And we're back!
Our 3 week hiatus has concluded, and we are back to our quest for the best parma Melbourne has to offer, but rather than dive straight in, I figured I'd share the story of the one parma we found while abroad (with a proper review after, If you're looking for The Keilor Hotel: Redux review, scroll on down)
For some reason, the world doesn't seem to be as infatuated with the humble parma as we are down here, so tracking one down in our three weeks around Europe proved to be a more difficult task than I expected. Luckily enough, in Galway, Ireland of all places, we managed to track one down, so before we get to our next official review, lets quickly go over our Irish parma experience at...
Where - 5-7 Bridge Street, Galway, Ireland
Price - €13.95
Website - http://sevenbridgestreet.ie
Reviewers – Carly, Grace, Kylie, Ivy, Lee, Nikki, Shanan, Tony
Galway is an interesting town. Situated on the west coast of Ireland the town seems to consist mainly of pubs, the main street of the town basically consisting of a pub, next door to a pub, next door to another pub. Basically, it was heaven.
It took a bit of googling but eventually we came across Seven, a bar which, inexplicably, had an Aussie style parma on the menu.
Perfection! Our visit to Galway was about a week into our trip, so at that point I was absolutely hanging for a meal that wasn't a hamburger or hamburger derivative.
Seven is primarily a cocktail bar, which seems to be a rarity for Galway as all of the other pubs we visited were more traditional Irish pubs. The cocktail list was impressive, as was their extensive Gin menu, should a bit of gin tickle your fancy.
About 15-20 minutes after ordering our parmas arrived -
The schnitzel was pure, almost untouched chicken breast. The shape of each parma different wildly around the table, which was great assurance that there was no processed chicken in sight. My schnitzel was a little overcooked compared to the others around the table, but it was surface damage only, under the crispy crumbs a bounty of juicy white chicken breast awaited.
The toppings were pretty good also - The cheese could have used a little more time under the grill, but it was flavoursome and plentiful. I don't think Ireland had gotten the memo about ham on their parmas yet, and as much as I would have enjoyed it, the Seven parma stood up pretty well without it. The napoli was thick, rich and carried a delightful smokey flavour as advertised, The true star of this dish, however, was the herb pesto drizzled on the plate underneath the parma - An amazing addition to the dish that really elevated it to the next level, and being on the plate as opposed to the parma it's easily avoided if its not your cup of tea - Pubs of Melbourne need to take note: Herb pesto drizzle on the plate - The way of the future.
As far as Im concerned, chips in Ireland have no need to exist unless you cover them in curry sauce, so that's exactly what we did for the chips that accompanied our parmas. Absolutely delicious, especially the ones at the bottom of the bowl to soak in the curry for a while - You may need a spoon to eat them, but they're totally worth it.
The chips we ordered that didn't come with the curry sauce paled in comparison to the point I don't feel there's much need to even talk about them. They were chips. Standard, curry-less chips.
The salad was so/so. The cubed beetroot throughout was a nice touch and something we don't see very often, but other than that it was pretty much a standard garden salad. Not bad, but nothing to write home about.
The parma at Seven clocked in at €13.95, which at the time of writing this review converts to about $21.95 Australian Dollars - Standard parma prices and I'd happily pay it again for what we received. I don't think Ireland is familiar with the concept of a "parma night" just yet, so I wouldn't count on any discount nights any time soon.
I wasn't wrapped with the food I had tried in Ireland until I got to Seven. It was a fantastic, tasty dish that could go toe to toe with some of the better parmas we've had in Melbourne, and was probably in the top 5 meals I had in the three weeks we were travelling across Europe.
No score for this review as our reviews abroad fall under the category of "special attempts", but If you ever find yourself in Galway, it's worth checking out.
Oh, and I know you're wondering so I'll answer the question - Yes, Seven does have a mural of Ed Sheeran painted on the outside of the building.
The search continues...
The Keilor Hotel: Redux
Where - 670 Old Calder Highway, Keilor
Price - $24.90
Website - http://keilorhotel.com.au
Reviewers – Lee & Nikki
Okay, now bear with me here, as there is a connection between the Irish parma and this one.
We first reviewed the Keilor Hotel back in 2010, way back in the early days - it was the 15th review we had ever done. You can check it out here, however at the time of writing I seem to have been much more concerned with the arcade machines out the back than the parma itself.
The Keilor Hotel has been around for a long time, it first opened way back in 1849 as the Galway Arms Tavern (See! I told you there was a connection), and to this day, the bistro at the Keilor Pub is still known as the "Galway Arms Bistro", So I figured what better place to come back to after a parma in Galway, to another parma in the Galway Arms!
The Keilor Pub is always a bit of an enigma. It has the vibe of a country pub, yet its a 15 minute drive out of the CBD, and being one of the only pubs in the area it gets busy. We arrived as the bistro opened at 6pm on a Thursday and a lot of the tables were already marked as reserved.
We took our seat in the quickly filling Bistro. Not much has changed since our last visit, or even since I used to visit the Keilor Pub as a kid in the 90's (other than the kids room that used to have super nintendo's set up in it, which is now gonebut I won't fall down another video game hole like I did in the last review)
We checked the menu for our target -
A decent description! Hopefully they could live up to their claims. We placed our orders and waited for the parmas to arrive.
Tap list is what you'd expect for a suburban pub, nothing too crafty on offer - However I did spy some Two Birds, Stone & Wood and Fury & Son stubbies in the fridge, so not all hope is lost!
We started the meal with some garlic & cheese focaccia, which went down an absolute treat, about 20 minutes later our meals arrived from the kitchen.
As is tradition with revisits, lets compare the 2010 parma to its 2018 counterpart -
The Keilor Pub's parma in 2010 -
And what we received last night -
To the Keilor pub's credit - the Schnitzel was served fresh, insanely hot and extremely juicy. It might have been as we were the first patrons through the door the Thursday we were there, but this schnitzel was cooked perfectly.
The crumbing was a bit of a mixed bag. There were soggy patches and there were crunchy patches. The crispy edges to the parma were fantastic, the soggy bits weren't as great.
Toppings were overall pretty good. My first bite tasted a little bland, however once I got to the area with ham the added smokiness really improved this parma. Good coverage of cheese and a tasty enough blend, however halfway through the meal the oil started seperating from the cheese and it got a little bit greasy. The napoli got a little lost amongst the other elements, I think most of it got soaked up into the crumbs before serving.
The chips were pretty standard. Under seasoned and undercooked much like they were in 2010 (although they seem to have changed from a plank chip to a more generic fry). With a bit of salt I managed to bring them back to life, but otherwise they were so/so
On the plate the salad didn't look like anything special, but I was pleasantly surprised when I dug in to find it relatively well dressed under the leaves, with a decent serving of onion, cucumber and tomato. The lettuce leaves could use a little more love though (and what happened to the bowl we had in 2010?)
I'd say $24.90 is a little pricey for the parma they received - I can't fault them for the quality of the ingredients of their parma, no doubt they used a high quality chicken breast for this dish, however the sides were rather lacklustre. The "What's On" section of the website isn't reporting any parma nights that I'm aware of, which is a shame as I'd probably recommend it if they had a special dropping it under $20.
Given that there aren't many pubs out Keilor way I'd probably say that the parma at the Keilor Pub is probably the best you'll get in the area. The pub is an eclectic slice of history that is worth checking out if you're out that way, The parma is serviceable, but I wouldn't be rushing back to try it any time soon.