Attempt #81 - 'Stolberg Beer Cafe"

[info]

When? - 15/12/11

Where? - Stolberg Beer Cafe. 197 Plenty Rd, Preston

Price? - $18

Barry? - No

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

Reviewers - Adam, Lee, Nikki[/info]

Last weekend, on the way to Doncaster shopping center to battle the hordes of christmas shopping maniacs, we passed by Stolberg Beer Cafe - On the corner of Bell St. and Plenty Rd a sign out the front touted the pub as having “Melbourne’s Best Beer Garden”. A big call, and as regular readers will remember, I’m a sucker for a good beer garden. I set it up and last night we headed to Stolberg for our last ranked parma attempt for the year.

As a pub Stolberg is massive. A big front room with dining area, massive well stocked bar, heaps of TV’s running sports (last night was field hockey … interesting choice) and a pool table, turning the corner leads to an equally big area with fireplace, more TV’s and what I assume is the dance floor on busier nights. It was a small group this week so not having to wait around for other attendees to arrive meant we ordered our parmas on arrival, headed out the back to the beer garden and awaited the arrival of our birds.

The beer garden was rather decent (although I wouldn’t agree with the claim that it was “Melbourne’s Best”), as we sat down a two piece acoustic cover band known as “Bright Side” was starting up, they did a pretty good job, playing all the songs you’d expect an acoustic cover band in a beer garden to play - Although (and I’m going to sound like an old man here) at some points they got quite loud, and it was difficult to chat amongst ourselves while eating due to the noise.

With a pint of Goat by my side, our chicken parmas arrived -

The first impression of the schnitzel was it was a bit small and a bit processed. There was no nudity, well browned cheese and plenty of ham, however it was a little light on the napoli, it seemed most of the liquid had been absorbed into the crumbs by the time it arrived. There was also a sweetness through the whole parma that I couldn’t put my finger on, Reviewer Nikki likened it to cinnamon, but not quite.

I haven’t got too much to say about the Stolberg parma (amazing, on a parma review website) It wasn’t bad by any means, but it was just bland. I have mentioned Big Parma Syndrome in previous reviews, and the Stolberg parma seemed to carry the Big Parma lack of taste, in a rather small parma - quite the anomally.

The chips were the absolute star of this meal, crispy, fluffy, cooked to perfection with just the right amount of seasoning - my only complaint would be that there just wasn’t enough of them, I didn’t want it to end! They are quite possibly the closest thing we have had to the Prince of Wales chips in a very long time.

The salad was also a bit of a surprise - A kind of greek salad with lettuce, onion, carrot, fetta cheese and little orange cubes that we placed as either pumpkin or sweet potato, the balsamic dressing obscured the flavour and hindered our investigation into the identity of the ingredient. Overall the salad was quite nice - nothing amazing, but pretty good.

Overall the parma at the Stolberg was a bit of a let down, if it weren’t for those glorious chips the score would’ve been a fair bit lower - they absolutely saved the dish.

According to the website Stolberg offer up a $13 parma Monday - if I were in the area on a Monday I’d probably stop in for a parma, but otherwise I wouldn’t go out of my way for it. If you’re there on a Thursday like we were its probably better to opt for the $10 Pizza & Pot deal that they run, the pizzas looked quite good - and if you can get it with a side of chips you’ll definitely be on a winner.

So thats it! our last ranked parma for the year, and what a year it has been! Big thanks to all our readers, it’s because you read my insane rantings about crumbed chicken that we have the inspiration to head out week after week.

Although it is our last ranked parma for the year be sure to pop in next Friday, as Thursday night we are heading out and presenting a very special pub in Melbourne with the Dazey for Parma of the Year 2011. Exciting, huh!?

Parma - 3.3
Chips - 7.67
Salad - 6.50
Value - 6
Total - 5.43

The search continues…

stolberg Beer Cafe on Urbanspoon

Be sure to visit this time next week when we announce our winner of our 2011 Parma of the Year award, “The Dazey”! more info on the Twitter and Facebook!

Attempt #80 - 'The Union Hotel'

[info]

When? - 08/12/11

Where? - The Union Hotel, 109 Union St. Brunswick

Price? - $18

Barry? - No

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

Reviewers - Alek, Emma, Lee, Nikki, Pat, Stefo, Tony[/info]

The Sunday before we visited the Union on official Parma Daze business was Reviewer Pat’s birthday - and to celebrate another successful rotation around the sun, Pat organised a Sunday sesh in the beer garden out the back of the Union Hotel, Brunswick.

The weather was gorgeous, the beer was tasty and the food around me looked good - if you follow the Twitter you would have seen me post a photo of the unofficial parma I snuck in that Sunday - After consumption of that bad boy we deemed it tasty enough to return for a full review, which we did last week.

Now just to be clear we are talking about The Union Hotel on Union Rd. Brunswick, there is a Union in Ascot Vale that we have already visited and I hear there is even a Union on Brunswick road, so this could get a bit confusing. This Union is a hidden little gem nestled in the middle of suburban brunswick, From the outside it looks like a standard pub, you’d never guess that inside is hiding a fantastic beer garden that I predict I will be re-visiting quite a few times as the weather warms up.

I made a call earlier in the day and reserved a table, I wasn’t expecting it to be busy but you can never be sure - it was a good thing we did when we arrived at seven things were fairly quiet but they quickly filled up, tables were disappearing left and right so we quickly took our seats to ensure our parma cravings would be fulfilled.

We ordered our meals at the bar and awaited their arrival, Upon returning to our table a basket of sourdough bread was delivered, a very nice touch, regular readers will know that we are suckers for free bread. The live music kicked in shortly after (if you check their website you’ll see an ever-rotating schedule of live acts on a Thursday night) I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I will never remember to set the timer and record the amount of time from ordering to arrival, but the Mountain Goat steam ale was delicious, the music was pumping and the conversation was good so the wait flew by, before I knew it the parmas were filing out of the kitchen

The lighting inside wasn’t too great, so to make up for it here is the photo of the parma I had the weekend prior - practically identical and a much better photo

The first and most noticeable thing about the Union parma is the excess of nude schnitzel I was a bit worried the first time I had this parma, but amazingly after starting I didn’t really care about the nudity - the home made schnitzel has an amazing herb encrusted crumbing that is rather tasty, so much so I didn’t quite mind the shortage of napoli and cheese (although full coverage would have been nice)

With the schnitzel and crumbing being so obviously home made it was a bit of a let down that the napoli was definitely from a packet, but there was plenty of it, as was the cheese, and they complimented the chicken nicely, Also the chopped basil on top was a very nice touch that actually added some flavour to the dish, unlike most of the other ‘green things on top’ we have discovered in the past. The chicken itself was a tad thin, but not terribly so, All in all despite being a little bit small the Union parma was full of flavour with a home cooked flair that you only find in small charming pubs like this.

The chips were well cooked, tasty, and there were a fuckload of them (pardon my french). The parma sat atop a mountain of chips that were quite nicely seasoned - A sauce pot to the side would’ve scored them top marks.

The salad, like the chips, was also rather sizable. A simple garden salad of lettuce, onion, carrot & tomato, however even though it was big it was rather dry - there was very little dressing, leaving the whole thing quite bland.

Now to celebrate our tenth consecutive week with reviewer quotes … here are some reviewer quotes!

Despite some minor complaints the Union serves up a respectable little parma, I love a good beer garden and this one is in the perfect stage of not being quite well known enough to get too busy - but that won’t last for long, and as summer is starting to kick in I recommend trying this place out ASAP - A pint of steam ale, a parma and a seat in the sun makes for the perfect Sunday session, give it a go.

Parma - 6.57
Chips -7.29
Salad - 4.43
Value -6.29
Total - 6.23

The Union Hotel on Urbanspoon

Attempt #79 - 'The Steam Packet Hotel'

[info]

When? - 1/12/11

Where? - The Steam Packet Hotel. 13 Cole st. Williamstown

Price? - $21.50

Barry? - No

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

Reviewers - Lee, Nikki, Stefo[/info]

The first time we attempted to visit the Steam Packet it was booked out and we ended up finding the Customs House around the corner - A great parma in its own right, but I always wanted to head back to Williamstown to try the one that got away. I continued to hear many good things so we headed back to Willy and the Steam Packet Hotel.

