A freelance writer from the country, living in Melbourne.
Published May 31st 2014
Come for the parmas, stay for the beer
The ubiquitous parma isn't something I indulge in often; don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't love a good parmigiana as much as the next person, but it's the fact that I find myself so frequently disappointed with soggy chips, processed chicken-mush or a plethora of other let-downs, including, but not limited to, oil-slick cheese skin or a Napoli sauce reminiscent of home brand salsa.
Fortunately, Mrs. Parmas did not let me down in any of these departments. As the name suggests, this bar turned parma-centric bistro specialises solely in the mighty parmigiana, with several fantastic variants on the original available.
The Mrs Parmas menu - there are some non-parma options too!
Before I delve into the nitty gritty of delicious detail, I must note that I have it on good authority that this establishment was, in a previous life - a replica bar of the 'Cheers' bar, as seen in the 80's television show of the same name. Whether there is any truth to that information, the resemblance is certainly uncanny.
Everyone immensely enjoyed their parmas, and having tried a few bites of some of the different offerings, I honestly couldn't choose a favourite! All came with perfectly blistered mozzarella cheese, a house-made napoli sauce, and a tender and expertly crumbed schnitzel. Definitely something to suit every taste here!
Although everyone I dined with elected to go for the classic chicken option, Mrs Parmas also offers a veal schnitzel, and an eggplant schnitzel. They are also happy to abide any requests for gluten free meals - coeliacs rejoice!
Unfortunately for this review, there were only a few beer drinkers amongst us the evening we dined at Mrs. Parmas, as this establishment is as much about the Victorian craft micro-breweries as it is the parmas.
There was a vast selection of Victorian-made beers both on a tab and in bottle form, and also some delicious ciders! We tried the Red Dirt - 'Red ale', which was a richly dense, full-bodied ale - certainly something different! The Beechworth pale ale was a light and refreshing beer with some vague honey undertones, and the Napoleone Apple Cider was enjoyed by everyone, a refreshingly crisp cloudy cider without the saccharin undertones that have become all too common in Melbourne's cider scene. Definitely a must-see destination for the micro-brewery lovers out there!
Some of the small criticisms I have of Mrs Parmas, although they certainly wouldn't stop me from returning (I'm already planning my next parma adventure!) would be that the communal chips and salad are a great idea - you don't get a case of soggy chips from your parma roosting atop them, however the quantity was an issue. We had two of each of these bowls of salad and chips for our table of 8, and it equated to around 6 chips per person.
Honestly, the parmas were quite sizeable, so it wasn't an issue - but upon seeing tables of two dining with the same amount of chips and salad that our table shared between four, it was a little annoying.
My only other minor qualm is the table service - Mrs Parmas is primarily a bar, so I do appreciate that one shouldn't come expecting silver service, but I found both waitresses we had that evening a little surly. You are also only able to order drinks from the bar, although it's table service for all the food. I wouldn't let either of these issues turn you off trying the place out, but it's more of a 'night out with the lads' kind of atmosphere than what I was expecting.
In 10 words or less: Parmalicious city bar/dining. Worth it.