Attempt #33 'The Customs House Hotel'

 

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When? - 15th of December, 2010

Where? - 161 Nelson Place. Williamstown

Price? - $15 Parma Wednesday, $21 regularly

Barry? - No

Website? - http://www.customshousehotel.com.au/

Reviewers - Lee, Matt, Nikki[/info]

I love Willy (that is SO what she said). Williamstown is a beautiful spot with some amazing pubs and a great vibe, it’s kind of a hybrid of a beach town and a country town - yet close enough to the City to consider it local. We have been meaning to try a pub in Willy for some time and last night we gave it a go - Originally we had planned to hit up the Steam Packet Hotel but they were unfortunately booked out when I called to make the reservation earlier in the day, we redirected the parma bus around the block to The Customs House Hotel.

First of all, parking is a bitch! situated on the beautiful Williamstown waterfront we did at least 3 laps up and down before settling on a spot a considerable walk away, we entered the Customs House and took our seats at the table - this place is freaking huge! With a front bistro, lounge/bar area with a stage that seems perfect for a two man band to rock out some acoustic cover songs, second dining area out the back and another two massive function areas you’d never be short of a spot to rest your pot glass. We were seated in the front bistro, against the window overlooking the park across the road and the waterfront beyond that. We ordered our Parmas at the counter, not realising table service was also available. The menu laminated to the front counter said the parma was going for $21 with the option of as ‘aussie parma’ for $22, it wasn’t until after we settled the bill that we realised it was Parma Night (seemingly unadvertised) at the Customs house, dropping the meals down to $15 a piece - very reasonable.

Its been awhile since we’ve visited a pub that has had my favourite drink on tap, so imagine my delight when I saw the Bulmers logo shining in the sunlight. Pint in hand, we didn’t have to wait long at all for our meals to arrive

On first glance this parma looked tiny with lots of empty plate staring back at us, there was good topping coverage except for a strange ‘arm’ of chicken breast that was protruding out the side of my schnitzel, but it seems as if that was tucked underneath for the cheesing and only protruded after the parma was plated, so they can be forgiven for that slight showing of nude schnitz. As I said the parma looked small, until I cut into it, this was by far the thickest chicken breast we have experienced, I’ve had chicken kievs that were thinner- it was as if it had barely been hammered down at all and as a result was the most succulent chicken breast I’ve had in a long while. If The Laurel Hotel got a ‘juicy breast’ score of ‘Scarlett Johannson’, The Customs House hotel definitely gets a rating of ‘Katy Perry’ or higher

The crumb/chicken ratio was perfect (with homemade crumbs bringing them home) was a good coverage of napoli, although it was a little bland for my liking, with a heaping of ham and cheese to finish it off. Amazing parma, and for only $15 on a Wednesday its a very wallet-friendly outing.

The Chips were a beer battered chip/wedge hybrid that were absolutely delicious, unfortunately I got shafted and didnt get very many compared to the other reviewers (I counted fourteen total, its not often you can count how many chips you get on the plate) however even though there were few of them, they were all big, and I honestly don’t think I could’ve had many more even if they were on my plate.

The garden salad accompaniment looked amazing and I couldn’t wait to dig in, unfortunately it was all flash and not much substance, fresh and full of variety however the balsamic dressing they used was very light and could hardly be detected on the dish, also, I’m pretty sure I got all of the onions.

In the end I was pretty happy that the Steam Packet was booked out this week as the Customs House Hotel produced an absolutely amazing example of a chicken Parma. If you can I’d recommend hitting it on a Wednesday to get the $15 parma special and if its a nice night be sure to get a seat on the outdoor tables out the front. It is a gorgeous spot, a beautiful pub and a delicious parma - I’d be happy to return any day of the week.

Parma - 8.0
Chips - 6.6
Salad - 6.0
Value - 7.5
Total - 7.23

The search continues …

The Customs House Hotel on Urbanspoon

Attempt #32 -'The Junction Tabaret'

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When? - 9th of December, 2010

Where? - 740 Mt. Alexander Rd. Moonee Ponds

Price? - $12 ‘Parma n Pot’ Thursdays

Barry? - No

Website? - http://www.junctiontabaret.com.au/

Reviewers - Adam, Cale, Dale, Lee, Ness, Nikki, Pat, Sara, Shane, Stefo, Tanya[/info]

Oh no! another late update - castrate me and serve the remains to the dogs … I apologise, but had an absolutely massive weekend and didn’t have a chance to pump out the review. But I’m here now! so lets do this.

We had heard that the Junction did a great pot n’ parma special, and as it is literally just down the road from where the world’s best parma used to reside we figured it was well worth a shot.

We rocked up at the Junction and took our seats - the pub has been beautifully renovated (seemingly) very recently, with a spacious TAB up one end, large pokies room down the other and a thin bistro connecting the two - kind of imagine a ‘shake weight’ with the bistro on the grip, and without the obvious sexual innuendo

With the bistro being so long and thin it seemed a little cramped with not a lot of room for tables - but this may have been because our group of 11 reviewers took up a massive section of the room, but just to be safe if you plan to eat at the Junction I would advise making a booking.

Once the whole crew arrived we went to the bar to place our orders - once we got there we were presented with our ‘parma’s of the world’ menu and had to make a choice

Some interesting choices! I saw a Hawaiian go past and it looked pretty tasty - mayo would definitely be an interesting addition to a parma but unfortunately I’m not big on pineapple. Mexican is always a winner and the Asian parma just sounds weird, after a moment of consideration I decided to play it safe and go with the standard ‘Junction Parmy’ someone needs to tell the writers of this menu that we are in Victoria, not NSW or SA, down here its ParmA, not ParmY.

We ordered, gathered our included pots and headed into the pokies area, put on a ‘club keno’ ticket and used that to pass the time a little until the parmas arrived.

First of all, lets discuss a phenomenon that I haven’t mentioned before. We all know about nude schnitzel, the part of the chicken where no cheese, napoli or ham is sitting leaving exposed chicken schnitzel. The Junction’s parma wouldn’t have had any problems with nude schnitz if it weren’t for the unfortunate effect of what I have dubbed ‘slippery cheese’.

Slippery cheese occurs when a parma is made, stacked on an angle on top of the chips, then let sit under the heat lamps for a few minutes, the cheese gets the full force of the heat lamps and melts again, the napoli under the cheese acts as a lubricant and as the parma is on an angle gravity does the rest. The cheese slides away and what was once a decently dressed piece of schnitzel slowly reveals its shameful nudity, much like Tara Reid on a red carpet

Slippery cheese can easily be avoided in one of two ways - either don’t stack your parma on top of your chips or don’t let the parma sit under the heat lamps! If you are producing quality parmas neither of these would be an issue, but its definitely something to keep an eye out for.

Wow, massive digression.

Another clue that our parma had been victim of heat lamps was that the schnitzel itself wasn’t hot - I am unsure whether this was true of the other end of the table (who got their parmas last) but the first few that arrived came out lukewarm, not inedibly so, but a few more notches on the thermometer would have made a better parma. The schnitzel was small-ish in circumference but thick enough to be enjoyed. There was an abundance of napoli and cheese on the areas that weren’t victims of slippery cheese, but it seemed to harden rather quickly as it got out into the open air, leaving it a bit rubbery by the end of the meal. The ham was there, but not very noticeable, which can be either a good or bad thing depending on your opinion of ham.

The chips were fairly decent, a sprinking of chicken salt gave them a unique taste to what we have tried before - I would comment on the size if their serving but reviewer Pat seagull’ed a lot of them away before I got a chance to take note of the serving size (bastard).

The salad was poor, some wilted lettuce, a wedge of tomato and clumps of onion cut way too thick (and I’m normally pro-onion!) soaked in a very bitter white wine vinegar the salad was not a good accompaniment to the meal.

Opinion was varied on this parma, some rated it well and others rated it poorly - the opinion of the parma definitely seemed to change as we moved down the table so I can only attribute it to the parmas down our end coming out cold and the other end getting the piping hot fresh ones. If dining at the Junction’s ‘Parmas of the world’ night I would suggest getting one of the novelty parmas available to get full value out of your meal, as the plain parma was just that - plain. The price is perfect and for a $12 parma with a free pot I can’t complain too much, but when compared to last weeks attempt at The Albion Hotel ($13 with a pot and pretty darn amazing) it just didn’t quite cut it.

After our meal we headed into the pokies area to play the candy machine in there, pumped in $15 and took home a bag full of candy bars for desert, definite win there.

