Attempt #135 -'The Spotted Mallard'

tumblr_inline_mklkzlucwk1qz4rgp Apologies for the horrid pic, I realised at the last moment that I didn’t take one, that moment being sitting at the traffic lights out the front as we were leaving, snapped this photo as the lights turned green.


When? - 28th of March, 2013

Where? - The Spotted Mallard, 314 Sydney Rd, Brunswick

Price? - $19

Website? -

Reviewers – Janet, Lee, Matt, Pat, Shanan[/info]


This is gonna be a tough one. It’s not often that I disagree with the other reviewers at the table as much as I did this week, Part of the reason this review is a few days late is that I needed time to process what we ate and form my opinion… Oh well, lets dive in!

As a pub, The Spotted Mallard is a hidden gem. Walking past the lobby and seeing the unassuming wooden staircase one wouldn’t believe that it opens up to a massive ballroom-style space up above, with a great selection of craft beers and stellar balcony to watch the world of Sydney Road pass by below.

We arrived and took our seats, Famished and looking forward to my parma I had a leaf through the menu … and my heart sank.


The chicken parma at The Spotted Mallard does not use chicken breast, it uses chicken thigh. And this is where the major conflict of the night arose, as I cannot stand chicken thigh. (be prepared to read the word “thigh” a lot in the next few minutes… its gonna come up often)

I know people say that it carries a sweeter flavour than breast, and I have no problems eating thigh in a curry or something else heavily spiced, but a parma is supposed to be chicken breast. White, thick and juicy, how The Spotted Mallard were going to hammer a tiny chicken thigh into a workable parma was beyond me.

We placed our order and awaited the arrival of our meals. In preparation for typing up this review I visited the website for the Mallard and found this…


Last updated on the 14/10/12. Why would they change from breast to thigh?

A pint later, our parmas arrived at the table… I did my best to set aside my pre-conceived notions of thigh meat, and tucked in.


As suspected, there was no way they were serving up a full sized parma made from thigh meat, so instead we got two smaller parmas on the same plate. I tucked in, and did my best to enjoy it, but cutting through that grey thigh meat just turned me off.

The toppings, on the other hand, were great. The cheese was tasty, the napoli was home made, fresh and delicious and the prosciutto added its trademark saltiness to the dish that I can’t get enough of.

I just wish they had’ve used breast. It would have been amazing with breast.

The hand cut chips were great - crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, they were in desperate need of some salt and maybe a dipping sauce, but gotta love a quality hand cut chip.

I have a problem with coleslaw for salad that I’ve mentioned in the past. I love that they are doing something different to a garden salad, and (for a pile of coleslaw) it was delicious. But coleslaw, especially home made coleslaw is a very rich dish, and a small garden salad to the side to break it up a little would have been greatly appreciated.


As you can see the other reviewers were a bit more open minded than me, but I just couldn’t get past the fact that it was thigh. I just can’t think of the reason as to why they switched to thigh meat for a chicken parma. Is it a cost issue? Because I’d be happy to chip in a couple of extra bucks for breast. It would have been great with breast.

Or is it just to be different? To stand out from the crowd? Look, I’m all for a unique parma (Palookaville’s parma-ish still stands as one my favourites), but there’s being unique, and being unique at a detriment to the dish - and in my (surely unpopular) opinion, The Spotted Mallard have crossed that line.

If you don’t mind thigh, check it out.

If you feel the same way that I do, still check it out for the pub alone (its a must-see location) - but you might want to avoid the parma.

What can I say? I’m a boob man, not a leg man.

Parma - 6.5
Chips - 6.9
Salad - 4.19
Value - 5.8
Total - 5.98

The search continues…

Rare and Reclusive, Oft-Neglected, Lesser Spotted Mallard on Urbanspoon

Attempt #132 - 'The Nixon'

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When? - 7th of March, 2013

Where? - The Nixon, 757 Bourke st. Docklands

Price? - $22.90

Website? -

Reviewers - Adam, Cale, Fridge, Janet, Lee, Matt, Nikki[/info]


Despite hearing good things about The Nixon, it wasn’t our first choice for this week. The weekly vote on our facebook page had us going to Outback Jack’s instead, however when I called to book OBJ’s on Thursday afternoon I discovered that the Docklands Outback Jack’s had gone out of business … something that their website fails to mention.