In researching this pub before the attempt I came across an interesting tidbit - The Steam Packet is supposedly haunted - The story goes that an Opera singer who was there killed himself after losing his voice, If you want the full story there is a Ghost Tour that runs through Willy, which comes with a meal at the Packet - hopefully the parmas aren’t haunted! I think I’ve just stumbled on next summer’s blockbuster…

I’ve gotta say … I’m proud of this one

But I digress. Seeing as the last time we attempted to visit the Steam Packet we were turned away, we did the smart thing and arrived at the pub again without a booking. The bartender informed us that bookings are absolutely essential on Thursday night, as Thursday is cheap steak night that really brings in the crowds - After a bit of searching we managed to squeeze ourselves into a spot on the leather couches in the corner, not an ideal eating position, but thats what we get for not having a reservation. While looking over the menu we noticed that the steaks coming out of the kitchen looked amazing - If we weren’t there for parmas I would’ve been all over them like white on rice. However parma is what we were there for, and parma is what we ordered.

Now in my little life I follow two sports teams - The Western Bulldogs and the Detroit Red Wings, Unfortunately for me the only Red Wings friendly pub is 15,973 kilometers from where I’m sitting (thanks Google distance calculator!). On the other hand, Fortunately for me the Steam Packet Hotel is a ‘Bulldogs Friendly Business’ and a flash of a valid Bulldogs membership gets 10% off your total bill … a great deal.

Quicker than expected our parmas arrived.

This was a big parma, enveloping most of the chips and a portion of the salad.

The chicken breast was pure, unprocessed and cooked to perfection, the crumbs weren’t overly thick and the toppings were more than plentiful. One thing this parma had was a stack of flavour, especially for a big parma - lashings of shredded ham, not just one slice, but an impressing coating, heaps of cheese cooked to golden brown perfection, and the napoli, while a little absent in some areas, was fresh and home made.

I instantly understood why the Packet’s parma was recommended to me so many times, it was a great piece of bird that I’d be more than happy to try again.

The chips, while a hefty serving and well cooked, were a little boring - zero seasoning and, due to the fact that we were sitting at the couch as opposed to a table in the bistro, there was no salt shaker within reach - They were definitely passable, but did nothing to ‘wow’ us.

The salad split the group, but I believe that was due to uneven serves - My salad was a decent serving of lettuce, onion, cucumber, grated carrot, and tomato under a creamy pesto dressing that I really enjoyed - however Reviewer’s Stefo and Nikki had a different story, as the shredded carrot was all but absent from their salad, there was less dressing and less stuff overall - which can pretty much be put down to an unfortunate grab of the tongs in the kitchen, not a hellworthy sin but it did cause some contention among the group.

The Steam Packet parma is fantastic, let down only by some lackluster chips and according to some a so/so salad, however its definitely worth seeking out (but make sure you have a reservation!)

The pub has a great vibe and an impressive range of drinks on tap - My two favourite beers, McLaren Vale Pale Ale and Mountain Goat Steam Ale were both readily available. Although I didn’t see the ghost of any suicidal opera singers, this is a parma I will be recommending to people for awhile to come.

Parma - 8.33
Chips - 5.42
Salad - 6.33
Value - 7.83
Total - 7.25

The search continues…

Steam Packet Hotel on Urbanspoon

Attempt #78 - 'Seared'

(once again I am stuck for a decent exterior shot … I try and remember to take one myself but am usually so caught up in the fervor that parmage is soon to take place that my mind blanks on the task!)

[info]

When? - 24/11/11

Where? - Seared Steak & Seafood. Shop 1140, Level 1, Highpoint shopping center, Maribyrnong

Price? - $22.90

Barry? - No

Website? - None

Reviewers - Adam, Cale, Carly G, Janet, Lee, Nikki, Stefo[/info]

Our reasons for visiting Seared were 100% selfish. As many of you may know The Inbetweeners Movie opened last Thursday night seeing as a majority of the review team are big fans of the TV series we planned a double event - Parma at the closest possible venue to the cinema, followed by the movie. It was a toss up between The Anglers Tavern and Seared, but seeing as Seared was literally 100 metres from the Hoyts box office, Seared won (and we will keep The Anglers in our back pocket for a future review).

Breaking a little from our unspoken convention Seared is definitely not a pub - more of a licensed cafe if anything. The majority of Seared’s dining area is outside, this is fine if the weather is nice and you can tolerate smokers all around.

None of us were too fussed, so we ordered our parma and awaited its arrival. (one thing I do want to go back for is the “giant chicken nugget” they advertise as a main on the menu… I have to know what that is)

A few opinions floating about the interwebs state that although the food at Seared is good, the service is terrible - I went in with an open mind but I’m afraid I’ll have to agree with the trolls. After we were seated and placed our order we were only approached one other time in the hour and a half we were seated to see if we needed any drinks. Not great.

But on to the important bit - The parma.

Based on looks alone the Seared parma is spectacular - stacked high on a mountain of chips, lashings of ham, cheese and you can never go wrong with the aesthetic choice of a sprinkling of green things. However looks have fooled us before, we tucked in to discover that for once the parma actually lived up to the initial impression.

The schnitzel was quality chicken breast, thick, well crumbed and cooked, the napoli was well herbed, definitely home made, the ham was in abundance and carried a fantastic flavour and the cheese (while leaving a little nudity) was melted to perfection and tasty while not overpowering the meal. The whole parma carried a home-made vibe that (to be honest) I was surprised to find in a venue inside a shopping center.

Compared to the parma, the chips were a let down - there were a lot of them, you can’t fault them for that - heaps of chips, however they were slightly over the line of overcooked and completely unseasoned. Everyone at the table reached for the salt shaker at one point or another to give them some semblance of flavour.

The salad, like the chips were a let down, it seemed as it was there mostly for show - presented well, with each salad consisting of a pile of lettuce, two slices of cucumber and two pieces of tomato strategically rested to sit atop the cucumber. The was the smallest hint of balsamic dressing, but it was so minute that it could’ve been added by accident as the chef dressed a nearby salad. All in all at first glance the salad looked pretty, but on closer inspection there was absolutely no substance to it… the Brynne Edelsten of garden salads

Quite possibly the strangest image I have photoshopped for this website … just go with it.

The quotes seem to agree with what I said, and I’ll carry that through to the wrap up - The Seared parma is great, top notch. however this is one of those times where it was horrendously let down by the sides, both the chips and salad were not up to par, and they let the dish down massively, dodgy sides are forgivable in times of a cheap parma, however this one clocked in at $22.90 - quite a price tag for a good parma and shit sides.

I’m coming off too harsh - it is an accepted fact that the parma itself is the most important part of the dish and the parma at Seared is worth getting if you find yourself at Highpoint, I said it before but I was genuinely surprised at the quality of the chicken - my expectations for a shopping center parma was quite low, and Seared definitely raised the bar.

Oh, and the Inbetweeners movie was freaking amazing - A must see if you’re a fan of the TV series. If you haven’t seen the TV series, See it, then see the movie.

Parma - 7.93
Chips - 4.21
Salad - 4.86
Value - 5.57
Total - 6.10

The search continues…

Seared Seafood & Steak on Urbanspoon

Attempt #77 - 'The Sherlock Holmes Inn'

[info]

When? - 17/11/11

Where? - The Sherlock Holmes Inn. 415 Collins St. Melbourne

Price? - $21 for regular, $23.50 for ‘Parma Deluxe’

Barry? - No

Website? - http://thesherlockholmes.com.au/

Reviewers - Adam, Emma, Lee, Nikki, Stefo, Tony Q[/info]

 

I love underground pubs, not underground in the hipster ‘this place is so totally underground’ way, but literal pubs under the ground where you have to take stairs down from street level to enter. Turf Bar, The Charles Dickens and even a bar called ‘The Bomb Shelter’ underneath a strip club in Fargo, North Dakota (Although when I went there it was called ‘The Basement’) stick out in my mind as some of my all time favourite spots to grab a beverage.

So when the option arose to visit the Sherlock Holmes on Collins St, it was a no brainer. This pub is the definition of cosy, once you descend those wooden stairs (past the 221B Baker St Lamp) you would have no way of knowing that you weren’t in 1880’s London, Well, Beside the flat screen TV’s and abundance of Aussies. One thing that does remain authentic to the time period is the lack of mobile phones - being an underground pub surrounded by brick and concrete mobile phone signal strength is slim to none, so make sure you get all your tweeting done before you venture down the stairs.

Drinks-wise there was a decent selection of wines & beers (18 beers on tap), My usual pint of Bulmers was off the menu so I went with a ‘Stowford Press’, their on tap cider, I wasn’t a huge fan at first but it grew on my as I drank. Much less carbonated than Bulmers but it did the job perfectly, would have again.

Bookings are essential for groups if you want to get a bite to eat at the Sherlock, as its a small pub with an even smaller dining area, if we didn’t have a booking I’m pretty sure we would’ve been in trouble. We took our seats at the table and had a look at the menu wherein we were presented with a choice - Do we go the regular Chicken Parma for $21, or take a walk on the wild side with the ‘Parma Deluxe’, which includes salami and feta cheese on top of everything else. The table was split, Reviewers Stefo, Adam & Tony went for the Deluxe, Nikki and myself opted for the regular, and Reviewer Emma toed the line by ordering the Deluxe, with no feta.