Parma - 5.5
Chips - 6.2
Salad - 4.3
Value - 7.3
Total - 5.75

The search continues…

Junction Hotel on Urbanspoon

Attempt #30 - 'The Fox Hotel 1887'

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When? - 24th of November, 2010

Where? - 351 Wellington St. Collingwood

Price? - $19

Barry? - No, but tabletop Space Invaders is an acceptable substitute

Website? - http://thefoxhotel.com.au/

Reviewers - Adam, Lee, Rachael, Sara, Stefo[/info]

Sitting on the corner of Wellington St. and Alexandra Pde. The Fox is one of those pubs that you would’ve driven past hundreds of times, but never really ‘noticed’ … if that makes any sense. A cosy, down to earth little pub that is overflowing with character, a staggering collection of tapped and bottled beers and a rooftop beer garden that is absolutely superb! Suggested to us by the guys over at http://thehappiesthour.com/ as one of their favourites, we loaded up the parma bus and headed over to give their parma a try.

On arriving at the Fox you are presented with a number of choices - should you sit in the well tabled front section by the bar?, pull up a pew by the pool table?, maybe take a seat in the dining area? … jeez that lounge area looks mighty cosy … is anyone sitting at the tabletop space invaders table? how about we go up to the rooftop beer garden? With little nooks all over the place, each with a different feel and atmosphere from the eclectic to the classy, its definitely a pub where you could go a number of times and have a different experience each visit. We took a seat on some very hard to get out of couches in the lounge area and ordered some chips to start the night off - got to say that the Fox not only has a stunning range of bottled beers available, but their tab system is amazing, just grab a lanyard when you buy your first drink and you wont have to worry about your wallet till the end of the night. perfect system!

We perused the menu and spotted our target for the night ‘The Fox Parma w’ Prosciutto - $19’ we placed our orders and sank down into the couches while we waited - if we could’ve gotten up there is plenty of stuff to keep you occupied while waiting for food - I have mentioned the space invaders table already, but theres also pinball, pool tables and according to a website I saw while researching this pub - a ‘table tennis room’ … not sure where this one was hiding but definitely a novel idea, and a room that would inevitably become the ‘beer pong room’ after a few hours of drinking.

Not long after our parmas arrived

 

The schnitzel was wide with a massive surface area, taking up a majority of the plate. This is sometimes a recipe for credit card thin chicken but the Fox schnitzel passed the test, not winning any awards on thickness but the crumb to chicken ratio was definitely in the acceptable range, although the crumbs were a little soggy for my liking. A combination of cheeses over the top left a little nude schnitzel on the edges but as the thing was pretty darn wide it can be forgiven for that, on top of the cheese there was a dusting of a spice that I couldn’t quite put my finger on - if I had to take a guess I would say paprika (which is what I will be referring to it as from now on). We made a few comments about how salty the parma tasted before remembering the prosciutto mentioned on the menu, A few loved the taste (myself included) but others weren’t big fans - those not big on spice should be weary that the paprika mixed with the prosciutto makes for a pretty spicy parma - I am all for spice but I also am aware other people aren’t, so make a note of that.

The Chips were chips. under the parma, slightly less than a handful and, in a complete turnaround from the parma, totally unseasoned. Not bad but nothing special.

The salad was a let down unfortunately, standard garden salad it was wilted and oily, more of an afterthought than an accompaniment to the parma.

I also promised to mention that they played Reviewer Stefo’s favourite song while he ate his parma. He enjoyed that.

After the parma we explored around the pub for a little and discovered the rooftop beer garden - a spot that sold me on this pub and ensured I’d be back. looking as if it had recently been remodeled, the rooftop garden was host to a stunning view of the greatest city on earth, as well as plenty of tables and heaters to stay warm on chilly nights. beautiful. We chatted upstairs for a little bit before the rain started to fall and we decided to call it a night.

The Fox’s parma is absolutely delicious, scoring up there with some of the best we have ever had - $19 is a little high on the price scale but I would have no problems paying it again, big, juicy chicken with a bit of flair and spice that sets it apart from the others, unfortunately the sides let down what could have been a truly outstanding meal. I would definitely be back.

Plus, any pub with its own Vespa has got to be good!

Before I give the final scores I have to say that we had a bit of a ‘family meeting’ and have come to the conclusion that our scoring system isn’t quite fair. We all agreed that the chips and salad shouldn’t have equal weight on the final score that the parma does, as the parma is truly the most important part of the meal.

Which means we will be going through some changes here at parmadaze! over the next week or so I will be working out a new equation to punch into my little score calculating spreadsheet which will change the way the scores have been tallied in the past, so watch the ladder over the next week or so as things might get a little reshuffled! I think this will keep things a lot fairer (and also stop a few of the angry emails I’ve been getting)

A prime example of this is this weeks score for The Fox - the parma is outstanding and should carry more weight over the chips and salad, which weren’t great. Under our current score system the score will get dragged down dramatically as the sides weren’t quite up to snuff - which I believe isn’t quite fair as the parma itself was the star of this meal and one I’d definitely go back for.

So for now, (still under the old system) the score for The Fox hotel is -

*EDIT 03/12/10 - Score updated under the new system, as expected brought the score up. the system works!

Parma - 7.4
Chips - 3.8
Salad - 3.0
Value - 6.0
Total - 5.52

The search continues …

The Fox Hotel on Urbanspoon

Attempt #29 - 'The Duke of Kent Hotel'

Google street view saves my arse again! apologies for the sub-par photo guys, it looks a lot nicer than this in person I promise!

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When? - 18th of November, 2010

Where? - 293 La Trobe St. Melbourne

Price? - $12 ‘Parmas of the world’ Wednesdays

Barry? - Yes

Website? - http://www.dofk.com.au/

Reviewers - Lee, Luke, Luke & Matt[/info]

When a friend recommended the Duke of Kent for review I was a little dubious, I have always been weary of inner city pubs and their pub meal offerings - being in the city center there is the immense pressure to cave in to all the wank that comes with being in the inner city, Their heads go up their arses and before you know it you’re paying $30 for a crap parma served with smoked buffalo instead of ham, gluten free soy goop instead of cheese and a bed of whipped chickpeas instead of chips…. apologies for the rant there, I think I have some suppressed childhood trauma regarding wanky parmas.

Which is why I was pleasantly surprised when I walked into the Duke of Kent - A spacious, down to earth pub in which you could completely forget you are sitting in the middle of La Trobe street. The Duke has multiple seating options, from cozy leather booths to the more restaurant style bistro area, and the high wooden tables situated next to massive open bay windows are perfect for warm summer nights. There were a plethora of beers available on tap, a decent looking wine list and a very creative pub trivia game going on the big screen - normally we would join in but it had started before we arrived. We had a smaller group than usual this week as a bunch of the review team were on holiday up in Queensland, so Bulmers in hand we took our seats and looked over our options for ‘Parmas of the world’.

Hmmm what to choose?

To be honest all of the options looked appealing, especially when I saw a Mexican come out of the kitchen that looked delicious (A Mexican parma that is, not an actual delicious looking human from Mexico). But even with all the options presented to us we opted for the standard parma, which strangely doesn’t appear on the menu pictured above.

There is plenty to do at the Duke while waiting for your meal, The pub trivia game I mentioned earlier was fun to watch, as well as pool tables, full TAB, a skill testing prize machine and of course Barry, to which we were seated beside - primo seating if I’ve ever seen it!

The above photo is a perfect indicator of how close we were to the Barry machine, as I took it from my chair as reviewer Nikki (who came for the Barry but no parma this week) played a game of Monopoly. If you look carefully you will notice that its a Superman themed question on the screen - we probably had three superman themed questions while playing, quite fitting I thought seeing as we were eating at the Duke of Kent.

He looks hungry, if I were you I’d give it to him

Moments after we ordered Reviewer Luke arrived and joined our table - having ordered for him minutes before he didn’t realise that there were different parmas available, he tried to change the order to a Texan BBQ parma but was too late -our parmas were (amazingly) almost ready. Very soon after that our meals arrived.

It looked good when it hit the table, apart from a slight burning around the edges on mine (lesser on the others) the chicken was well cooked with golden brown cheese. The schnitzel itself looked a bit small but the majority of it was thick chicken breast, although there were a few spots on it that shrunk down to thin territory. Good brown cheese and napoli coverage with a healthy dose of shredded ham hiding under the cheese, which while looking like a lot of ham complimented the chicken nicely and didn’t even come close to overpowering it.

The chips were standard, hiding under the parma soggied (it is too a word) them up a little, but they were perfectly acceptable, however not memorable.

The Garden salad consisted of lettuce, onion, cucumber and tomato, It had a balsamic dressing but was unfortunately killed by too much olive oil on the lettuce, nothing terrible but turned a decent salad into an ‘only okay’ one. One redeeming factor to the sides, however, was the massive bread roll which accompanied every parma - a fantastic addition that is often overlooked by pubs but makes all the difference when it comes to the presentation of the meal. points for bread.