I was a relieved to be honest, I had little faith that Outback Jack’s would serve up a good parma. For one thing, they call it a parmy on their menu. Never a good sign!

So the location fell to whoever came in second in the vote, and that was … unnecessary drumroll… The Nixon! I made the booking and later that night we were walking in the door, under the shadow of Etihad stadium



When we arrived the pub trivia night was already underway, just waiting at the bar for a drink I knew the answers to all of the questions I heard, So I definitely want to head back and give it a go - Although a 6:30 start time struck me as odd, so early!

We grabbed some pints and made our way into the dining room, checked the menu and eyed our prize -


Sounds good to me! We placed the order for seven parmas and awaited their arrival while trying to work out why the pub has such a reverence for Richard “Tricky Dick” Nixon, The chicken wire bust is pretty cool, but… Just… Why Nixon?

Before too long (about half a pint) our parmas arrived from the kitchen -


I had to rotate the plate so the chips and salad were visible, so you can’t quite tell from this pic, but this parma was an absolute monster, here is another pic so you can get a better impression of the size of this beast.


She was a monster.

Now, in the past, parmas like this have fallen prey to what we have dubbed ‘big parma syndrome’ which is basically when you get these big’uns, they get boring far too quickly, and just end up being bland and monotonous.

The Nixon, however, did not suffer from big parma syndrome - the “three cheese mix”of cheeses gave the whole meal a fantastic flavour, with that tasty cheese tang penetrating through the whole meal and actually reminded me a little of the Prince of Wales parma from all those years ago.

The chicken was not processed and thick enough, the smoked ham added a great flavour to the dish and the crumbs were just right - not too thick, and maintained a solid crunch.

My only criticism would be the napoli - It tasted canned, processed and boring, more tomato soup than tomato napoli


The ‘steak chips’ were great. well cooked, crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside and well seasoned with chicken salt, which is always a winner. Could’ve been a few more on the plate, although with the size of the bird above the chips nobody left hungry.

The salad was surprisingly good, initially looking like a plain old garden salad, we quickly discovered a few olives and even a chunk of feta cheese that complimented the side perfectly. Pleasantly surprised


The Nixon parma is massive, there is no way you are walking away from that plate wanting more. I would be more than happy to pay $22.90 again for that dish any day of the week. They run a $15 Parma n’ Pot Night on Tuesday nights which, if the parma maintains the same quality as the one we had last night, is an outstanding deal and I would claim one of the best value parma nights going around.

I’m regarding Outback Jack’s being closed as a happy accident, as the parma we had instead was damn impressive. The perfect spot for a pre-footy parma. Trivia looked like a lot of fun as well, so if you’re in the area  at 6:30 be sure to give it a try.

And in Victoria it’s Parma, not Parmy. (I try to stay impartial on that debate, but I’m putting my foot down. It’s a Parma) That’s why you went out of business Outback Jack’s!

Parma - 7.07
Chips - 7.29
Salad - 6.93
Value - 6.79
Total - 7.03

The search continues…

The Nixon Hotel on Urbanspoon

Attempt #131 - 'The Quiet Man: Redux'

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When? - 28th of Feb, 2013

Where? - The Quiet Man Irish Pub, 271 Racecourse Rd. Flemington

Price? - $19.90

Website? -

Reviewers - Janet, Lee, Nikki, Shanan, Stefo, Pat[/info]

This review is a redo of a previously reviewed parma - check out the original attempt Here

First things first - I love The Quiet Man. It’s the quintessential Irish pub that doesn’t feel forced or fake, the atmosphere is great, the beer is always cold and the food, other than the parma. has always been top notch (the stew pots served in a hollow loaf of bread are a particular favourite)

Now, in the previous paragraph I mentioned that the food Other than the parma has always been good. I held this opinion for a long time, as back in May of 2010 we visited The Quiet Man for a parma review - Our #6th parma review, and it didn’t fare too well at all.

So when we received word that there had been a changeup in chefs and a revitalized menu (including a new and improved parma) we were champing at the bit to give it another go, so last night we loaded up the parma bus and headed to Flemington for a revisit to The Quiet Man.