We ordered at the bar, grabbed some pints and awaited the foods arrival - Our table was situated with a perfect view through the serving window into the kitchen, so we could see our parmas being prepared. Before too long they jumped from the kitchen to our tables, and we began our meal.

The Regular

The Deluxe

The schnitzel was fantastic, no bones about it, thick, juicy chicken breast, crumbed to perfection, some minor nudity but the schnitzel was so tasty that I didn’t care. Take a look at the cross section below to get an idea of the thickness of this beast.

The cheese was plentiful, golden brown and delicious, the ham was fresh and carried a great flavour, the napoli was hard to spot - very light on the tomato unfortunately, it was there, but scarce. Overall it was a great tasting parma, and those that had the Deluxe had even better things to say, the salami added a much welcomed spice and the choice of not omitting the ham in place on the salami (as you’d expect many pubs to do) was bonus points for value.

The french-fried (McDonalds style) chips always split the table in terms of opinion - I don’t mind a properly prepared french fry, yet others much prefer the beer battered chunky option. Taste-wise the french fries were fine, however the small tuft of fries that we received left us wanting more.

Once again, the salad split the table. It was a garden salad of lettuce, onion, cherry tomatoes, shaved carrot & shallots with a creamy honey mustard dressing that almost came across as a hybrid between garden salad and coleslaw. I enjoyed it, there was plenty of it, however some reviewers throught it was a little too bland for their tastes. each to their own I suppose! (although I’m right … everyone else is wrong)

This is what they had to say…

Overall the Sherlock Holmes is a great little pub with a great parma! the chicken was quality, juicy and tasty - although at the end of the meal there was talk that it was a bit small (a few were still a bit hungry after the fact) I would take quality over quantity any day. It’s worth noting that they do a $17 Parma n’ Pint Wednesday special that is definitely worth stopping in to if you’re in the area - even if you’re not.

If you are wondering whether or not you should seek out the parma at the Sherlock Holmes, the answer is elementary, my dear reader. Definitely.

(And before you angry, angry Holmes-o-philes email me, yes, I am aware Sherlock Holmes never actually said “Elementary, my dear Watson” … but what a cool way to end the review. I suppose I’ve ruined it now with this excessive sidenote. Damn.)

Parma - 7.50
Chips - 5.83
Salad - 6.42
Value - 6.92
Total - 6.83

The search continues…

The Sherlock Holmes on Urbanspoon

Check out our latest venture, eParmony.com - Connecting the people of Australia with the parmas they love!

Attempt #76 - 'The Melbourne Central Lion Hotel'

[info]

When? - 10th of November, 2011

Where? - The Melbourne Central Lion, Melbourne Central Shopping center, Level 3 211 LaTrobe Street, Melbourne

Price? – $22 (with cheap lunch specials and options for either Eggplant ($20) or Veal ($25))

Barry? - Yes

Website? - http://www.acemelbourne.com.au/mclion/

Reviewers – Cale, Emma, Lee, Nikki, Pat, Stefo, Tony[/info]

A few weekends ago it was Reviewer Tony’s birthday, and to celebrate his successful orbit around the sun we headed to a place that I’m rather fond of, the Melbourne Central Lion Hotel. While sitting and drinking with a majority of the PD review team we came to the conclusion that we should revisit the Lion for a parma attempt. The following Thursday night we did just that, loaded up the parma bus and headed to the Melbourne Central Lion to check out their chicken parma.

The Lion is a pub that by all rights, shouldn’t be good - It’s a pub located inside a shopping center, it can be found the third level of Melbourne Central, Inside the big glass cone that envelops the Shot Tower, and adjacent to Hoyts.

However once you are inside the Lion you could completely forget you are inside a shopping center - The pub is absolutely massive, with a heap of space in the front bar and even a second room out the back with a second bar and TAB. Standard faux ‘British pub’ design with a live band most big nights and with a Pool table, Foosball table, Real Barry, Buck hunter, and a TAB you won’t be short of something to keep you entertained should the alcohol not be doing its job.

We took our seat in the ‘Beer garden’, (The designated, seating area out the front of the pub, pretending to be outdoors even though its still inside the shopping center) Ordered our parmas at the bar and awaited their arrival. Price wise it clocked in at $22, with an Eggplant parma option at $20 and a Veal parma at $25 - On the specials board there was a ‘Tandoori Parma’ advertised, but nobody had the balls to give that one a try and we stuck with the classic.

Before too long we were surrounded by plates of parma goodness - All seven parmas arrived simultaneously, carried by multiple staff. We dug in.

The schnitzels were big, flat and big. This is definitely a parmigiana you wont walk away from hungry. Reviewer Nikki, who had a slightly smaller piece of schnitzel to everyone else, was surprised to find an extra slice of shntitz to the side of her parma, as if the chef threw it on as a bonus to make up for her main meal not living up to the epic size of everyone else’s.

Due to their size, there was plenty of nude schntiz with all the parmas, which I was a little let down with at first however the area of the schnitzel that was properly sauced and cheesed was well and truly an acceptable size for a parma, so I considered the rest a bonus.

It was real, unprocessed chicken, a little overcooked on the nude edges, a little thin in parts but the majority of it held up a decent thickness - the crumbing was light and not at all overdone.

The areas that had cheese had plenty of it, but wound up being a bit underwhelming and flavorless - a feeling that carried through the taste of every topping to be honest, the napoli was plentiful, as was the ham, it was all there and did its job however there was no real standout ingredients, and after awhile it all got a bit boring.

This seems to be an issue we have encountered a few times in the past, and I’m going to finally give this issue a name, I call it “Big Parma Syndrome” 

We have come across it a few times in the past (examples Here, Here, Here and Here) but it seems that when a parma crosses from ‘decent’ size to ‘holy shit!’ size, the flavour takes a big hit - Now it may just be that after the halfway point of the parma you are starting to get full and the brain is shutting down the taste receptors to dissuade you from eating (that is sound science right there), but a lot of the big parmas are, while perfectly acceptable, just boring! There are exceptions to this rule (see Here, Here and Here) but remember the term “Big Parma Syndrome”, as it will no doubt come up again.

Also Reviewer Tony wanted to make sure that everyone knew his parma had a penis..

This is going to be a sentence of nothingness, However I just wanted to type something here so there was a break of text between the photo of Tony’s penis-parma and the cross section picture. I hope this is enough… do you think? Yeah. Probably enough.

Cross section!

The chips suffered an unfortunate fate, I’m sure at one point they were good, but due to the size of the parma they spent a lot of time in the sauna, sandwiched directly under the chicken, by the time we got to them they were in soggytown. We normally do our best to rescue chips from the sauna as soon as they arrive in front of us, however due to the size of the schnitzel we simply had nowhere to put the parma were we to lift it off the chicken. There was a decent serve of chips and the supplied tomato sauce bottles were definitely appreciated, however they were very starchy and without the tomato sauce were a bit flavourless.

The salad was pretty good, a simple garden salad of lettuce, carrot, tomato, cucumber onion and a creamy dressing. Standard, but the dressing had a great flavour and there was plenty of it, a fine accompaniment to the meal.

Now before I continue to the quotes I need to talk to the men reading this review, ladies, I’m going to have to ask you to skip the following paragraph and rejoin when the quotes start … even then maybe skip the first quote as it directly references what I’m going to talk about below.

Okay are the girls gone? Good.

I’ve been to a lot of bars in my time, seventy six different bars for parma alone, and I from what I have seen I will say that the Bartenders at The Lion are in contention for the hottest bar girls in Melbourne, And the short-shorts that seem to be standard Lion uniform are really helping their cause. A lot of the guys in the review team were more than happy to eat by the bar, just for the view. Definitely something to consider when making your choice of dining location in the city, if you are so inclined.

Okay, on to the quotes.

After we ate we indulged in some entertainment, won enough on Barry to pay for parking, which was a bonus…

Barry was great fun, but the machine on the left was SO much easier to win at, all you had to do was remember one four digit number and it paid out as much cash as you wanted! Pubs these days will do anything to get you in the door.

The Melbourne Central Lion parma is a mixed bag, Its big and guaranteed not to leave you hungry, With quality unprocessed schnitzel, however at around the halfway point we all had the same realisation, despite being completely adequate it was just a little boring. If you are near Melbourne Central and have a hankering for some parm I definitely recommend you stop in and give it a go (preferably on their Tuesday $15 Parma n Pot Special), otherwise I wouldn’t go out of my way for it.

