. The drinks list was impressive all round, with a massive range of spirits, wines and cocktails to choose from as well.
We ordered our parmas and eagerly awaited their arrival. If I were one to whinge I'd say we waited a little too long. It wasn't that busy when we ordered and I was well and truly finished with my pint before the food arrived - However just as I was getting concerned the food arrived.
Okay. Guys at The Vault? We may need to have a discussion as to what "grilled to perfection" means.
I mean... You know what my complaint is going to be, right? All three schnitzels were burnt to literal blackness - And the one pictured above wasn't the worst hit, reviewer Nikki's parma fared even worse than this one did.
A shaky start, but we tucked in.
Under the charcoal, the schnitzel seemed to carry a more battered-style than straight crumbs. We've encountered this before to varying degrees of success.
I got glimpses of what they were going for. Once cut the schnitzel was great quality, thick and I could detect the flavours trying to come through on the crumbs, however that was all obliterated due to how the schnitzel was presented.
The toppings were decent. Rich, juicy napoli had some great, homestyle flavour. The cheese was applied liberally and grilled to varying degrees of success (Reviewer Nikki definitely drew the short straw this week, as not only was her parma burnt more than anyone else's the cheese on top was melted less than anyone else's).
The ham was cut thick and also did its best to make its presence on the dish known.
The chips were so/so. A decent sized serving but they were bordering on lukewarm and not a stitch of seasoning on them. A bit of salt brought them partially back to life, but unfortunately not quite enough to satisfy.
The garden salad was one of the weirdest we've ever come across. At its core it was a standard garden salad - Lettuce, onion, cucumber & cherry tomatoes. However the Vault has made the very strange decision to add boiled carrots, eggplant and sweet potato. The lettuce leaves and cucumber were fine - the boiled veggies mixed throughout were out of place. As Kenny perfectly put it in his review - "put this salad in the try-too-hard bag."
There were quality ingredients abound in this review - If it had have been cooked well I would have been perfectly happy paying another $21.50 to try this again. However if you're keen to give it a go maybe err on the side of caution and check it out on Wednesday's $15 Parma night instead.
There were hints of greatness in the Vault parma, There were an abundance flavours trying their hardest to push their way through - However that was all obliterated by a horribly burnt schnitzel that they felt was fine to serve to customers.
Accidents happen, I understand - If they had've come out and said "look, there's been a hiccup in the kitchen, we're just whipping up a fresh batch of parmas for your guys so there's going to be a slight wait ... Here's a drink on us for your trouble" We would have been perfectly happy - But they didn't. They served up a burnt parma, and the meal was quite the disappointment as a result. Won't be rushing back.