Reviewer Luke was still hungry after his (and still a little shattered that he missed out on his Texan BBQ parma) so he ordered a second, Texan BBQ this time, which arrived in about 3 minutes flat - amazingly quick service

As he treated himself to a double parma, Reviewer Luke gave his score twice - however his score was the same for both meals

All in all it was a pretty darn good example of a parma, and at only $12 on a parma Wednesday its hard to go wrong.

From what I could gather The Duke of Kent is all about the food specials - It was hard to nail down the price of the parma as it fluctuates Daily, but from what Icould gather it goes a little like this: Monday - Thursday is a $15 Parma, However on Mondays it is still $15 but it comes with a free pot and on Wednesdays it is $12 with no pot, but you get a choice of the ‘Parmas of the World’ topping. All other times (so Friday - Sunday) its $19.90. Oh and on Tuesdays its burger n’ pot night for $15 - nothing to do with Parmas, but definitely worth mentioning. I hope you followed all that, It may require re-reading.

Parma - 7.1
Chips - 5.5
Salad - 4.3
Value - 7.4
Total - 6.28

The search continues …

Duke of Kent Hotel on Urbanspoon

Finally I want to say a big thanks to the guys over at Melbournepubs.com for their support over the last week, It’s greatly appreciated and anyone who reads this should head over to their site to find the biggest and best database of Melbourne nightlife on the Internet!

Attempt #28 - 'O'Sullivans Sibeen'

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When? - 3rd of November, 2010

Where? - 914 Mt. Alexander Rd. Essendon.

Price? - $18.90

Barry? - Yes

Website? - http://www.osullivansirishpub.com.au/

Reviewers - Bec, Kathleen, Lee, Luke, Matt, Nikki, Pat, Sara[/info]

We must seem like gluttons for punishment (or just gluttons in general, having a parma every week), but we have attempted another Irish pub - regular readers will know that Irish pubs have a track record of being not so excellent when it comes to their chicken parmigiana offerings, but when we heard that O’Sullivans Sibeen (or ‘O’sullies’ to the locals) were offering a triple-stack parma for only $20 it definitely piqued our interest.

We took our table in the downstairs bar - There is a restaurant upstairs that offers table service, but for the sake of this review we took the downstairs option, seated in a cosy little nook off the main area with plenty of Irish charm. Unfortunately the triple parma stack we had heard of was only an occasional special and not available on the night we were there - we went for the standardparma ($18.90, $13 on thursdays) instead.

After ordering we put some change into Barry and Buck Hunter to pass the time, before too long our parmas arrived.

The schnitzel was big enough - I was worried about over-crumbing to hide a thin piece of chicken at first but it held up pretty well, there was some minor nude-schnitzel issues on a few of the parmas served, but some faired better than others. Cheese, napoli and ham were all very tasty, The crumbs were processed but still carried the flavor quite well. All in all it faired as one of the better parma offerings we have had at an Irish pub, Although the bar isn’t set very high!

The chips were fantastic - beer battered plank chips salted just right, crispy and delicious, unfortunately the serving was minimal, I would’ve killed for some more, so much so I considered ordering a second bowl.

The salad was a standard garden salad, totally passable but with one fatal flaw, for some reason they had put lemon juice on it, which just destroyed its flavour - I’m not sure if the lemon juice was meant for the salad, the schnitzel or the chips but everything on the plate had a lemon juice taste to it that overpowered the rest of the dish. It wasn’t as noticeable on the parma or the chips, but the salad definitely suffered from it.

An after parma game of Barry is a must, we picked up enough on Barry for a couple of pints of Bulmers before parting ways until our next meeting. 

As far as Irish pubs go O’sullies does well, but as I said before the bar for Irish pubs isn’t set very high (none of our Irish pub reviews have rated higher than a 5.9). It’s a tasty parma that would score well if we went there on a Thursday ($13 parma night).

I was just a little soured by all the lemon juice *badum ching*

Parma - 5.4
Chips - 7.3
Salad - 3.4
Value - 5.4
Total - 5.4

The search continues …

O'Sullivan's Sibeen Irish Bar and Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Attempt #27 -'Crooners'

 

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When? - 20th of October, 2010

Where? - 43-49 Lygon St. East Brunswick

Price? - $19.50

Barry? - No

Website? - http://www.crooners.com.au/

Reviewers - Adam, Lee, Matt, Pat, Stefo[/info]

** NOTE - This pub has closed! Parma no longer available - Review will stay up for posterity. Enjoy!

It’s not often I venture up this end of Lygon St. but I was pleasantly surprised by the great range of restaurants and watering holes in the area - Definitely a spot I want to revisit at some point

We arrived at Crooners and got our table, a considerably smaller review group than what we had in the past but good none the less.

Crooners is more of a lounge bar than a pub - I had been there many years before, when it was a ‘rat pack’ inspired and themed establishment (hence the name ‘Crooners’) unfortunately it seems to have lost that theme at some point since I last visited, as the only thing I could see that remains rat pack-esque is the name.

I had read online that Crooners offered a Wednesday cheap parma night - unfortunately that wasn’t the case and we were charged the full price of $19.50 for our chicken, I was absolutely starving by the time we ordered and luckily they wasted no time getting our Parmigianas out to us.

Its kind of hard to tell by the photo, but the Crooners parma is actually two chicken schnitzels, fuzed together by a more than generous helping of cheese. The schnitzels were a little on the thin side but as there were two of them they can definitely be forgiven, Slice of ham was absent but this was a totally G rated affair, with no nude schnitzel at all - Crooners is a very cheesy parma, whether that is a pro or a con to really comes down to personal preference - but all in all it was a tasty piece of chicken

The chips were eclipsed under the parma, which unfortunately left them in soggytown by the time I ate my way through to them, standard shoestring fries again - nothing to write home about.

The salad was a well proportioned garden salad of lettuce, onion, cucumber and a single slice of tomato with a very nice tasting cream dressing which complimented the salad and the parma well - points for that.

All in all Crooners parma was pretty good - It’s worth noting that they are open till 3am on weekends, perfect if you get a late night hankering for some parmage on the way home from a night on the town. They have a decent wine list and a great range of local, premium and imported beers. The schnitzel was very thin, which normally would be a dealbreaker but as they were kind enough to provide two schnitzels they redeemed themselves on that front. $19.50 is a little up there in terms of price but I certainly didn’t leave hungry.

After the Parma we headed up the road a few hundred meters to ‘The Quarry’ a pub that had Pinball, Pool Tables and Buck Hunter to finish off our night.

Parma - 7.2
Chips - 3.6
Salad - 4.6
Value - 5.6
Total - 5.64

The search continues…

Crooners on Urbanspoon

Attempt #26 - 'The Terminus Hotel'

 

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When? - 13th of October, 2010

Where? - 492 Queens Parade. Clifton Hill

Price? - $19.9, with a Tuesday $12 Parma n’ Trivia night

Barry? - No

Website? - http://www.terminus.com.au/

Reviewers - Adam, Cale, Lee, Maz, Ness, Pat, Shanan, Stefo, Tanya[/info]

From the moment I pulled up out the front of the Terminus Hotel, I knew I was going to like it - the massive ‘Mountain Goat’ beer sign hanging over the door was proof enough it was a pub for me - The front bar was busy and bustling with people, some loyal regulars and others obviously just popped in for an after work pint. With an abundance of big wooden tables, sport on the big screen and a cosy lounge area to the side it’s definitely a pub I’d be proud to call my local, if they had a fireplace it would have been perfect.

When our group arrived we moved into the dining room around the back of the pub - A totally different, yet still very good experience that offered full table service and the lovely touch of chilled water bottles and complimentary bread with a bowl of oil & balsamic vinegar - something you dont often see in a pub setting.

We ordered our meals and a couple of jugs (The bartender recommended ’Moo Brew Pale Ale’ and we weren’t disappointed, a fantastic, flavourful beer that I’d definitely have again).

After a short wait, our parmas arrived - All but one, Reviewer Shanan missed out in the first round and we believe they had to quickly run out and rustle up another parma, but when his arrived it was fresh, hot and with a great coverage of golden brown cheese.

When it first landed on the table I was a tad disappointed, it looked small. There was a great heaping of salad on one side and the chips (although shoestring fries) were in abundance, which divided the plate almost perfectly into thirds, creating a veritable pie chart of parma, salad and fries - I took an aerial photo to further illustrate my point

Parma pie chart!