Parma - 6.50
Chips - 4.43
Salad - 5.14
Value - 5.57
Total - 5.63

The search continues…

Lion Hotel Melbourne Central on Urbanspoon

Attempt #75 - 'The Lincolnshire Arms Hotel'

[info]

When? - 3rd of November, 2011

Where? - The Lincolnshire Arms Hotel. 1 Keilor Rd, Essendon

Price? – $14.50 in Sports Bar, $21.90 in Bistro

Barry? - They have a ‘Black’ Barry clone, but it was out of order when we tried to use it

Website? - http://www.thelinc.com.au/

Reviewers – Cale, Carly, Lee, Pat, Stefo, Tony[/info]

 

**EDIT** We re-visited The Linc in March, 2014 and again in 2016! - Check it out here and here to see if it fared any better!

This is a review I did not want to write. We went into the Lincolnshire Arms knowing that it wasn’t going to be a great parma, but after 74 attempts we could avoid it no longer. It had to be done.

The Lincolnshire Arms Hotel (or “The Linc”) is the Local watering hole for the majority of the Parma Daze review team, to the point where 90% of our parma attempts finish up with a few pints there afterwards. Its a great little pub that I have been drinking at for at least ten years and after the loss of the Prince of Wales it has filled the void as our go-to pub to sneak off to for a cheeky pint, any time of the day or night.

It is because we frequent the establishment so much that we were already aware of the quality of their parma offering, many of us have had one before and it was for that exact reason that we avoided reviewing the Linc’s parma for so long. The problem is that it hurts us to see a pub we love as much as the Linc hurt itself with a mediocre parma, Its time to confront the Linc about its issues, and how they are affecting us all.

Lets begin.

We arrived just before seven to an already packed pub - The Oaks Day races having just finished meant that the place was full of guys in suits and girls in frocks, Our chances of getting a table for six in the bistro was shot so we headed through the beer garden (with waterproof outdoor TV’s and plenty of heaters) and into the sports bar, where it was quite easy to get a table amongst the punters in the TAB. We glanced at the menu, $14.50, placed our order and awaited our foods arrival.

Four minutes after we ordered, two parmas arrived.

Four minutes.

Thats a bad sign in any language, I find that the old saying “good food takes time” is damn applicable to the chicken parmigiana, and no parma that arrives in 4 minutes flat can be any good.

However I mentioned that the first two parmas arrived within four minutes, it took another ten minutes before another three came out of the kitchen, then another ten on top of that before reviewer Tony got his hands on his.

This isn’t going to be pretty, but remember, we are harsh because we care.

Where to begin. First of all, you will notice that the Linc opts for the SHCN (Schnitzel, Ham, Cheese, Napoli) system of topping layering that we discovered a couple of weeks ago at our review of The Cross Keys, However the slice of ham was missing from the Linc’s parma, leaving us with a SCN topping layering system.

Actually, I’ll correct myself there, as there was another topping present on the Linc’s parma, we will call it an SCNO topping order. Take a look at the above photo carefully, see how in some places it looks like the napoli has split and you can see the cheese underneath? That is due to the pools of pure oil that had gathered together amongst the topping, A lot of the reviewers resorted to dabbing the top of the parma with a napkin to remove the excess oil that drowned this parma. Unacceptable.

The schnitzel was as processed as can be, as thin as a credit card, the underside of the crumbs were burnt and the napoli tasted like dolmio spaghetti sauce tipped straight from the tin onto the parma. The only thing we could taste was oil with a hint of tomato, the chicken had no taste and it makes me feel terrible to say this, but it was simply an awful parma, I have nothing good to say about it whatsoever.

The chips were so tasteless it was almost as if they had negative flavour, they looked okay from the outset, but biting into them left an odd claggy texture in my mouth, as if I was back in kindergarten eating the non toxic glue, we all reached for the supplied salt shaker to load them up with something to make them edible.

As for the salad, its time to play a brand new game! its called…

Name that ingredient!!

The ‘salad’ on the plate was comprised of four ingredients (no dressing), I have separated them in the above photo and lets see if we can go through what they are.

The lettuce is the easy one to get us going, its leafy, its green, its gotta be lettuce.

the other three ingredients however had us a little more stumped. They all tasted exactly the same, so the only clue we had to discern what they actually were was their colour, from this we can assume that the second ingredient is carrot, the third is either beetroot or cabbage (although it had the texture of dried beef jerky) and the final ingredient remains a complete mystery. Our best guess was parsnip but without scientific tests I don’t think theres any way to be sure - if anyone else has an idea as to what the mystery ingredient may be, please send us a Tweet or Facebook message!

On to the letters from loved ones (otherwise known as the quotes)

As a few reviewers mentioned, the parma came with a bake-at-home roll on the side. Bake at home rolls are delicious and this was definitely the best part of the meal by a mile.

We finished up our meals and headed back into the main bar - A great part about having a parma at the Linc is that we didn’t have the hassle of getting to the Linc afterwards … we were already there!.

The parma at the Linc is bad, not worth your time, money (or health) trying, It may sound like we are being harsh but if any member of the Linc’s management is reading this, we do it because we love!

The Linc is one of our favourite pubs and we want to be proud of the parma at the pub we call home! I am putting it out there that this is only a temporary situation, and if you get your act together with your parma we will be more than happy to come back and sit down for a completely unbiased re-review, its up to you now!

‘Cause I know … somewhere deep down in my heart … I still love you!

Parma - 1.50
Chips - 1.58
Salad - 0.67
Value - 3.00
Total - 1.65

The search continues…

Lincolnshire Arms Hotel on Urbanspoon

Attempt #74 - 'Platform 28'

[info]

When? - 27th of October, 2011

Where? - Platform 28. 82 Village St. Docklands

Price? – $21.90

Barry? - No

Website? - http://www.platform28.com.au

Reviewers – Grace, Kim, Lee, Nikki, Pat, Tony[/info]

Platform 28 was discovered after a fellow parma lover on Twitter (username @ParmaTUB) visited and gave it a seal of approval. The docklands is an area we have been meaning to hit for quite some time, so with high hopes we headed across the road from Etihad Stadium, to Platform 28.

First things first, Platform 28 is a gorgeous establishment, great areas for drinking and dining both indoors and out, separate dining room if you’re feeling fancy and an upper level that seemed to be reserved purely for functions. Platform 28 would be a perfect spot for a brew before a game of footy at the aforementioned Etihad stadium (without naming names a couple of AFL footballers were spied having a drink while we awaited our parmage)

The pub was busy for 7pm on a Thursday, we quickly put this down to their ‘Happy Hour’ $10 cocktails on Thursday evenings, we elbowed our way through the crowd, ordered our parmas at the bar and sat awaiting their arrival.

Before we get to the food I will preface the photos by saying that this was a dark pub - even though daylight savings has graced us with an extra hour of light, a decent photo of this parma was going to be difficult, I was going to have to break a cardinal rule of food photography (or iphoneography) and use the flash - which always leads to a shitty looking parma.

Our food arrived and I snapped the first photo - It was black as black, I plugged it into photoshop and raised the light as much as I could - below is the result…

After photoshoppage it didn’t turn out as bad as I was expecting - but for completeness sake, here is the dreaded flash photo

Anyway, pictures aside we picked up our cutlery and dug in. The schnitzel itself was pure, barely hammered chicken breast, I normally put the cross-section photo at the end of the parma description, however I’m bringing it forward to give you an idea of how thick this beast is -

The schnitzel tried to cover itself up by covering its juicy breasts with cheese - but we still got a great peek at the goods!

There was plenty of cheese, ham and napoli and the crumbing was adequate, there was minimal schnitzel nudity but to be honest the chicken carried such a great fresh taste that it wasn’t even necessary. The ham was thick and cheese tasted great without being overpowering, the napoli was plentiful and had a very sweet flavour - Apart for some very slight burnt edges on some of the nudity, this was a great tasting bird.

There was quite a decent serving of chips & they were beautifully cooked, however they were quite boring. Its been so long since we’ve had a surprisingly good chip grace our plate… is it so much to ask! A lot of us reached straight for the salt shaker after our first chip to give it some spice. Not much to complain about though, they were well cooked and there was a lot of ‘em

The salad was pretty damn good - also in a large serving, with lettuce, onion, tomato, lettuce, capsicum and sprouts. served in a separate bowl keeping it nice and fresh, my only complaint would be that they may have gone a bit overboard on the sprouts, there was so many of them I could barely taste anything else - I’ve got nothing against sprouts, they definitely separated this salad from the pack, but theres a fine line between interesting addition and overboard, especially for an ingredient that is usually used as a garnish.

But enough of my ramblings! what did everyone else think?

As predicted the crowd thinned out after happy hour ended and it was much easier to get ourselves a drink. After finishing up with parmas the group headed to the movies to catch ‘Paranormal Activity 3’ … I try to refrain from cursing in these reviews but fuck me that was some scary shit.

