Where - 339A Francis St. Yarraville
Price - $24.90 Standard, $25.90 Club Parma
Reviewers – Cale, Lee, Nikki, Stefo
Okay, I'm gonna try and go this entire review without making a Crackerjack joke. Wish me luck.
The story of how we came across the parmas at the Yarraville-Footscray Bowls Club isn't too interesting, but it can't hurt to fill you in.
On one of my many scrolls through the photos tagged with #parma on Instagram I came across this image -
"Hmmm, parma at a bowls club" I thought to myself. Not only that, Parma at a bowls club that looks pretty decent! Fresh Salad. Those chips look well cooked & seasoned, and, if you can look past the ring of fruit atop the pictured parma, it actually looks like a decent bird!
As far as I can remember we have yet to do a bowls club, so we loaded up the parma bus and headed out to Yarraville.
We arrived shortly after 7pm on Thursday and expected to find a relatively quiet bistro. Why would a bowls club be busy on a Thursday night? We walked through the door to find the bistro (pictured below) absolutely packed to capacity ... If you're keen to try this parma it might be best to call in a booking beforehand.
Luckily enough the super friendly staff at the Club said it was fine for us to grab a table in the lounge but still order from the bistro menu.
We grabbed a couple of pints from the bar, sat down at our table and checked the menu...
I thought it was gonna be an easy decision, but down at the bottom of the menu the club also snuck in this little extra...
I like the term "club parma". I don't think I've seen it before but reckon it should take off. Living in a world where a pub has their standard parma to please the crowds as well as a "club parma" for which they have the opportunity to get a little creative is a world I would be happy to live in.
We placed our orders at the bistro. 3 of us opting for the classic parma and Reviewer Stefo giving the Club Parma a crack.
Kicking back while we waited for our parmas to arrive the weekly raffle draw started up. I was gutted that we arrived after ticket sales had closed, that prize of a lamb roast with a 6 pack of VB stubbies attached would have made my weekend.
You'd be silly to walk into a bowls club expecting anything remotely craft on tap, so only the basics here. Carlton Draught, Dry, VB, Pure Blonde. It was all served cold and expertly poured.
After a cheeky entree of Garlic Bread, the main event arrived about 20 minutes after placing the order...
I didn't really know what to expect with a Bowls Club parma. Would it be a supermarket deli window pre-fab schnitzel or something worth writing home about (or at least writing a parma-themed blog about?) It could have gone either way, so imagine my relief when the schnitzel this parma was based on was a pure, white thick chicken breast. So juicy that my initial cut actually sprayed a little as if I was cutting into a chicken Kiev.
It was insanely thick and well cooked - My one (and only) gripe about the schnitzel would be the crumbing was quite soggy, to the point where the bottom layer flaked away almost instantly, However this is a minor quibble to an otherwise outstanding schnitzel
Great coverage with the toppings. Plenty of napoli, ham and cheese to go around. Although lacking a little in the flavour department everything was cooked & grilled to perfection and served steaming hot. The toppings were fine all around, although I think the salami, capsicum and olives of the Club Parma would have brought the parma to another level, Reviewer Stefo agreed.
The parma was good, but the chips were the standout of the dish. Crunchy on the outside, pillowy soft on the inside and extremely well seasoned. Hard to fault beyond the need for some sauce, kicking myself that I didn't think to order a side of gravy to go alongside this parma.
The salad was fresh and light, reminded me of a garden salad you'd make at home to accompany a barbecue on a summery weekend. Not outstanding, but by no means unpleasant.
$24.90 did strike me as a little pricey, especially for a parma at a bowls club, but at the same time I've never seen a bowls club so well staffed (I counted 5 people on the floor alone, not counting the kitchen), so its understandable that they've got to pay wages - and I don't mind throwing a few extra dollars on my meal to support the Club.
They do run a Wednesday parma night for $13.90 which, if the parma remains the same quality that we had last night, is insanely good value, and I would urge everyone to stop in then and check it out (if you do, let me know if there is any quality drop!)
If you're after a quality, home style parma in a relaxed environment then the Yarraville-Footscray Bowling Club is definitely one worth trying out should you be in the area. If you have kids there is a "Kids Zone" set up at the back of the bistro with some video games and such. Quality chicken, expertly assembled and a bargain on Wednesdays.
Of course, the most famous game of bowls was between Sir Francis Drake and Lord Howard in Plymouth Hoe in 1588, with the Spanish Armada sailing up the English Channel...