Everything I said about the atmosphere in the original review still stands. The Quiet Man is cosy, warm and inviting. We took our seats and checked the menu -


The standout change to the description of the Quiet Man’s parma was the addition of bacon instead of ham. I love bacon. I love parmas. And I flipping adore bacon on parmas… Hopes were high when we placed the order.

It was a fair wait before our food arrived so I took the opportunity to look through my phone and reminisce about the last time we visited. I made sure to check the photo to refresh my memory of what the old parma looked like -


Then our parmas arrived, would there be a big change? or would it be the same thing with a bit of bacon…


Wow! Quite an improvement (visually at least). Without hesitation we tucked in.

The parma was greatly better across the board. Quality schnitzel of a solid thickness and not over crumbed,  A less redonkulous amount of cheese than last time, plenty of chunky, fresh napoli and a generous hit of bacon - Normally bacon parmas can be a bit stingy with their pork, but not this one, plenty to go around.

Despite being thick the chicken itself was a tad dry and stringy, but this is a minor complaint over an overall great parma - and a stellar improvement over what it was.


The chips were classic ‘fish and chip shop’ chips, that didn’t go over too well with some reviewers. There were plenty of them and they were well seasoned, but they had a slightly odd taste to them that threw us, after much consideration our working theory is that they were cooked in the same oil in which the fish is prepared, giving them a very slight fishy taste.

The garden salad was massive and bursting with flavour. plenty of ingredients brought what could have been a rather boring garden salad to life. Lettuce, onion, carrot, capsicum and cherry tomatoes all did very well. A fitting accompaniment to the dish.


In this day and age its a surprise to find a parma under $20, and clocking in at $19.90, the price of the QM’s parma makes me happy. No  ’parma nights’ that I could see, but I’d be more than happy to return and pay that again for what we got. More than happy.

Out of the 3 redo’s we have done so far, The Quiet Man’s parma has shown the most improvement over it’s predecessor. They have put a fantastic amount of effort in to give new life to what was once a very mediocre parma. It’s still not perfect and has a few issues, but it pleases me to no end that The Quiet Man’s parma has now been brought up to a level where I would have to think long and hard about my decision to get a parma or a stew pot next time I’m there.

Parma - 7.42
Chips - 4.67
Salad - 6.83
Value - 7.55
Total - 6.78

The search continues…

Attempt #130 - 'The Post Office Hotel'

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When? – 21/2/13

Where? – 231 Sydney Rd. Coburg

Price? - $25

Website? -

Reviewers – Fridge, Lee, Nikki, Pat, Stefo[/info]

The Post Office Hotel fell onto our radar after a comment was made on a great article written by long-time friends of Parma Daze, Chris Canty


The past few weeks we’ve been going over the other side of town, so a recommendation that doesn’t have us driving over the Bolte in peak hour traffic was more than welcome.

Arriving at the post office I was taken back - I was not expecting a pub so gorgeously renovated. The pub looks superb. Exposed brick and polished wood floors make this one sexy establishment, and the pool table, beer garden and oh-so-comfy lounge area gives you a reason to stay long after the plates have been cleared away.

We checked the menu and spied our target…


There is an eggplant parma available in the dining hall, but 1) we were in the pub and 2) eggplant is icky.

We placed our orders at the bar and took our seats - food was pouring out the kitchen left right and center, and it all looked fantastic - The hamburgers looked especially good and I’ll definitely be popping back in for one in the future.

After a decent wait (35 - 40 minutes) our parmas arrived…


If I had that monkey’s paw that they found on that one Halloween episode of The Simpsons, my wish would be this -


“I wish for a parma that’s thick and juicy, Well cooked, with crumbs that aren’t too thick, and chips to the side that are fresh and well salted”

And the POH parma would be that wish, granted…


And at first, it was fantastic, the first few bites of the POH were bliss, the ingredients are all of the highest caliber and top notch.

However, we all know the curse of the Monkey’s Paw - that it twists the wisher’s words into something unexpected…

An odd complaint, but the chicken schnitzel was just too thick, I took a second cross section pic to show just how thick it got -


As reviewer Nikki so eloquently put it, “its just too chickeny” (we are in talks with webster’s to get “chickeny” added in next year’s dictionary). A slice of ham was desperately needed on this oh so thick bit of bird to break up the assault of chicken on the senses.

