2018: Brisbane’s Best Parma redux!

2015 was the year of the Parma with the Chicken Parmigiana of Brisbane Brewing Company winning the title of Brisbane’s Best. In the two years since, whilst I have not eaten a chicken parma every week, I have still had a number of excellent (and not so excellent) parmas at the pubs around Brisbane and further afield.

With the effluxion of time it has become clear to me that there are many more parmas out there for me to test so in 2018 I will again be searching for and reviewing the chicken parmigiana around Brisbane. I will also be revisiting some of the previous venues I have tested which were both good and bad to see whether their offerings are up to the same standard as the first time.

I am also interested in chicken parmigianas that readers have reviewed. The most regular comments I have received since the completion of the search in 2015 have been, on the one hand, “I went to that place you recommended and …” and, on the other hand, “You really have to try … , it was excellent / rubbish!”. So if you have had a chicken parmigiana and you would like to see you review published you can email it to me (stephen@thatparmaguy.com) and I will post it here.

Readers can also expect to see more reviews of venues around the country and their attempts at chicken parmagianas.

Thank you continuing to read the blog and I look forward to bringing you more reviews and commentary about Brisbane’s Best Parma as the year goes on!

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And the winner is …

After 50 parmas in 50 weeks and then the parma finals this week the decision as to which parma wins the “Robert” Parma award actually is an easy one.  That is because there has been one chicken parmigiana that has been head and shoulders above the rest and that is the chicken parmigiana at the Brisbane Brewing Company.

 The parma finals only served to confirm this because, and I did not believe they could achieve this, the chicken parmigiana served by the Brisbane Brewing Company in the finals was an improvement on their offering the first time around.  Conversely, the Calamvale Hotel parma had had a change in sauce to a salsa which did not improve it and the Flying Cock was closed on finals day.

So, that announcement having been made, here are the awards arising from the search for Brisbane’s Best Parma:

“Robert” Parma (Brisbane’s Best)Brisbane Brewing Company

“Laura” Parma (Brisbane’s Worst): Everton Park Hotel

“Clive” Parma (Brisbane’s Biggest): The Wickham


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The Parma Finals: The Schedule

So now there are three Parmas in the running for Brisbane’s Best Parma and they are all in the mix for the “Robert” Parma.  After a random draw here is the order in which I will be re-testing the top 3 parmas I have tested this year:

Parma Final The Schedule

I will not be writing a further review of each of these re-tests.  Watch out for the final blog of the year of Parmas on 24 December along with all of the awards!

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Parma Ladder: The Rankings

What a journey it has been: 50 chicken parmas in 50 weeks in the search for Brisbane’s Best.  After those 50 parmas here is the final Parma Ladder for the year:

Parma Ladder final

As I wrote yesterday, I have decided to hold a “Parma Final” in which I test the top 3 Parmas on the Parma Ladder.  I will post the schedule for the “Parma Final” tomorrow in advance of kicking it off on Monday.

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The Parma Finals … and then there were three!

I have been asked a lot over the last couple of weeks when I would be announcing the winner of the “Robert” Parma and how I would be doing that.

I have been giving this a lot of thought of late and, in consultation with the Parma Consigliere, have come up with the Parma Finals.  The fact is that this has been a long process and the time between the really great Parmas I have tried has been long.

So, that being the case, I have decided to re-test the best three Parmas so far in a winner takes all final test for the “Robert” Parma award.

I will post the final list of ranked Parmas from 1 through 50 tomorrow morning.  After that I will lock in the schedule for the Parma Finals (Monday through Wednesday next week) and then still announce which Parma I consider to be Brisbane’s Best on 24 December 2015.

Bring on the Parma Finals!!!!!

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Parma Number 50: Ferny Grove Tavern … the Final Frontier!

The Verdict: This week’s parma is the final chicken parmigiana in my test sample of fifty this year.  The Ferny Grove Tavern chicken parmigiana had the look and the taste at the beginning of a pretty good parma however it was let down by some quite undercooked sections of the chicken piece. 

Parma Pic:


Chicken Piece: When I started eating the chicken portion of this meal I was really quite impressed: the chicken tasted great and the crumb was crisp.  Unfortunately as I made my way through the chicken piece I found about a third of it to be undercooked in that it was cold and the crumb was soft.  This was the principal disappointment of this meal.

Tomato Sauce: I really enjoyed the tomato sauce on the FGT parma.  It tasted great.  Disappointingly whilst the sauce tasted great it did not cover the whole of the chicken piece.