Overall this was a great parma - Guaranteed not to leave you hungry. Platform 28 has a fantastic atmosphere and as I said at the beginning would be perfect spot to stop into before heading over to Etihad to watch a game of footy.

Definitely one to check out.

Parma - 7.96
Chips - 5.83
Salad - 6.50
Value - 6.42
Total - 6.93

The search continues…

Platform 28 on Urbanspoon

Another thanks to @ParmaTUB for putting us onto this parma, and while you’re checking out his twitter be sure to check ours out as well!

Attempt #73 - 'The Cross Keys Hotel'

 

[info]

When? - 19th of October, 2011

Where? - The Cross Keys Hotel. 350 Pascoe Vale Rd. Essendon

Price? – $13 Parma n’ Pot Wednesdays in the Sports Bar

Barry? - No

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

Reviewers – Lee, Pat, Tony[/info]

 

A quiet attempt this week - A last minute change to Wednesday parma night left us with a smaller group than usual, but hey, A parma is a parma! so we saddled up the parma horses and headed to the cross keys (yeah, there are parma horses now, for the times when it wouldn’t be economically viable to take the parma bus - the fuel economy on that thing is a nightmare)

The Cross Keys is one of those pubs that I’ve always been aware of, but never actually been to, but seeing as we were looking for a local parma this week and have pretty much exhausted our parma options in the Essendon area, the Cross Keys it was!

Much like a TARDIS, the Cross Keys is bigger on the inside than it seems on the outside, a massively open space is home to a Sports Bar, a bistro, a TAB, a pokies room and a pretty great outdoor drinks area/outdoor TAB. If you are a fan of TV’s then this is the place for you, from where we sat I counted no less than forty TV’s surrounding us (including those in the TAB) playing everything you could imagine - lots of sport, this would be a great pub to come for a beer and to watch the footy, as there are so many TV’s so you could look almost anywhere and not miss a minute of the game.

On arrival we had the option of sitting in the bistro and getting their off-the-menu parma for $23.90, or pulling up a pew in the sports bar and trying their Wednesday Parma n’ Pot special for $13 - It was hard to justify heading in the bistro when the sportsbar counterpart was more than $10 cheaper, so we stuck to the sportsbar, ordered our chicken and awaited its arrival, before too long the chicken fell before us.

The first thing that struck me about this parma was the obvious mix up in topping layer order, your standard chicken parmigiana goes schnitzel-ham-napoli-cheese (or schnitzel-napoli-ham-cheese depending on where you go). The cross keys threw that notion out the window and opted for schnitzel-ham-cheese-napoli with the Napoli sitting on top, I know of a couple of pubs that do the SHCN system, but this is the first one we have reviewed. As far as I’m concerned all the ingredients are there, so we tucked in!

The schnitzel was small, there’s no sugar coating it, it was plain small, but it was real un-processed chicken and it was a decent thickness. The crumbs were thin and there was no attempt at hiding a thin schnitz under a thick layer of crumbing. There was minimal nudity, the cheese and ham were plentiful and the napoli had quite a unique flavour that, although tasty, was a little overpowering at times - whether this is a result of it having top billing I can’t say.

Overall it was a tasty bit of chicken, if only it were bigger it’d get much higher marks, but for $13 with you can’t really complain.

The chips were standard. Your usual pub chips cooked to golden brown perfection, however a lack of seasoning (and no salt on the table … Although there is more to say about that later) left them a little bland.

The salad was refreshing - served in a separate bowl was a garden salad of tomato, lettuce, carrot, onion, cucumber and a creamy caesar-ish dressing. It was fresh, crisp, and a fitting accompaniment to the parma

As reviewer Pat said in his quote, “I want another one”, and to be honest, so did I … So this happened -

Second parma! This one doesn’t count to the review, consider it an added extra, like a DVD commentary track or collection of scenes where the actors laugh while trying to say their lines.

The second time around was almost exactly like the first, the only difference I noted was a few extra chips and the bar girl gave us salt and pepper shakers this time - this helped the chips out a lot, and had we gotten the salt the first time around they probably would have fared better.

Overall the Cross Keys offers up a tasty parma, the SHCN system of topping layers didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would, and to be honest the major issue with this bird was the size - Although if you are here on a Wednesday and are still hungry after your first parma, do what we did and get a second one! at $13 with a free pot two parmas in the sports bar come out to pretty much the same price as one parma in the bistro, definitely worth considering.

Parma - 6.67
Chips - 4.00
Salad - 7.00
Value - 7.33
Total - 6.07

The search continues…

Cross Keys Hotel on Urbanspoon

Attempt #71 - 'The Local'

 

[info]

When? - 6th of October, 2011

Where? - The Local. 22-24 Bay St. Port Melbourne

Price? – $15 with a pot of Boags Thursdays ($19.90 normally)

Barry? - No

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

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

 

It had been ten years to the month since I had been through the doors of ‘The Local’. Back in October 2001 I was finishing year 12, had just turned eighteen, and my dad had his fiftieth birthday party at the very same location. It was a very (very) messy night and I’ve still got video footage of one of my 17 year old mates spewing in the dunny after trying to drink a pint of every beer they had on tap (although at the time it was an ‘Elephant and Wheelbarrow’)

Not much has changed in the past ten years, other than the name switch the pub still has a very ‘Elephant and Wheelbarrow’ feel to it - just with more TV’s (I’ll get to that in a moment)

Picture almost any Irish pub you’ve been to and you’re picturing The Local, Elephant & Wheelbarrow, Bridie O’Reillys, Waxy’s on the Gold Coast, they all share the same feel and if you’ve been to one you have been to them all. The thing that stands out about The Local is the sheer number of TV’s - I counted seven that I could see on the bottom floor alone, large Plasmas in each corner and even a personal TV in each booth lining the walls - This would be an awesome pub to watch the footy in, if the season hadn’t just finished.

We booked on the pubs website before we left, loaded up the parma bus, and arrived to our table waiting for us - a quick glance at the menu revealed that we had a choice ahead of us, as ‘Thursday Parma Night’ at The Local came with a few extras -

Although the Mexican looked damn tempting, I’m a traditionalist at heart so I went for the Classic parma, almost everyone at our table did the same apart from Reviewer Stefo who went with the Hawaiian and Reviewer Adam who opted for the Aussie.

Once again (as seems to be tradition) I forgot to start my stopwatch until a good 10 minutes after we ordered our food, but the parmas arrived before anybody complained, so it mustn’t have been too long of a wait -

My ‘Classic’

Adam’s ‘Aussie’

Stefo’s ‘Hawaiian’

The chicken was real chicken, thick and juicy (although thinning out in some parts), almost zero nude schnitzel with a great coverage of cheese. napoli and ham.

The ham served its purpose and the napoli was plentiful and tasty, however at times there was far too much, overpowering the taste of everything else. Most of the parmas were quite well cooked, however it seemed one or two of them could’ve used a couple more minutes under the grill, as the cheese wasn’t quite the golden brown goodness it could have been.

All in all it was a good effort, very tasty and with just a couple of tweaks it could be a great contender!

The Chips were good old fashioned pub chips, salted and sprinked with what looked like cracked pepper - they had the potential to be quite good however the time they spent under the chicken, and the proximity to the very well dressed salad caused the bottom layer of chips to become a soggy, balsamic vinegar-y mess.

Fortunately there was quite a healthy serving of chips, and the ones one top that escaped the drowning death of their chippy comerades wound up quite tasty, a little undersalted but the salt shaker on the table quicky fixed that.

Opinion on the salad was quite divided - Being a big onion fan I quite liked it, as the the garden salad of Rocket, cucumber, shallots, tomato and onion was extremely onion-heavy. As I mentioned earlier there was a heap of dressing and in my opinion it was quite tasty however some reviewers thought the constant insistance of rocket over real lettuce was a big let down, and to be honest I’m inclined to agree.

Now for something a little different! Rather than just listening to me go on and on about what I thought of the parma, Last night each reviewer in attendance received a score sheet with a ‘comments’ section, allowing them to voice their opinion! hopefully this will be a regular feature on Parma Daze as sometimes I don’t get the full spectrum of opinions from my parma compatriots!

Napoli overload seems to be a pretty common opinion. The quotes seem to have come off a tad negative so I will say this - its a damn fine parma! and at only $15 with a free pot its fantastic value, and with the option of novelty parmas it makes an all round great deal.

On a regular night the parma rings in at $19.90, which isn’t too bad, The Mexican parma is still an option on the menu on regular nights however that option rings in at $22, now thats a little too expensive in my opinion, especially since the ham is removed from the mexican option.

Overall a very decent parma with some minor issues which are very easy to overlook when it has a $15 price tag and a free pot thrown in for good measure - would definitely have again!