And the wish for thin crumbs? they were too thin, giving the parma no *crunch*, as I said before, it was just so chickeny

Our wish for a well cooked parma was partially twisted as well, as a few reviewers around the table noted that the bottom of there schnitzel was a little burnt, almost black in places.

The wish for “well salted” chips also came back to bite us. Now I love a well seasoned chip as much as the next bloke, maybe even more than then next bloke, but these shoestring fries, despite being well cooked and quite tasty, were so damn salty my mouth started to burn.

I can’t really complain about the salad, because it delivered exactly what was promised on the menu - a “mixed leaf salad”, and that’s exactly what it was. A pile of different lettuce leaves, very well dressed and tasty, but just boring overall. What ever happened to hearty salads? … with lots of stuff in them.


I didn’t really mind shelling out $25 for this parma, despite my complaints all the ingredients were of superb quality, and I can’t fault them for charging a bit more for the good stuff.

Even though I had a bit of a whinge, the POH parma is worth giving a go - All the elements of a great parma are there, they just need some slight tweaks to push them up the scoreboard. If they added a slice of ham (or bacon, or prosciutto, or any sort of pork product) and whacked the chicken breast with a mallet a few times this would be a parma in contention for the top ten. Unfortunately a couple of issues dragged it down.

Hopefully the next poor soul to find that monkey’s paw will put it to good use…


Parma - 6.7
Chips - 5.2
Salad - 5
Value - 5.2
Total - 5.76

The search continues…

The Post Office Hotel on Urbanspoon

Attempt #129 - 'The Village Belle'

tumblr_inline_mi8f78wkhV1qz4rgp [info]

When? – 14/2/13

Where? – 202 Barkly Street. St. Kilda

Price? - $13 Parma Thursdays, $20.90 Regularly

Website? -

Reviewers – Cale, Fridge, Lee, Matt, Nikki, Stefo, Tony[/info]

In the words of the great Ian Malcom from Jurassic Park 2 …


“Hang on. This is gonna be bad…”

The Village Belle was not our first choice - It was on the facebook poll as an option but came in 2nd to the Hotel Grosvenor. Unfortunately due to Saint. Valentine the Grosvenor was running a set menu on Thursday night which (shockingly) didn’t include a parma.

The Belle is deceptively massive, the huge bistro leads into a massive public bar, and goes much deeper than expected back into a sports bar and pokies area. Lots of little nooks and crannies to get lost in.

At first we took a seat by the window in the public bar for a few pints while we waited for everyone to arrive, open windows led out to a great view of the world passing by on Acland St. fantastic for people watching.

Once the team arrived we moved into the Bistro and took our seats, found the menu and realised we had a choice ahead of us -


A decent range, most of us decided on the Traditional but Reviewer Fridge went with the Hawaiian and Reviewer Cale went with the Bolognese. Upon placing our order we got an unexpected surprise … It was parma night! Thursday at the Village Belle just got a lot easier on the wallet as the price dropped from $20.90 to a flat $13 for all varieties.

Bargain! I was stoked with that little win.

Then the meals arrived…


My heart sank. The edges were burnt, and there was a major case of slippery cheese, indicating that this parma had a long stay under the heat lamps while waiting for the other ones to be ready.

Hoping to be pleasantly surprised I cut into it. I wasn’t surprised. the schnitzel was insanely dry with very little redeeming factor. The napoli tasted canned, the ham give it a little flavour and the cheese was rather rubbery.

I really believe this parma was destroyed by the heat lamps, as reviewer Matt said his actually wasn’t that bad - The working theory is that Matt’s was the last parma off the rank, while everyone else waited for his to be done. Murdering them in the process. Reviewer Fridge even commented that one mouthful was so hard it felt like he almost broke his tooth.


The chips had promise and could have been awesome. Beer battered, well seasoned and very tasty - however (like the parma) they were dry and flat as if they had been sitting for a long time. Reviewer Tony said it well, when he said “even though they taste good, its like they cooked a proper chip, then stuck in a tube and sucked all the potato out, leaving just the shell” And I have to agree.