My fears of a small parma were soon allayed as soon as I cut into it, it was thick and juicy, pure chicken breast, not over-crumbed and perfectly cooked. There was a little bit of nude schnitzel around the edges of mine, but that didn’t appear on all of them. The most notable thing about the Terminus’ parma was the napoli sauce - it was fresh, tasty and obviously home made, it had a sweetness to it that I couldn’t quite put my finger on until reviewer Tanya picked it as capsicum, a welcome addition to the napoli sauce in my opinion. There was no ham, however I wouldn’t call that a negative in this case, the napoli sauce gave the chicken a great flavour that I don’t believe the addition of ham would have complimented. The cheese was golden brown, if only there was a bit more around the edges I would have trouble faulting this parma.

The fries were shoestring fries that looked as if they’d come straight off a large Big Mac meal - Now I’ve got nothing against shoestring fries and I actually found them well seasoned and rather enjoyable - but not every member of the review team felt the same, especially when we noticed that the steaks and other meals going past had hand cut chips that looked absolutely amazing - if they had’ve been beside the parma instead of the steak it would have been perfect, and we didn’t get why those chips weren’t in accompaniment.

The salad was cause for much debate, there was a lot of it, which is always a plus, it was a simple garden salad, yet some people felt it crossed the line into too simple. It was made up of rocket lettuce and very thinly sliced radish tossed through some olive oil. I thought it was simple and elegant but other reviewers found it bland and tasteless, even resorting to pouring the balsamic oil that was supplied with the bread over the salad to give it some flavour.

At $19.90 it was an outstanding parma - They advertise a $12 parma n trivia night in the front bar on Tuesday nights which would be fantastic (although word is they don’t take reservations, so you’d better get in early to secure a table). I honestly have trouble faulting the parma itself, The Terminus is a perfect example of how it should be done, however they let themselves down on the sides. If they spruce up the salad a little and give us the hand cut chips instead of shoestring fries and the Terminus would be in the running for the best chicken parmigiana in Melbourne.

We finished up at the Terminus and on the way home a few of us stopped in to Bridie’s for a pint of Bulmers and a game of Barry, we found a new game called ‘Monkey Business’ which kept us occupied for the better part of an hour.

Awesome game, I suggest you check it out! one of the few games on Barry that isn’t trivia based in which you actually have a chance to win some cash.

But I digress …

Parma - 8.4
Chips - 5.8
Salad - 5.8
Value -  6.9
Total - 7.08

The search continues …

Terminus Hotel on Urbanspoon

 

Attempt #25 - 'Westmeadows Tavern'

 

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When? - 7th of October, 2010

Where? - 10 Ardlie St. West Meadows

Price? - $22 (with a $12 Parma Night on Mondays & $12 Parma lunch special daily)

Barry? - No

Website? - http://www.westmeadowstavern.com.au/

Reviewers - Adam Y, Glen, Lee, Nikki, Pat, Stefo, Tanya[/info]

This was not supposed to be a review about the Westmeadows Tavern. Our original plan was to do a review of the Irish pub known as P.J. O’Briens, located within the Melbourne Airport. We loaded up the parma bus and headed down, only to discover that the place was absolutely packed and there were no seats available, I normally call ahead and book our visits, but when I tried to call yesterday the number they had listed on their website was not the number for P.J’s, and thus no booking was made.

So standing in the middle of the airport, out front of a pub that wouldn’t take us, we decided to abandon P.J’s and go to the next closest pub we could think of, The Westmeadows Tavern (or ‘the Westy pub’ to locals).

Luckily for us, tables were in abundance at the Westy, we took our seats the bistro of a surprisingly large building (reminiscent of the Keilor Hotel) and ordered our Parmas.

Now this little snafoo with P.J’s had put us well and truly behind our usual schedule - We were all absolutely starving and our extreme hunger might have made it seem like the parma took longer to arrive than it actually did - but we were salivating by the time the chicken hit the table

With little hesitation, we dug in. The schnitzel was quality chicken kind of small and a little on the thin side of things (not terrible, but not great … I should start bringing a ruler to reviews so I give you an accurate measurement). If you like saucy parmas, then this one is for you, a ridiculous amount of napoli was dropped in the center, under a heap of cheese and on top of a tasty slice of ham - unfortunately even though there was a lot of it, they neglected to spread it all the way to the edge, leaving a fair bit of full frontally nude schnitzel, and caused some blackening of the edges.

The chips were minimal, but tasty - like the parma they were a little on the overcooked side. Completely unseasoned but with salt shakers on the table, I would’ve been happier with them if I had an extra handful - Reviewer Nikki had the extra handful I desired, however her parma was about an inch or so smaller than everyone else’s, not sure which of those trade off’s I would prefer.

I’ve never seen a salad with such an identity crisis, There was so many different ingredients packed into that little bowl I couldn’t decipher what it was trying to be! It contained -

  • Lettuce (two kinds)
  • Onion (lots of onion)
  • Cucumber
  • Tomato
  • Olives
  • Orange slices
  • Cream dressing

It was like the bastard lovechild of an Italian salad and a garden salad, That being said it was pretty tasty, although way too much onion, I was picking it out of the salad throughout the meal and eating it with the chicken just to tone down the overdose of onion in the salad itself … no kisses for me tonight!

The Westy parma was okay - I definitely left satisfied but nothing to write home about, unfortunately clocking in at $22.00 its very pricey for what you are getting, which brought its ‘value’ score down a fair whack. Apparently on Monday nights they offer a $12 parma night, with the option of Hawaiian, Mexican or Meatlovers varieties - Definitely something I would check out if I were in the area on a Monday night. I hope to one day try the P.J’s parma we intended to, but It will take awhile to get over the trauma of our first turn-away.

Parma - 6.3
Chips - 5.9
Salad - 4.3
Value - 4.3
Total - 5.41

The search continues…

Westmeadows Tavern on Urbanspoon

I just want to quickly point out that this attempt marks our 25th Official attempt to find the perfect parma. I know its only a small milestone but I just want to send out a big thanks to everyone who makes Parmadaze possible!

To the followers - Keep up the awesome work, I never thought we would ever get so many regular readers, I hope you enjoy my ramblings about a piece of chicken and be sure to keep reading!

To the Pubs - Thanks for putting up with us, keep up the awesome work and keep striving for that perfect Parma

And finally to the Parmadaze review team! I couldn’t do it without you guys, Thanks for giving up your Wednesday nights to come and eat some schnitzel and give your opinion. Here’s to another 25 parmas! (And many, many more!)

Attempt #24 - 'The Union'

image [info]

When? - 22nd of September, 2010

Where? - 252 Union Rd. Ascot Vale

Price? - $19.50

Barry? - Yes

Website? - http://www.unionhotel252.com.au/

Reviewers - Adam Y, Bec, Cale, Emma, Grace, Kathleen, Lee, Luke, Maz, Nikki, Pat, Stefo, Tony Q, Wade[/info]

We viisited The Union again in April 2013 - Check out the re-review here after you’ve finished with this one.

The Union holds a special place in my heart, as it my Dad’s watering hole when I was a kid. I remember my Mum sitting out in the car while she sent me in to drag him out after he had some post-work drinks with his mates. His claim of ‘I’ll just finish this pot’ was made every week, then after he finished I’d see him sneakily order another one so he could spend more time with his buddies while my Mum got more and more angry waiting for him in the car. It was the first pub I can really remember being in, and the smell of spilt booze and cigarette smoke filling the place is something I can still remember to this day.

Fast forward about 15 years and I’m walking up those stairs again, this time to review the Union’s Chicken Parma. The bistro is virtually unrecognizable, totally renovated with a massive outdoor dining area, cosy lounge area and bistro bustling with patrons.

we had a table for ten booked, but when 14 reviewers rocked up we had to move out into the beer garden. I was worried it was going to be freezing but to my surprise the industrial strength heater they have mounted on the wall was more than enough to keep us warm … it even bordered on getting too hot at times.

Drink selection was standard, they had Bulmers cider on tap, my personal favourite, which has pretty much become standard at Melbourne pubs, a fact I couldn’t be happier about. They even offered me a glass of ice on the side when I ordered a pot. Perfect! This is how Bulmers should be served and the only thing that is annoying about how readily available it is getting is that its very rare to find a place that know how to serve it correctly.

We ordered our parmas and took our seats - there was a game of poker going on in the middle of the beer garden which threw me, but it was fun to see something different going on and gave us something to watch while we waited.

Parmas took a little while to come out, but thats understandable seeing as we ordered 14 of the things - they all came out pretty much simultaneously, and a bunch of hungry parma-goers tucked in.

image

First of all it was great quality chicken, pure chicken breast, thick and juicy, with a great chip/crumb ratio - the crumbs were a little soggy but thats nothing to really complain about. But there was something wrong with the parma that nobody could quite put their finger on, something either in the cheese, the ham or the napoli tasted, for lack of a better term, ‘funky’. I tried each ingredient separately trying to pinpoint what the culprit was - the cheese tasted fine, the napoli tasted fine, my prime suspect would be the ham - it was the circular, processed ham you get in packs at the supermarket, from what we could tell something about it just wasn’t right and it put a funky taste all through the parma itself. Not a parma killer though - there was a great coverage of toppings with very little nude schnitzel.