Parma - 7.42
Chips - 6.67
Salad - 4.50
Value - 8.08
Total - 6.82

The search continues…

Local on Urbanspoon

Attempt #69 - 'The Long Road'

 

So! The bar is relatively new, there are no photos online and it was too dark by the time we arrived to take our own photo! Google street view is normally my backup but it still has the location as the business it was before the bar opened - so until I can get a proper picture, this blurry placeholder will have to do!

[info]

When? - 22nd of September, 2011

Where? - The Long Road, 338b Keilor Rd, Niddrie

Price? – $16

Barry? - No

Website? - twitter.com/longroadbar

Reviewers – Cale, Grace, Lee, Luke, Ness, Nikki, Stefo, Tony Q[/info]

Those who live in the Essendon/Niddrie area will know that pickings are rather slim when it comes to bars on Keilor Road, Apart from The Lincolnshire Arms on the corner there is veritably no place on the entire shopping strip to wet one’s whistle.

The Long Road is a brand newcomer to the area, I noticed it opening up about 6 months ago but never really took an interest, thinking it nothing more than one of the many cafe’s that dot the street, It wasn’t until I was on Urbanspoon one evening looking for a place to grab some dinner that I noticed that it is listed on there as a ‘Sports Bar’.

My interest was piqued, I checked the menu to make sure they had a parma, and we headed down to visit the Keilor Road newbie - The Long Road. (Why it is called ‘The Long Road’ I am unsure, perhaps the owners are massive Nickelback fans)

We arrived at the Long Road and took our seats, They have a pretty basic setup but it does the job nicely, The folding glass foors along the front of the building opens the place up on a warm summer eve and the wood fire towards the back would keep you toasty warm on a cold winter one, Its basic, but has a good atmosphere.

We ordered our chickeny delights and awaited their arrival - The two LCD screens that I assume are normally there to show sports (hence ‘sports bar’) were running an episode of ‘Fear Factor’ instead - entertaining, yet watching Joe Rogan serve a 19 year old college student blended sheeps brain and horse testicle isn’t exactly ideal dinner entertainment.

Before too long our parmas arrived…

Everything about this parma screams home made, from the hand crumbed real chicken breast, to the home made napoli on top. The chicken was succulent, the crumbs were spot on and the ham was top quality without overpowering the meal. My only criticisms to this parma would be that mine was a tad overcooked (you can see the burnt patches in the above picture) They were a little light on cheese and the napoli, despite being home made, fresh and delicious, could be a bit watery (or ‘soupy’) at times, however these are only minor hiccups in an all around tasty meal!

The chips were standard pub chips, well cooked and a decent serving, however they didn’t really wow any of us, they were unseasoned and lacked any solid flavour, nothing bad, but at the same time they didn’t really stand out either.

The salad was a disappointment, It was a tiny garden salad of lettuce, onion, capsicum and tomato. It’s not that it was bad, there was purely nothing of it, after one forkfull it was all but gone and it was rather apparent that it was just there for show

I was impressed by the Long Road, calling it a ‘sports bar’ might be a bit of a stretch, but the atmosphere is great and the outdoor seating on busy Keilor road would be a great spot for a beer and a people watch on a warm Sunday afternoon.

The parma itself was great, the chicken breast was top quality and you can tell a lot of effort went into its creation and if not for a couple of minor glitches it would be top rung. The sides however let this parma down big time - if just a bit more attention was paid them them it would be a winner, but if you are after a quality meal at a very reasonable price ($16) then The Long Road is definitely worth checking out, I’ll certainly be going back for another in the near future.

Parma - 7.00
Chips - 5.06
Salad - 4.38
Value - 6.75
Total - 6.04

The search continues…

The Long Road Bar and Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Attempt #67 'Hog's Breath Cafe'

[info]

When? - 8th of September, 2011

Where? - Hog’s Breath Cafe. Watergardens Shopping Center. 203/399 Melton Highway, Taylors Lakes

Price? – $21.95 (‘lite serve’ option $17.95)

Barry? - No

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

Reviewers – Lee & Nikki[/info]

 

Ever since Reviewer Stefo sent his review from London, I have been on the hunt for a pub that serves a parma with curly fries - A task I first thought would be easy, but quickly realised it harder than I thought. It took me a few weeks but eventually I stumbled on it - The Hog’s Breath Cafe.

Now I’m sure you have all heard of Hog’s Breath - I just did a quick count of their website and they are sitting at about seventy locations around Australia, They are all the same, sharing an identical menu, so I think its pretty much safe to assume that the parma at the hogs breath we attended (at the Watergardens Shopping center, Taylors Lakes) will be pretty much identical to what you would get at any of their 70 hogs-tacular locations.

We rocked up at the Hogs Breath just before seven on a Thursday and I was surprised at how busy it was already, the place was pumping. If you haven’t been to a hogs breath cafe before I’ll try to describe it … If you picture any stereotypical American family restaurant you are pretty much there - if you think ‘Shenanigans’ from the movie “Waiting” then you are spot on. Heaps of crazy crap on the walls, road signs, animal heads, lawn bowls, its very bright and kid friendly. I felt very odd ordering a beer with my meal, it was like having a pint at McDonalds.

A little game for you if you find yourself at Hog’s breath - Look anywhere, Left, Right, Up, Down, Behind you … anywhere and if you can’t see the words ‘HOG’S BREATH CAFE’ in your field of vision, you win (protip - you can’t win)

The menu is huge, heaps of options for pretty much whatever you can think of, its all very American - we started off with a basket of Mozzarella sticks (aka ‘deep fried cheese’… hello heart attack) which were actually pretty tasty with the ranch dressing. After a bit of searching I managed to find the Chicken Parma on the menu - they squirreled it away in the corner of a page pretty far back in the menu, it took some effort to find, but its there, available in a regular or ‘lite’ serve for a few bucks cheaper. After you order be prepared for an onslaught of questions about extras, the waitress pumped about 10 different options for sides, extras or sauces to accompany our meal, we stuck to the basics and didn’t order any.

After a slight wait and a hearty rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ to the kids at the table next to us from the staff, our parmas arrived.

First of all, there was a lot of napoli … and not much else.

A little digging showed that the Hog’s Breath ‘parma’ was actually two pieces of chicken (about ‘KFC boneless fillet’ sized), covered in napoli and sprinkled with some shaved parmesan cheese - I mentioned that the place was very Americanised, but I have a feeling someone took the American pronunciation of ‘Chicken Parmesan’ a little too far, I have had Parmas in America on several occasions, and even they were closer to a parma than the Hogs breath (with the exception of the one at Universal Studios)

So, even though we were missing ham and melted cheese, we pressed on, I seperated the two chicken fillets to give a better picture of what was served -

I am yet to confirm this, but I would have to assume that the ‘lite serve’ available for $17.95 would have to be a single fillet as opposed to two of them. If that is true, its a bad deal and way overpriced… dont take the lite option)

To be honest, once I got over the lack of topping, the chicken actually tasted decent - It wasn’t a parma by any means, but whatever this frankenstein’s monster of a dish was, it actually tasted okay. The chicken fillets were of decent quality, possibly a little dry at times, but well cooked and fresh. We’ve had worse, is what I’m trying to say I suppose.

The curly fries were great as expected - the hunt was worth it as Hogs Breath have their signature ‘Hogs Tail fries’ to an art, perfectly seasoned and cooked, I just wish there were more of them! If the meals weren’t as expensive as they were I’d consider ordering a side of curly fries to accompany my meal.

The salad was surprising - it was pretty good. A pretty big garden salad of Lettuce, onion, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, carrot, kidney beans and balsamic dressing - It was a very decent accompaniment to the meal

The Hog’s Breath serves up a Chicken Parmesan. It is not a chicken parma, they should change the menu. Pubs can get away with leaving the ham off the parma and still calling it such, but when you also leave out melted cheese you are one ingredient short of being classed a parma. Sure the chicken actually tasted okay and the napoli, although over-abundant was pretty tasty. But it just wasn’t a parma, plain and simple.

If you find yourself at Hogs Breath, as much as it pains me to say, try and avoid the ‘Parma’ - Its a big menu and I’m sure you’ll find something much better. The sides were good, love the curly fries and the salad was solid, but those same sides also come with pretty much everything else on the menu, so best to opt for those in my opinion. As for Value, its pretty expensive - $21.95 for two KFC fillets and some napoli just isn’t on, and I’ve got a feeling the ‘lite serve’ is to be avoided at all costs.

Also, they have T-shirts.

Parma - 3.00
Chips - 7.5
Salad - 6.25
Value - 5.00
Total - 4.95

The search continues…

Hog's Breath Cafe on Urbanspoon

Attempt #66 - 'Palookaville'

[info]

When? - 1st of September, 2011

Where? - Palookaville. 416 Brunswick St. Fitzroy

Price? – $14 (all mains on the menu $14)

Barry? - No

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

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

**EDIT** It is my sad duty to report that Palookaville has closed its doors and the parma-ish is no longer available. So long, Palookaville!