Boring garden salad, lettuce, cucumber, onion and tomato with some creamy dressing. Not terrible, but (once again) wilted and bland.


For only $13 I can’t complain too much, I have seen photos of the Village Belle parma that look nothing like what we received, that leads me to believe they put on the cheap stuff on parma night. If I had’ve paid $20.90 for what we got I would have been a lot crankier, and the parma probably would’ve gone out the window.

It’s hard to deny - The heat lamps killed this parma - Although even without that I can’t see it being any more than mediocre (apart from the chips). Cupid did not strike an arrow through my heart in regards to this parma, And I doubt I’ll be back.

Parma - 3.88
Chips - 5.50
Salad - 3.13
Value - 5.06
Total - 4.29

The search continues…

Village Belle Hotel on Urbanspoon

Attempt #125 - 'Taco Bill'

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When? – 17/1/13

Where? – 353 Keilor Rd, Essendon (also available at Kensington store)

Price? - $21.90

Website? -

Reviewers – Fridge, Lee, Nikki, Stefo[/info]


We now return you to our regularly scheduled programming…
We’re back! And to kick off the 2013 season we are coming straight out of the gate with a bit of a curveball.
Everyone knows Taco Bill, It’s the place where all the people who go to the cricket get those massive sombrero’s (and they also sell Mexican food, I think).
But what you may not know is that a few Taco Bill’s around town have put a very interesting “Mexi-Parma” on their specials board. It has been spotted at two locations that we know of so far (Essendon and Kensington), and if you know of any more that are doing it, let me know on The Facebooks or Tweeter.
Right off the bat I am going to preface this review - This is not a traditional parma. If you are going in expecting your standard schnitzel-cheese-ham-napoli with a side of chips and salad then you are going to be sorely disappointed  but if you are willing to try new things, then you might just find something damn interesting.
We arrived at Taco Bill and scored a great table by the front window. This particular Taco Bill has quite a few options when it comes to seating - there’s the front dining room, a seperate upstairs dining room, and for those warm summer nights there is an outdoor bar/beer garden/dining area out the back…
I started the meal with a Mexican staple - The Margarita -
I went with the ‘Fruit Tingle’ flavour, and good lord was it tasty, pictured is just the standard size, but if you’re in for a big night it’s hard to go past the fishbowl margarita…
The ordering of which ensures both a good night, and a kickass sombrero.
But enough about the drinks, on to the parmage! We placed our orders and sipped on our drinks while we waited, after a rather short wait the plates arrived at our table -
I’d like to re-iterate… non traditional
Okay, where to start. Imagine you have a quality chicken schnitzel in front of you, well crumbed, decent thickness, good size. Tasty, yes? Now imagine opening up a burrito and covering the schnitzel with the contents. Genius? definitely!
The schnitzel was covered in a healthy layer of chili con carne, and topped with plenty of cheese. If you don’t like chili, then this isn’t the parma for you - as chili is definitely the dominant flavour of this dish. Having so much flavour in the topping, it would have been easy for Taco Bill to phone it in with a low quality chicken breast, but not here - the schnitzel was surprisingly good quality.
If I could ask for one addition to the parma, I would say (being a Mexi-parma) it is sorely in need of some sour cream or guacamole to balance out the chili, either on top or on the side, either of those would compliment the dish perfectly and take it to the next level.
Now, in keeping with the non-traditional theme, the standard Chips and Salad are gone, and replaced with sides of Mexican rice and cheesy frijoles (beans), These were a fine side, and although I missed my chippies I think they would have been out of place with this parma - The rice tasted great, as did the frijoles.
Pricing in at $21.90 is perfectly acceptable for what you’re getting, I did not leave Taco Bill hungry after that dish, and I think you’d struggle to find someone who would.
In short, Taco Bill serves up one of the best novelty parmas we have come across, but it is still a novelty parma - You have to be ready for that before you arrive. But if you have an open mind, head down to Taco Bill, order yourself a fishbowl and a parma, and enjoy!
Parma - 7.33
Sides - 6.33
Value - 6.67
Total - 6.80
The search continues…

Taco Bill Mexican Restaurant Essendon on Urbanspoon