The chips were minimal, totally eclipsed by the parma it was rare to find one that hadn’t been smooshed by chicken, they were soggy but not terrible, if there was a bigger serving they would’ve passed muster.

If I had to describe the salad in one word, that word would be ‘Onion’ there was a lot of onion in the salad, mine (in the photo above) actually had a small amount of onion through it compared to some of the other plates. I love onion in my salad, and I love onion on my parma itself (a lot of the time i will take the onion out of the salad and put it on the parma … delicious!) but thirteen other people at the table weren’t as onion mad as I am. Other than that it was a big serving of salad, with shredded carrot, tomato, lettuce, some plates had cucumber and some didn’t, and a splash of balsamic. A little more balsamic and it would’ve scored higher, all the dressing was gone by two fork-fulls in and by the end it was bland and dry.

After our meal we left the bistro and walked around to the sports bar for a post parma pot and game of Barry, where we were dubbed ‘The Untouchables’ for some reason by the locals … interesting.

$19.50 is up there on the parma-price scale, especially without a pot. Apparently the Union does a ‘Parma & Burger night’ on Tuesday nights, with ‘True blue trivia’ and a parma for $12, it definitely would’ve scored higher if that special was on a Wednesday night but unfortunately we missed it by a day, however thats definitely something to keep in mind.

Parma - 5.3
Chips - 5.7
Salad - 3.8
Value - 4.2
Total - 4.84

The search continues…

Union Hotel on Urbanspoon

Be sure to tune in next week for a very special attempt! Cheers, and i’ll see you then!

Attempt #23 - 'The Royal Mail'

 

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When? - 15th of September, 2010

Where? - 519 Spencer St, West Melbourne

Price? - $19.50

Barry? - No

Website? - http://www.theroyalmail.com.au/

Reviewers - Adam, Johnno, Lee, Mel, Nikki, Shanan, Tanya, Tony Q[/info]

 

As most beer drinkers would know, underneath the caps on Carlton Draught stubbies is a trivia question, usually about sports or science or geography, just a little fun fact to make the day a bit more enjoyable. During a drinking session last saturday I de-capped my stubbie of Carlton to find the following question -

It was a sign from the lord, he saw our quest and it was good. I had a feeling that because of this lucky cap (which I carried in my pocket all week so I wouldn’t lose it) that this weeks parma was gonna be a ripper - perhaps the perfect parma? Our quest is now a divine one, lets see if the lord is on our side in this weeks attempt - The Royal Mail.

I Honestly can’t remember how the Royal Mail appeared on our radar, its not in our ‘to be tried’ list, its not in my inbox of suggestions people sent me, it just happened. We loaded up the Parma Bus™, headed to Spencer st. and the Royal Mail.

Parking was a breeze, we normally have trouble finding a spot on Wednesday nights but with an abundance of metered car spots in surrounding streets it was a non-issue (especially since the meters in the area only run until 6.30pm).

We went into the pub-side of the Royal Mail first, for a game of pool and to wait for the rest of the team to arrive. It amazed me the contrast between the two sides of the building, the Pub side was a down to earth Aussie Pub, with Pool table, jukebox, cold beer and pub meals - heaps of character and friendly bar staff made this a great spot I’d definitely come back to for a pot (awesome side note, If you are reading this review before Grand Final Day ‘10, The Royal Mail runs a Grand Final day special that offers free beer between the first bounce of the game, and the first goal kicked. epic deal and I’m definitely considering popping in.)

Our team had pretty much arrived so we headed around the bar to the restaurant and were greeted with a beautifully renovated gastro-pub, with leather couches, big, solid wooden tables and a full body portrait of Kamahl - something every pub needs.

Amazing contrast between down to earth bar on one side of the wall, and gastro-pub on the other

We took our seat and ordered our parmas - $19.50 is a bit up there on the price scale but I definitely don’t mind paying it if its a quality parma. I couldn’t see any mention of a discount parma night running, although Wednesday night is known as ‘Roadkill Wednesdays’ at the Royal Mail, with dishes on the menu such as an Emu Burger, Camel Sausages, Kangaroo Meatloaf, Possum Stew or Ostrich Pudding, not for the faint of heart but something I’d definitely come back to try

After a short wait our parma’s marched out of the kitchen -

One of the waitresses saw me taking the above photo and cottoned on to the fact we were giving it a review, so she gave me a rundown of what goes into it. All the chicken breasts are crumbed in house, with smoked ham, home made napoli and tasty cheese with parmesan. It looked great so we tucked in.

The schnitzel itself was superb, a little on the small size but thick and juicy, pure succulent chicken breast all the way through. There was a bit of nude schnitzel on the edge of mine but mostly I got a good covering of cheese. The smoked ham was tasty and not too overpowing (some parmas that use smoked ham can suffer from an overly smoky taste, but this was good and didn’t suffer from that) The cheese was nice, a little overcooked and burnt in some areas but no real drama.

Now I’ve left the biggest point of debate about the parma itself until last - the Napoli, As the waitress told us, they use a homemade napoli (and I’ve read online that they use Paprika in it as their secret ingredient, although that is unconfirmed). I enjoyed the napoli, it definitely had a different taste to other parmas - my best description would be a combination of napoli and barbecue sauce. The review table was pretty much split, some loved it and others hated it. It comes down personal choice I suppose, it might be nice to have the option of regular or ‘Royal Mail’ napoli when ordering, but all in all it was a great quality parma.

The chips were hand cut, beer battered and set to the side of the parma - delicious, My only complaint is that there just weren’t enough of them, an extra handful and they would’ve been looking at a 9 for score I reckon.

The salad was fresh, but a bit of an afterthought - a fairly small basic garden salad with lettuce, onion, tomato, cucumber & a splash of balsamic. Although I did like the care that was taken with the preparation of the cucumber, the seeds were cut out of the cucumber slices leaving little ‘C’ shapes of cucumber through the salad. C for cucumber. Ha!

A lot of care is taken in the production of this parma and it shows. A little pricey for what you are getting but I was definitely happy to pay it. The major downfall of this parma would be the home made napoli that was just a little too different for some reviewers (you don’t need to mess with a classic!) but if you like barbecue sauce, this is definitely a parma for you. See you on Grand Final Day!

Parma - 6.9
Chips - 7.2
Salad - 5.4
Value - 6.5
Total - 6.51

The search continues …

Royal Mail Hotel on Urbanspoon

Attempt #22 - 'Sam's Café'

Google street view saves me again. I’ve really gotta start getting to these places in daylight hours so I can take my own photo!

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When? - 8th of September, 2010

Where? - 1/344 Keilor Rd, Niddrie

Price? - ‘Parma O’clock’ Tuesday & Wednesday nights, whatever time it is, thats how much the parma costs. Other times, $17.90

Barry? - No

Website? - None

Reviewers - Bec, Brendan, Cale, Emma, Lee, Luke, Matt, Ness, Nikki, Tanya, Tony Q, Tony S[/info]

Bending an unspoken rule a little in this weeks review, at Parma Daze we more often than not go to Melbournes pubs to try and find the perfect chicken parma - this week however, we have gone for a café. Purely for their ‘Parma O’clock’ pricing gimmick and recommendation from a couple of friends.

Sams Café, hidden down the Niddrie end of Keilor rd always has a different variety of specials and deals to get you in the door, Tuesday and Wednesday are no exception, as they offer ‘Parma O’clock’ nights, at which the price of the parma you order is dictated by the time at which you order it eg. if you order at 7:00, the parma will be $7.00. if you order at 8:00, the parma will be $8. got it? good. The deal runs from 6pm to 9pm, so dont get any crazy ideas about going in at one in the afternoon and getting a parma for $1.

If we sold Parma Daze merch I would SO sell this clock. just sayin.

We arrived at Sam’s just after seven and were directed to our table … time was of the essence here as every minute we waited would cost us precious cents of the cost of our parma. But Sam’s are a devious bunch, We were given such a diverse variety of novelty parma choices it took a good few minutes for everyone to decide what they wanted!

I wasn’t prepared to write down every variety of parma they had, So I swiped the menu and scanned it (Im sorry Sam’s! I hope you can forgive my thievery). See below for the complete listing, be sure to take note of the additional charge per variety.

Parma with Banana chunks and Kahlua? hmmmmm

Nobody was brave enough to order anything too outlandish, In the end most people got a standard parma, about three went with the Californian, one went with Le Spinach, another with the Waltzing Matilda and one more went with Meat Lovers (because he, quote “Loves meat on meat action”)

Our orders went in at about 20 past 7, so the cost was $7.20 each (not including extras on the novelty parmas).