My reasons for selecting Palookaville for this weeks attempt were completely selfish, A pub called ‘Mana Bar’ has recently opened up in Brunswick street and I wanted to check it out, they don’t have a parma on the menu so the next best thing was to find a parma close to Mana Bar and wander down afterwards for post-parma drinks. Horribly self centered, I know, but they have freakin’ video games at Mana Bar … that is too awesome for words!

As soon as I heard the name of this pub my interest was piqued, To me Palookaville was the name of the fantastic Fatboy Slim album, or to a lesser extent that movie released in the nineties of the same name - It had never occurred to me to look into what Palookaville actually meant, Luckily the pubs website had me sorted.

“A word originating in the U.S. in the 1920’s meaning a stupid or oafish person, Based on the American comic book character Joe Palooka a Boxer over time evolving into a term of endearment as a simple but lovable character. The word Palookaville is an extension of this slang to refer to a place of simple people or simple principles.”

I was sold, the menu confirmed they had a parma… sort of (ill get to that in a minute) So we headed to Brunswick street for our dinner.

Before I arrived I was expecting Palookaville to be a small boutique bar, with a few bar stools and some tables, and from the outside it looks how I had imagined… how wrong I was! Once inside Palookaville opens up into a massive space, with pool tables, couches, heaps of seating for dining and one of the longest bars I have seen in awhile, Even though its big inside it retains a cozy atmosphere, and the super friendly bar staff were the icing on the cake - this was a good pub.

We looked at their menu, all the mains are $14, which makes things easy - not that we really looked at the other options. Here’s where it gets interesting though, the chicken parma on the menu isn’t called a chicken parma - its advertised as a “Chicken Parma-ish

That little ‘ish’ is very important to the Palookaville parma, and you’ll see why when they arrived, we placed our orders and claimed a spot around a table on some very comfy couches, after a short wait our parmas arrived.

Different is an understatement! I was a little scared of the ‘ish’ when it arrived, I had never seen a parma served the way it was, I’ll break it down for you.

First of all the chicken schnitzel was pure, juicy chicken breast, obviously hand made and crumbed with spices reminiscent of the KFC 11 secret herbs and spices - watch out Colonel, I think Palookaville may have cracked your secret!

The schnitz was topped with mozzarella and pancetta, then in place of napoli there was a fresh tomato and onion salsa, think the topping you would find on a bruschetta, All topped with some oiled rocket and a massive slice of freshly shaved parmesan.

It was different, but different in the best way, The pancetta was delicious and the salsa was delightful - Palookaville has taken the parma and given it a twist, As someone who eats parmas on a weekly basis its nice to be surprised, and I was definitely surprised by Palookaville’s Parma-ish.

The chips aren’t really visible in the picture so I deconstructed the tower of parma and took another picture so you can take a look.

The chips were hand cut, house made beauties, We commented when we first got to them that it didn’t look like there were that many, however these chips were damn filling, actually calling them chips is a bit of a misnomer, think of them as sliced strips of roast potato, beautifully seasoned, and like the rest of the Palookaville parma, different in a good way.

Now the salad, basically… there wasn’t one, there were some slivers of rocket on the top of the parma and other than the massive slice of parmesan cheese, thats pretty much it. So we made an executive decision and invoked the ‘You don’t win friends with salad’ rule, set forth in our review of the James Squire, in accordance with the rule, the salad gets a flat 5 down the board, So the lack of salad will not downgrade the score - but it will not improve it either.

The Palookaville parma was a breath of fresh air, A welcome twist on the norm, I’m not saying this is how all parmas should be done - the classic parma is just that - a classic. However its nice to change things up once in awhile, (much like our review of The Napier, with Kangaroo in place of ham) and coming in at just $14 the parma-ish gets points for value, I’d be more than happy to revisit Palookaville for another.

And yes, We did go to Mana Bar afterwards and it was just as awesome as I had expected, except that I dropped my beer while playing Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 and everyone laughed at me … embarrassing.

Parma - 8.1
Chips - 8.7
Salad - 5
Value - 9.20
Total - 7.82

The search continues…

Palookaville on Urbanspoon

Attempt #65 - 'The Spread Eagle Hotel'

[info]

When? - 25th of August, 2011

Where? - The Spread Eagle Hotel. 372 Bridge Rd, Richmond

Price? – $19 ($12 ‘Spready parma fest’ Sunday, Monday & Tuesday)

Barry? - No

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

Reviewers – Adam, Dale, Grace, Lee, Nikki, Pat, Stefo, Tony[/info]

 

So early last week I was looking at our map and I noticed that we had a pretty sizable gap in the Richmond/Toorak/Hawthorn area, this just wouldn’t do! So I sent out a call on Facebook and Twitter, asking for suggestions of pubs to hit in that area, we had a few suggestions come back, but the one name that stuck out to us was the Spread Eagle Hotel (mostly because the 16 year old boys sprang to life inside us and had a giggle at ‘spread eagle’). We loaded up the parma bus and headed to Bridge road to see what the Spread Eagle had to offer (teehee)

Parking was a bit of a problem when we arrived and we had to leave the car er..um bus a good 500m down Bridge rd and walk down, this turned out good as it afforded us the opportunity to notice that a lot of the pubs/restaurants in the area were advertising some kind of parma special, Which is fantastic for us as, classically, competition would drive up the quality of the parma. We were practically salivating when we took our seats and placed our orders.

I should mention that the parma at the Spready has the option of Chips and Salad or Veggies and Mash, everyone at the table opted for the chips and salad option, Some bake at home rolls came out of the kitchen after we took our seat, a very nice touch.

Oh before I go on I should mention that Reviewer Stefo has returned from his 3 month trip to London, he re-joined our group at the Spread Eagle and its great to have him back.

The Spread Eagle is a fantastically renovated pub, it has obviously had some work done, yet it retains its old-world charm perfectly, a great little spot I’d like to call my local, if i lived anywhere near it, It’s also worth mentioning that we were there on ‘locals night’ offering $2 off all wine by the glass and $3 pots of Carlton.

Before long, three parmas were trotted out of the kitchen, which would be fantastic, If we hadn’t ordered eight of them. After a ten minute wait another two parmas arrived, at this point courtesy went out the window and those of us who got the first round tucked in, leaving the three reviewers who had yet to recieve their food very sullen as we ate, after another twenty minute wait their food arrived and we all breathed a sigh of relief.

Now lets time travel back to when I got my parma, in the first lot that came out

The first thing that struck me about my parma was the black ring around the edge, someone had been in the grill a little too long I think, With a little trepidation I tucked in.

The schnitzel was processed, not too thin, but not winning any awards for thickness either, There was minor nude schnitzel but nothing too offensive, there was plenty of cheese and a very chunky, possibly home made napoli. I wasn’t sure about the inclusion of ham, so with my fork I lifted the cheese and went on a ham hunt, couldn’t find any so I simply assumed the parma didn’t come with any ham - it wasn’t until I got to my last fork-full that I found a piece of ham, I was surprised as I couldn’t taste it at all during the meal.

The chips were smooshed under the parma, standard pub chips that were nothing special - not bad, just not noteworthy.

I thought the salad was a pretty decent side, garden salad with lettuce, onion, tomato, carrot, cabbage and cucumber with a splash of balsamic dressing. Standard garden salad that served us pretty well … that is until Reviewer Grace found an unexpected visitor crawling out from under a leaf of lettuce

Uhhh… Waiter? there’s a fly in my parma.

He was alive, but in his death throes… perhaps he had just committed insecticide *badum*ching*

As far as we noticed, everyone else’s salad was insect free, but it definitely affected the score of the meal

The Spready is a great looking pub in a great spot and definitely worth remembering for a pint of Cider on a Saturday arvo, there is a cozy little beer garden out the back that would be great for a summer evening and the vibe of the pub in general is a positive one. Unfortunately I can’t recommend the parma, at least not at full price, it was bordering on okay but the overcooked edges, the staggered arrival of the meals and the appearance of our winged friend in the salad definitely brought the mood down.

They offer a $12 Parma Sunday, Monday, Tuesday special with a variety of toppings and the like, and even run a trivia comp with their parmas at noon on Sundays - worth checking out if you’re in the area, but I wouldn’t be hurrying back anytime soon

Parma - 5.13
Chips - 5.69
Salad - 3.81
Value - 4.88
Total - 4.93

The search continues…

Spread Eagle Hotel on Urbanspoon

Attempt #64 - 'Turf Bar'

[info]

When? - 18th of August, 2011

Where? - Turf Bar. 131 Queen St, Melbourne

Price? – $19.50 ($15 ‘Parmas of the World’ Wednesday)

Barry? - No, But 2 pool tables and digital tabletop poker & bocce

Website? - http://www.turfbar.com.au/

Reviewers – Adam, Cale, Lee, Matt, Pat, Tony[/info]

This week we visit Turf Bar on Queen st., however we had not intended to visit Turf Bar on Queen st. - All week long we had planned to visit the ‘Lanai Restaurant & Bar’ which is squirreled away within the CQ nightclub.