It’s hard to judge Sam’s alongside our other reviews, being a café there was none of the usual entertainment options we are accustomed to, no Barry, pool, jukebox or pokies to whittle the time away, so we had to resort to *shudder* conversation to pass the time (what fresh hell is this?!)

After a short wait our parma’s arrived - with the exception of Lukes Waltzing Matilda, which we watched sit under the heat lamps for a good five minutes after everyone else was served waiting for someone to bring it to our table, That is pure torture for a hungry parma goer!

My Regular parma, I didn’t get a photo of every variety, but I managed to get a shot of my neighbours Californian before he tucked in, see below.

Dream of Californicationnnn

The Schnitzel was big, covering a lot of the plate (and everything else on it) some people got two schnitzels crammed into one. mine was big and even curled around on itself in some places, making it seem like I had a double parma in some spots. No slice of ham to speak of and lots of nude schnitzel, but the chicken was thick enough with a tolerable crumb/chicken ratio. In my opinion it could’ve used more cheese and napoli, or some sort of spicing. Although it was a big parma, it was rather nothingness when it came to taste. Very bland and the fact it was only luke-warm when it was served didn’t help matters.

The Chips were McDonalds style fries, The serving differed from plate to plate and I think I did pretty well from the draw, the ones on the outer edge were crispy and salted well but their major failing was the size of the parma sitting on top totally killed them. By the time I got to the remainders in the middle they were practically soggy mush.

The salad was basically an afterthought, like the chips the size of the portion varied from plate to plate and this time I definitely got the short end of the stick. A couple of rocket leaves, a single slice of tomato, a single piece of onion, a slice of cucumber splashed with some balsamic. everything looked wilted and unappetising.

For the price of this parma you can’t really complain though, I left with a full stomach and a smile on my face. at only $7.20 it gets points for Value and the whole ‘Parma o’clock’ gimmick definitely adds to the fun of the meal. If I went back I would definitey try one of the novelty ones, maybe the meatlovers or the Parmarama, something to give it a little more taste - The regular was just a little too bland for my liking

Its amazing the wide array of scores this parma got, I don’t think we’ve ever had the group so divided on the score lines, be sure to check out the full run down in the link below the final score to see who scored what, and what variety of parma they ordered.

I have one request before I wrap this up, if anyone ever goes to Sam’s and orders the ‘Go Bananas Parma’ with Bananas and Kahlua, Take a photo for us and email through your thoughts. I Can’t imagine it possibly being good, but like the ‘Deep Fried Oreos’ I had in America, I’ve been fooled before.

Parma - 5.17
Chips - 5.7
Salad - 3.9
Value - 7.4
Total - 5.48

The search continues …

Sam's Cafe on Urbanspoon

 

Attempt #21 - 'The Donnybrook Hotel'

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When? - 1st of September, 2010

Where? - 825 Donnybrook Rd, Donnybrook

Price? - $18.90, $12 ‘Parma Night’ on Mondays

Barry? - No, but EVERYTHING else!

Website? - None

Reviewers - Adam Y, Bec, Lee, Luke, Nikki, Shanan, Tony Q[/info]

 

I have often started a parma review saying that the place we were reviewing that week was ‘like a country pub’, Well this week we went to a real country pub - The Donnybrook Hotel.

Now I’m unsure as to whether it is the Donnybrook Hotel, or the Donnybrook Springs Hotel, Google seems to think its the Donnybrook springs, but I couldn’t see the word ‘springs’ anywhere on the exterior, either way, we hopped in the parma bus and drove the relatively quick 40k’s from Northern Melbourne, where the majority of the review team reside (took about half an hour, quick sticks!)

As soon as we arrived at the Donnybrook I realised one thing straight away - we should’ve come on Monday, a quick look at the menu showed that Monday night was their parma night, $12 and nine different varieties of novelty parma (Including ‘Volcano’, ‘Seafood’, ‘Bolognese’, a few more I can’t remember and the ‘Double Decker’ for $20) definitely worth a look.

We ordered our parmas at the regular price of $18.90 and grabbed some drinks, as this is a true blue country pub there isn’t a huge selection of beers available, but they had the basics and thats all that we needed! There was no Barry at this pub but it wasn’t missed as the range of things there to keep one entertained whilst the parma is being created is phenomenal, from what I saw there was -

  • Candy/Claw machine
  • Pinball
  • Pool
  • Mr Cashman (Last seen at the Mona Castle Hotel)
  • Paper ticket machine (Last seen at The Rose Hotel)
  • Digital Jukebox
  • One of those machines where you put in $2 and get a little toy

Mr. Cashman is a favourite of ours, so we played that for awhile, won a few bucks which we promptly put back into the Candy machine and won our desert.

Before our parma arrived our entree of communal garlic bread and bowl of chips arrived, the chips were fresh and crispy and the garlic bread was delicious (who doesn’t love a good slice of GB), but the communal bowl of chips brought up an interesting discussion on putting condiments on communal chips.

Not long after the entree’s were polished off, the main course arrived -

Nom Nom friggin’ Nom! This parma looked amazing when it arrived, points for presentation Donnybrook! The schnitzel was of a decent size, real chicken breast and acceptable thickness (not massive, but pretty good). The crumbs were processed and a little thick for my taste, but they weren’t off-putting at all and complimented the chicken very well, the obligatory slice of ham was absent from the donny parma, but there was a generous coating of a napoli and a very sharp tasty cheese, it was well cooked with some very attractive green bits sprinkled on top (as you can see)

You can’t quite tell from the above photo, but I got a massive serving of chips on my parma, I can’t really fault them for stacking the parma on top as there was simply nowhere else for them to go. Other reviewers at the table didn’t quite get the generous serving that I did (pfff, who cares about them anyway) but the chips were fresh and crispy, they were unseasoned, however there were salt shakers on the table and tomato sauce readily available.

The salad was presented amazingly (as you can kind of see) each parmigiana’s salad was served inside a lettuce leaf, with capsicum, carrot, cucumber, tomato, onion, lettuce and (a true sign of a country pub) an orange slice on top. As far as garden salads go, this one is the prettiest i’ve seen in a long time, Unfortunately there wasn’t much in the way of dressing and while looking amazing, fell short a little in terms of flavour.

We promptly polished off our parmas, then we noticed the kids at other tables drawing on the butcher paper laid out on every table, I won’t go into detail, and they say a picture is worth a thousand words, but when we left the table looked something like this …

The Donnybrook is a great little pub, very busy so be sure to book in advance! There was a roaring open fire to warm up on and flat screen TV’s around the dining area to entertain while eating, There was lots of discussion on the drive home about it and the general consensus was it was a damn nice parma! I’m a little shattered that we didn’t come down on mondays parma night as one of the novelty parmas listed on the menu wouldve gone down a treat - I’d especially like to give the Double Decker a try, seeing as at $20 its only a dollar less than what they charge for the weekday parma.

On the way out I put $2 into the toy redemption machine and picked up this little ball of awesome …

Thats Marvin the friggin’ Martian!!!

Going rural was good, and we are gonna try and occasionally hit up more country Victoria pubs, so stay tuned for that in the future, although next weeks will be closer to home… so keep an eye out Melbourne restaurants, you never know when and where we might turn up!

Parma - 7.1
Chips - 6.7
Salad - 6.1
Value - 6.4
Total - 6.69

The search continues …

Donnybrook Hotel on Urbanspoon

Attempt #20 - 'The Queensberry Hotel'

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When? - 25th of August, 2010

Where? - 593 Swanston St. Carlton

Price? - $15 for standard parma, $16 for novelty parma

Barry? - No

Website? - http://www.queensberryhotel.com.au

Reviewers - Lee, Luke, Nikki, Shanan, Tony[/info]

We came across The Queensberry Hotel just before last weeks review of Pugg Mahones. A few of the reviewers stopped into the pub for some pre-drinks before heading up the road to Puggs for the weeks review, and noticed the very appetising looking menu of parma varieties, the delicious looking parmas and the tantalising drink specials! A tick in every box in theory, so we decided to hit it up the following week to see what was on offer at the Queensberry Hotel.

The Queensberry is a great pub, just outside the CBD its definitely one for the Uni students in the area, with some amazing specials if you carry a valid Uni card, such as:

  • $10 Parmas
  • $10 Cheeseburgers
  • $5 Pints of Carlton
  • $10 Jugs of Carlton
  • $5 Basic Spirits
  • $4 House Wine
  • $8 Jäger bombs

Available all day, every day - thats a damn good deal in my book! Unfortunately only a couple parma reviewers there that week carried a uni card, so we didn’t get to take advantage of the cheap parma’s, but we did get a couple of $10 jugs out of the deal - delicious!