I had seen someone from CQ post their opinions of someone’s parma on facebook, and was interested to see if they could put their parma where their mouth was - Unfortunately when I called on Wednesday to book a table I was informed that Lanai Restaurant only serves food at Lunchtime, not at dinner - And seeing as we have yet to fulfill our dream of eating chicken parmigiana for a living, our day jobs prevent us from visiting any pubs during the lunch hour.

So! It took a quick googling to discover that the Turf Bar, literally next door to CQ, also offer up the combination of chicken, ham, cheese and napoli that we all know and love. Proximity to CQ was perfect so it didn’t mess with anyones plans at all - I booked the table, we piled into the Parma Bus and headed down.

As soon as I walked into the Turf Bar I was in love, this pub is a gem. First of all, you have to go downstairs to get into the pub, which gives it a massive ‘Cheers’ vibe. Massive bar, heaps of wood everywhere (its a sign of a good pub when they have a lot of wood. And coat hooks. A good pub has lots of coat hooks!) plenty of TV screens running sports, great looking meals coming out of the kitchen (there is a 1kg T-bone steak on the menu for $60, advised to be ordered 24 hours in advance) and the bar girls were amazingly friendly and helpful.

Actually, if you are having trouble picturing the place, think ‘MacLarens’ from How I Met Your Mother and you’re pretty much there. Awesome.

Turf Bar reminds me so much of this pub, but nicer … and with more guys in suits.

Anyway, back to the food.

We grabbed a pint and took our seats in the dining area, There was full table service available for drinks as well as food, but we opted to get our drinks from the bar (it makes it easier when it comes to splitting the bill at the end of the night).

We ordered our parmas and kicked back, Signs posted around the place indicated that we had missed Turf Bar’s $15 ‘Parma’s of the World’ night by 24 hours, so we had regular parmas at $19.50 a pop, not too shabby if the parma is quality.

In fairly short order (I forgot to time it again) our meals arrived.

Looking good so far, it struck me as a little small when it first arrived, but that fear was quickly allayed after I cut into it, the chicken breast was thick and juicy, well crumbed, with some very minor schnitzel nudity - and even then it was only partial nudity, the sideboob of parmas.

Gotta love that sideboob

They weren’t at all tight with the napoli and cheese, the smoked ham was delicious and it spread its flavour throughout the parma giving it a delicious smokey taste. Well cooked, well crumbed, real, unprocessed chicken breast. A fine chicken parma.

I need to start putting a 20c coin or something in the cross section for perspective, it was thicker than it looks in this photo.

The chips were set beside the parma (thank god) and in abundance. They were well seasoned with chicken salt and came with a personal tomato sauce pot on the plate, you may remember from our review of The Exchange that I am a big fan of personal sauce pots. A great touch.

Unfortunately the salad was so/so - A garden salad with Lettuce, onion, tomato cucumber, some mustard seeds and a cream dressing. It was fine as far as garden salads go, and by no means was it bad, just nothing outstanding.

After we finished our food we adjourned to the pool tables for a game before heading out, quite often on parma attempts we just eat and leave, but the Turf was so damn inviting I just didn’t want to go.

Had a few more pints, and there was almost a de-pantsing at the pool tables … almost.

The Turf Bar’s parma was pretty damn good and worth checking out, I’d be happy to pay $19.50 for it again so hitting it on the Wednesday Parma night would be gravy. The pub itself is amazing, I am in love and will definitely be returning in the near future.

On the way out I looked down through the window and saw this room, that I didn’t see from inside the bar -

Doesn’t that look like the cosiest goddamn room you’ve seen in your life?! 

Parma - 7.25
Chips - 7.92
Salad - 5.58
Value - 7.58
Total - 7.12

The search continues…

Turf Bar on Urbanspoon

Attempt #63 - 'The Royal Hotel'

[info]

When? - 11th of August, 2011

Where? - The Royal Hotel, 873 Mt. Alexander Rd, Essendon.

Price? – $15 (in the bar, ‘Parma, Pot n’ Punt’ special)

Barry? - Yes

Website? -  http://www.royalhotel-essendon.com.au/

Reviewers – Cale, Grace, Lee, Nikki, Pat, Tony[/info]

 

To be honest, we picked The Royal this week because it was close, 90% of the Parma Daze review team live around Essendon, and the past few weeks we have done a bit of travelling from our home zone for the attempts. It was nice to hit up a local for a change.

I was researching the menu for the attempt online beforehand (making great use of office hours) and realised we had a dilemma. The Royal offers two parma related meal deals on a Thursday. In the public bar, from Monday - Thursday they have a ‘$15 Parma, Pot n’ Punt’ meal deal, In which $15 gets you a Parma, A pot of beer (or soft drink) and a $3 mystery bet in the TAB. However in the Bistro, Thursday night is ‘Parma-rama’ night, in which $13 buys you a parma with your choice of 7 toppings.

I appreciate your use of our lingo, Royal, but a ‘nude’ parma isn’t a parma… its a schnitzel. kill this from your menu!

It was the ‘Sophie’s Choice’ of parmas, do we opt for the $15 plain parma, with a free pot & mystery bet? or get something from the M selections range (‘It’s a little bit fancy’) for $13. After much soul searching we decided to keep it simple, have our parmas in the bar and go for the $15 Parma, Pot n’ Punt.

The Bistro was pretty darn busy when we arrived, however the bar was quiet, I guess the people of Essendon prefer their parmigianas with a little flair. We grabbed a table and placed our order. There’s plenty to do to keep you entertained at The Royal bar, with a Barry machine, juke box, pool table and TAB attached (and pokies around the corner if you are so inclined).

We placed our orders, grabbed a drink, and returned to our seats, I headed into the TAB to pick up the myst…

…ery bet that came with the meal. Wait. what just happened? That parma is there far too early. Yet that is pretty much the exact timeline from ordering the food to the parma’s arrival - I kid you not the kitchen at the Royal pumped out 6 chicken parmigianas in no more than five minutes, if you do the math on that thats more than one parma per minute. I’m all for a quick meal but when a parma comes out that quick its a little concerning.

From outside appearances the parma looked okay, with great trepidation we picked up the cutlery and dove in. We all lost on our mystery bets, in case you were wondering… a good bit of fun though.

The chicken was okay, definitely processed, and judging from the speed they came out they would have to be pre-cooked, but okay none the less. It was a real ‘luck of the draw’ situation as a few reviewers got some rather unhealthy looking birds (a few grey spots in the chick) and others got a fairly decent slice, There was minimal nude schnitzel and plenty of ham, cheese and napoli, however they must’ve left the taste in the kitchen as the parma came off rather bland, crumb/chicken ratio was okay but not fantastic. I was freaking starving so I put it away without an issue, It was passable, but forgettable.

Now before the attempt I was told by a few friends that I had to ‘order the beer battered chips on the side, they’re so much better than the regular chips’. It’s no secret that I am a sucker for a good beer battered chip, however when I tried to make the order at the bar I was told that the beer battered chips have been taken off the menu, so we were stuck with the regulars.

Much like the parma itself, the chips weren’t bad, but they were forgettable, standard plank chips with minimal (if any) seasoning, They were well cooked and I was happy with them, however the serving was tiny, only a handful of chips accompanied the parma and they were gone almost as soon as they began.

The salad was… (sounding like a broken record here) standard and forgettable. Lettuce, cucumber, tomato, carrot and a smidge of onion, it was rather dry on the dressing. At one point Reviewer Pat pulled an odd face, looked at me in horror and said ‘I just got a really bad tasting piece of lettuce’. I can’t say I’ve ever had lettuce taste so bad I’ve had to comment on it, but I figured it was worth a mention.

After the meal we finished off our attempt with a game of Barry (or ‘Game On’ as its called now, pfft) Freakin Deal or no Deal is a cheating bastard.

I’m a little torn in summing up The Royal’s parma. Its not great, but the Monday - Thursday ‘Parma, Pot n Punt’ deal is good value as long as you understand what you are paying for. If you’re after a cheap & nasty (and lightning fast) parma to accompany your after work beers then this is definitely the place for you, and the $3 Mystery Bet is a good novelty to chuck in to kill the 60 seconds between the ordering and arrival of your parma.

Parma - 5.08
Chips - 4.33
Salad - 4.33
Value - 7.17
Total - 5.20

The search continues…

The Royal Hotel on Urbanspoon