The pub is well laid out, An open front bar area has a plethora of tables and stools available, as well as a great atmosphere set by about a hundred tea light candles scattered all over the place, walk around the side of the bar through a cosy little lounge area with leather couches, past that is a great looking beer garden with lots of heaters for those chilly nights and past that is the bistro, where we found the below note on our reserved table and took our seats.

I thought the note was a nice little touch that got the evening off to a good start, Myself and my happy little human friends sat down and perused the menu - The Queensberry has a regular parma, as well as a variety of ‘Novelty’ parmas to choose from, our choices were -

 

  • Chicken Parmagiana - $15
  • Aussie Parmagiana With egg and barbeque sauce - $16
  • Mexican Parmagiana With chorizo, jalapeno peppers and salsa - $16
  • Hawaiian Parmagiana With pineapple - $16
  • Italian Parmagiana With olives and salami - $16

Decisions decisions! I normally don’t go for novelty toppings on my parma, but the mexican option looked too scrumptious to pass up, so thats what I went with. The other reviewers went for different varieties but I’ll cover those later in the review.

Warning - extremely petty complaint to follow - As the warning just stated, I am completely aware of how silly I am about to sound, feel free to skip to the following paragraph. Queensberry hotel, do you have to print everything, Your menus, your bar specials, every notification or sign posted is done in the font ‘Papyrus’. This is a terrible, TERRIBLE font and must die, there are even Anti Papyrus Websites about this very issue. Please Queensberry, change your font, I cannot stand the eye-rape of Papyrus any longer.

After a short wait our parma selection arrived - I took photos of all the varieties we had so you can get an idea of the difference.

Reviewer Nikki had the original

Both Myself and Reviewer Shanan had the Mexican

Reviewer Luke had the Hawaiian, with a side of BBQ sauce 

Reviewer Tony had the Italian

Reviewer Carly had nothing, as she decided to eat before she came. Fail.

I was a little scared when the parmas first arrived, the schnitzels looked processed and the cheese looked rubbery and un-appealing.

But I must admit, my first impression was wrong! The chicken was a quality breast, not overly thick but thick enough. There was plenty of salsa on my mexican, a few areas of partial nudity on the cheese part of things, there was a good covering of chorizo under the cheese, but I couldn’t really detect the jalepenos. Unfortunately there was the slightest burnt edge around the side of the schnitzel, not a hellworthy sin but also not the best. All in all the parma was a great feed, Like I said before i’m not big on novelty parma toppings, but this one could definitely convert me, also, halfway through my parma looked like Africa, so I took a photo

The chips, although served under the parma, were crisp and nicely seasoned, I wouldn’t have minded a few more though, as the serving was a little small.

I was not a big fan of the salad. The other reviewers rated it higher but I think that was because they simply got more stuff in theirs than in my serving. My salad consisted of lettuce, a couple of slivers of cucumber and a single piece of onion, with some balsamic dressing. I am all for a simple garden salad with a splash of balsamic, but this was a little too simple for my tastes.

All in all the Queensberry served up a decent parma - Definitely worth the trip if you’re a Uni student and can get the discount to $10, Also, if you go on a Tuesday night, the Parmas are $10 for anyone with the purchast of a drink, or if you go on a Thursday night, the Parmas are $13, no drink purchase necessary.

One more thing I thought was worth a mention was this machine

Yum, I just love hot nuts in my mouth (You know that she said it, do I really need to point it out?)

Parma - 7.1
Chips - 6.3
Salad - 5.6
Value - 6.9
Total - 6.6

The search continues…

Queensberry Hotel on Urbanspoon

Attempt #19 - 'Pugg Mahones'

 

[info]

When? - 18th of August, 2010

Where? - 175 Elgin St. Carlton

Price? - $12.50 Wednesday Parma night, $15 with a pot.

Barry? - Yes

Website? - http://www.puggmahones.com.au/

Reviewers - Cale, Lee, Ness, Nikki, Shanan, Stefo, Tanya, Tony Q[/info]

**EDIT** Just got word that Pugg Mahones has closed it's doors as of January 2014. You will be missed Puggs! I never got my name on your 100 pints club wall. What a shame...**

We haven’t done too well with Irish pubs in the past - Bridie O’reillys, The Quiet Man & Dan O’connell’s parmas have ranged from ‘not great’ to ‘okay… I guess’, but when we heard that Pugg Mahones in Carlton were running a $12.50 parma night it was something we had to try (it also helped that Puggs is one of my personal favourite bars in Melbourne)

We rocked up at about seven to a fairly empty pub, we took our seats and one thing struck us instantly… we were in PRIME Barry playing position - our table was just feet from the machine we all love. Points already, Puggs. I took a photo to illustrate just how close we were to Barry.

I don’t think we could have gotten any closer - people who didn’t want to stand could yell out their answers from the table!

We ordered our parmas and settled in front of Barry while we waited. we were there on ‘Parma Night’ so they came to $12.50 each, or $15 with a pot. According to the menu the parmigiana they serve on non-parma nights comes to $18.90 and is served with ‘seasonal vegetables and creamy potato gratin’. Ours was served with chips & salad, so just be aware of that.

Before we get to the chicken, I should talk about the pub itself. Puggs is a great example of a faux Irish pub, but what caught my attention the first time I was there was the ‘100 pints of guinness club’. Fill out a quick sign up sheet and minutes later you will be presented with a card (great quality ATM style card, complete with magnetic strip down the back). Every time you order a pint of guinness, hand over the card and they will give it a swipe, get to 100 and you will get your name forever immortalised on the walls along with all the other champions who have completed the challenge. Last checked I was sitting at around 25 pints, but one day my name will be up there with the other champions.

It will be mine … oh yes … it will be mine

Puggs have a great array of beers available as well as a decent wine list - there is a different event on every night of the week, I suggest you either check out the Thursday student night for a great night of drinking and good music, or the day of days for Irish pubs - St. Patricks day, which well and truly goes off. Although last time I was there on St. Pats someone through a potato from the street through the open roof of the second floor and I nearly got beaned, but that kind of thing is bound to happen once in awhile!

Oh, I also should mention that Puggs have a second location in Hardware St. in the city - another fine establishment, but make sure you don’t confuse the two in regards to this review, as it would seem they do different specials on different nights.

After a bit of a wait the parmas arrived, the place had gotten a bit busier so we tore ourselves away from Barry and sat down to our meals …

Mmmm Guinness and Parma - a winning combination!

The photo is a tad misleading I think, this parma wasn’t big - it was actually quite small and there was a bit of a burnt edge around one side of the chicken. But there was semi decent cheese coverage, a slice of ham and the parma was set beside the chips.

The chicken itself was very thin in places, even though it was small the parma was tasty - one reviewer picked up a hint of parmesan cheese in the cheese mixture, which was rather tasty. there was a slice of ham on board but it was rather low on the napoli (I can barely remember it at all, but I can see it in the photo, so I guess it was there).

As I said earlier, the chips were set aside from the parma, as opposed to below - there was a decent serving, they were crispy and seasoned well … VERY well, a few reviewers complained that they were too salty, but in my opinion the saltier the better. (theres a ‘thats what she said’ in there somewhere)

The salad was your basic garden salad with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, shredded carrot, mustard seeds & balsamic dressing, It was tasty and served its purpose, but nothing to really write home about.

All in all it was an okay parma, especially for only $12.50 (and pints of Guinness and Kilkenny dropped to $5.50 after 8 o’clock) but unfortunately it was a very small parma - everyone at the table was still hungry after and probably hit the drive through on the way home. But if you are looking for a cheap, decent tasting parma with (in my opinion) great chips then definitely give Puggs a shot. I’d be very interested to come back on a non-parma night to try their $18.90 parma with veggies and potato gratin, just to see the difference in quality (and who doesn’t love potato gratin!?). I’ll be sure to get the table next to Barry.

Parma - 5.8
Chips - 5.9
Salad - 5.5
Value - 6.4
Total - 5.90

The search continues …

Pugg Mahones Irish Pub on Urbanspoon

 

Attempt #18 - 'The Colonial Hotel'

Couldn’t find a picture of the place anywhere … google maps street view to the rescue!

 

[info]

When? - 11th of August, 2010

Where? - The Colonial Hotel, 585 Lonsdale St, Melbourne CBD.

Price? - $20.50

Barry? - No

Website? - http://www.colonialhotel.info/

Reviewers - Adam, Cale, Lee, Ness, Stefo, Tanya, Tony Q[/info]

I received an email last week from a reader named Shannon who said that the Colonial hotel, around the corner from where he works, has revamped their menu and is now offering a 420g parma with (according to the website) ‘herbed and crumbed chicken breast with smoked ham, napoli sauce, mozzarella, tasty cheese, chunky chips and a garden salad’ for $20.50. Sounds like a winner to me! so on the word of our new friend Shannon we decided to head to the inner city, we loaded up the Parma Bus and were on our way (there isn’t actually a ‘Parma Bus’ but wouldn’t that be awesome!?).

Sigh … A man can dream.

The Colonial is one of those places I have been to a hundred times but never considered eating there, not that there is anything wrong with it but going to ‘NEXT’ or ‘PLASTIC’ (as the pub is known on certain days of the week) have been purely outings for drinking, dancing and stopping to get McDonalds at 4 o’clock the following morning -it has just never been a venue I’ve associated with having a parma, so lets see if they can change my opinion!

Interesting fact - I was at The Colonial Hotel helping my mate film his end of year 12 film class SAC when the planes hit on September 11th, 2001.

I made the reservation on their website’s super easy to use online booking system and we were off, ignoring warnings of torrential rainstorms due to hit the city - we wouldn’t let something as silly as a bit of water falling from the sky interrupt our search for the perfect parma!

Inside, the colonial is a huge place, on its busier nights it is three floors of drinking and debauchery - but on the night we went the dance floor and stage were gone, and in its place were a bunch of tables and people enjoying what looked like very tasty meals. When everyone in our group arrived we took our seats and placed our order. $20.50 for their parma, I was a tad disturbed when I noticed the sign beside the bar read ‘Melbourne’s best “Chicken” parmigiana’ … complete with quotation marks around the word “chicken”, who is that sign quoting when they are telling me its chicken, and are they a reputable source? I think I may need to see some references.

Table service was a nice touch, the amazingly friendly staff took our order and we awaited our parmas - the table we were seated at had a long couch down one side and chairs along the other, the couch was a nice, comfy touch until food came, then it proved a little low to eat comfortably. Not a massive drama though, I enjoyed the comfy couch so no points lost there.

Not too long after we ordered our parmigianas arrived.

The menu stated that this was a 420g parma - although it looks a little small in the photo I’d have to say this was the thickest chicken breast we’ve reviewed so far, consistently over an inch thick pretty much all the way to the edge. The schnitzel was coated in crumbs with herbs through them that gave them a nice home made flavour - there were a few areas of nude schnitzel but nothing to complain about, there was a (albeit rather small) slice of smoked ham, good coating of napoli and a decent helping of cheese, which was a mixture of mozzarella and tasty cheese. You could definitely taste the tasty cheese in the mixture, this may be a little overpowering if you don’t like the sharp taste that tasty cheese has, but I love it so no points lost here. The parma was juicy, thick, well cooked and delicious. A fine effort, Colonial!

Now on to the chips - first of all, as you can see from the photo of the plate above, there was PLENTY of room left, there was no need to stack the parma onto the chips as they did. Other than that it was a fairly small serving of standard chunky fries, there was no detectable seasoning but there were salt shakers on the table. I haven’t got much else to say about the fries, they were hot and fresh, but rather bland and an extra handful would have been appreciated.

The salad was a simple garden salad of Rocket lettuce, cucumber, shredded carrot, tomato and a dressing that I couldn’t quite place, it tasted like a sweet balsamic. It was a very tasty salad that scored high with the judges, my one complaint would be that there just wasn’t enough of it, you have a big plate there guys, fill it up!

We finished up our parmas and settled the bill, there was no Barry that I could see at this pub but the strippers are right across the road so you’ve got your entertainment covered (gotta love King st!).

The Colonial Hotels chicken parma is pretty damn good. A tasty, juicy and most of all thick chicken breast I would be happy to try again. Unfortunately the sides were a bit of a let down, the chips were bland and the salad was tasty, but small. Its definitely worth a try, if only for the chicken itself.

Parma - 7.4
Chips - 5.0
Salad - 7.5
Value - 7.0
Total - 6.87

The search continues …

Colonial Hotel on Urbanspoon

Attempt #17 - 'The Laurel Hotel'

 

[info]

When? - 4th of August, 2010

Where? - The Laurel Hotel, 289 Mt. Alexander Rd. Ascot Vale

Price? - $25 in Bistro for ’ The Laurel Massive Parma Challenge’ with a free drink if you finish the entire meal.

Barry? - Yes, But it crashed every time we tried to play.

Website? - http://www.laurelhotel.com.au

Reviewers - Adam, Cale, Lee, Luke, Ness, Shanan, Stefo, Tanya, Tony Q[/info]

This weeks review is literally the next closest pub to The Prince of Wales Hotel, a block-and-a-bit from the front door of the Prince you’ll find The Laurel Hotel. The scientific theory of Locatio-Parmo-Geography states that a pub so close to the building that once housed the best parma in Australia must, due to residual parmigianite-radiation, serve up a good parma itself (science is fun!). When we heard word that the Laurel was serving up a ‘Massive Parma Challenge’ we knew we had to give it a go.

The Laurel is split into two halves, one side has the public bar, TAB & beer garden the other is a totally separated Bistro area, a large spacious room with central bar and small outdoor eating area. We chose to eat in the bistro, - the bistro menu is available in the bar (as well as a cheaper bar menu with a cheaper, lower quality parma), but with 9 people at the review we opted for the spacious bistro to give ourselves room to stretch our legs

We took our seats and checked the menu - $25 for the Laurels ‘massive parma challenge’, with a reward of a free drink if you finish the entire meal. A bit pricey for a parma but if you factor the free pot into the price it takes a little bit of the sting out of the meal.

We ordered our meals at the bar and awaited their arrival - There was a large TV playing music videos to keep us entertained while we waited. Interesting to note for the Bulmers cider lovers (such as myself) who read the site, Bulmers is available on tap in the public bar, but not the bistro. I had to walk around to the front of the pub a few times throughout the night to get my cider fix, a slight annoyance but the pints were cheap, cold and tasted damn good.

After a fairly short wait, our parmigianas arrived -

I’ve gotta say I was impressed! The chicken came out on a veritable mountain of chunky beer battered chips and a large serving of salad. It was nowhere near the scale of The Hotel Albion’s Grandeoso Parma Challenge, but it was pretty darn impressive.

The Laurel’s schnitzel definitely takes the rating of ‘Scarlett Johansson’ - as it has a very juicy breast. The chicken was big, thick, succulent and didn’t taste at all processed, my one gripe with the schnitzel would be the crumbs they are using are standard processed crumbs, they would be kicking goals if they used home made crumbs, or even chucked some herbs in there, but that is a very minor complaint for a great piece of chicken. The parma came with ham and a good coating of cheese with very few nude areas, they were a little short on the napoli in my opinion, but not by much. all in all this is a great piece of meat.

A visual representation of the Laurel’s Chicken Schnitzel quality

I will preface the next bit by saying I’ve never seen the group so torn on the quality of the sides, some loved them and some hated them - I’ll try to cover both opinions below.

My parma arrived on a mountain of chunky beer battered chips, they were hot, crispy and well seasoned - other reviewers didn’t get a mountain as big as the one I recieved, and thought that they were skirting the line of being more like potato wedges than they chips. I thought they were delicious and some of the best chips we have come across since the Prince of Wales parma was available

It was the same split opinion with the salad - it was a large serving simple garden salad of Rocket lettuce, onion, tomato and balsamic vinegar - simple and tasty, yet some reviewers thought it was too simple, and compared to the Princes selection of garden salad, potato salad & pasta salad, it just didn’t rate.

With little effort (we aren’t exactly amateurs here) the parma ‘challenge’ was complete

Challenge = Complete

We collected our free victory pots at the bistro bar, and headed into the public bar for our post-parma game of Barry

This is where the night took an unfortunate turn, while playing the Monopoly game on barry, we were very close to finishing the round and claiming the cash prize which could have been anywhere up to $100 when …

This is why I use Macs

BARRY FAIL! the game simply died on us and reset to the home screen, we tried again a few minutes later and it was again in crashville. not. happy. Laurel. 

We were heartbroken. downtrodden. beaten down shells of parma reviewers until we noticed the below sign on the wall 

Lucky for us it was Wednesday, I hate when I have to pay for my hugs. We all engaged in a group hug to lift our spirits, and parted ways until next weeks attempt.

The Laurels parma is damn good, but a little pricey - at $25 it’s up there with the most expensive parma we have reviewed behind the Hotel Albion’s Grandeoso for $30, but that was TWO parmas stacked on top of one another, totally worth it.

But if you are in the mood for a great tasting parma and don’t mind the sting in your wallet, the Laurel should definitely be on your list, to get full value for money be sure to finish it and claim your free drink. Just be sure to avoid Barry.

Parma - 7.4
Chips - 7.8
Salad - 5.9
Value - 6.0
Total - 6.89

The search continues …

Laurel Hotel on Urbanspoon