Ham: The ham was another great element of this dish.  That said it suffered from both of the problems that the chicken piece and the tomato sauce had in that, on the one hand, it did not cover the chicken piece and, on the other hand, it was undercooked in sections.

Cheese: The cheese was the hero of this dish.  It was well melted and tasted great.  Unfortunately it is also did not cover the whole of the chicken piece.

Side Dishes: Both side dishes were pretty good on the FGT chicken parmigiana.  The chips were well cooked, crispy and had been well salted.  The salad was plentiful and had been dressed well.

Presentation: It wouldn’t be the last chicken parma of this quest for there not to be a problem with the placement of the elements on the plate.  The chicken portion of the meal was on top of a large portion of the chips.

The Venue: The Ferny Grove Tavern is on Samford Road in Ferny Grove right next to the Ferny Grove train station.  It is a large tavern with plentiful parking options.  It has a large bistro are with kids play room and an extensive menu. My parma cost $22.

The Final Word: The Ferny Grove Tavern chicken parmigiana had the potential to be really really good and on another day when the chicken piece had been properly cooked it might have challenged the top 5 in the race for the “Robert” Parma.  Unfortunately an undercooked piece of chicken meant this meal was major disappointment!



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Interview on ABC Drive with William McInnes: Parma on the national broadcaster

It was an amazing day in the land of Parma today with me being interviewed on the 612 ABC Drive program with William McInnes.

A link to the full show this afternoon is here: https://radio.abc.net.au/programitem/peOwLeVoND?play=true

My interview is in from around the 8 minute mark through the 20 minute mark.  I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed being a part of it.

A shortened version with just my interview, I understand, will be available on the ABC website shortly: I will also post it here when it goes live.

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Parma Number 49: The Stafford Tavern … Slip sliding away!

The Verdict: When this chicken parmigiana came out my first impression was that it was “why is the sauce on top of the cheese”. Sadly things did not improve from there with the bulk of the cheese and sauce sliding off the chicken piece due to the angle it was presented on the plate. 

Parma Pic:

Chicken Piece: This was a very large chicken piece that had been well crumbed and was cooked well.  I can not fault this aspect of the dish.

Tomato Sauce: The tomato sauce was placed on top of the chicken piece, ham and cheese almost as an afterthought and then proceeded to slide off the chicken when I cut into it.  If it had have tasted ok I could have forgiven these aesthetic problems but unfortunately it was also a bit bland.

Ham: Whilst the ham on the Stafford Tavern Parma tasted great there was just not enough of it.  It did not cover the chicken piece and left me wanting more!

Cheese: Gravity was not the cheese’s friend given that most of it ended up off the chicken piece on the edge of the plate with the tomato sauce.  I sense though that even if this hadn’t have been a problem there would never have been enough of it.

Side dishes: The salad on this dish was its hero but with a massive caveat.  The fact is I love capsicum and onion and this salad was probably 50% those elements so if you do not love these flavours this salad may be problematic for you.  The chips were obviously from the bain marie rather than freshly cooked and were a bit bland.

Presentation: I think you know what I am going to say already but I will say it anyway … The chicken portion of the dish was placed at a jaunty, meal deconstructing angle over the chips.  It simply did not fit well on the plate.

The Venue: The Stafford Tavern is a large hotel in the suburb which gives it its name.  There is a large TAB facility on site and car parking is plentiful.  My chicken parmigiana  was $17.  I should mention the compliment garlic bread which came with our meals which was excellent.

The Final Word: This was a pretty disappointing chicken parmigiana to be honest.  Aesthetically it was less than pleasing and lack of quality in the some key elements also let it down.

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Parma Number 48: Oxford 152

The Verdict: There were some very good elements of the Oxford 152 chicken parmigiana however it was let down by its side dishes.  Cold chips and a bland salad undid all of the excellence that came from the chicken elements of the dish. 

Parma Pic: 


Chicken Piece: The chicken piece of the Oxford 152 chicken parmigiana was very good.  It had been well crumbed and cooked perfectly.  It tasted great.

Tomato Sauce: As good as the chicken piece was the real hero of this dish was the tomato sauce.  It was one of the best sauces I have had on my search for Brisbane’s Best Parma.  Enough said.

Ham: The ham was the weakest part of this aspect of this dish.  It was quite a thin piece of ham that did not cover the chicken piece.  Taste wise it was overpowered by the chicken, sauce and cheese.

Cheese: The only weak link of the cheese on this dish was that it did not cover the chicken piece fully.  On the positive side it was well melted and tasted great.

Side dishes: Unfortunately both aspects of the side dishes were quite weak.  The chips, or better put shoestring fries, were cold.  I suspect they were not fresh or had been sitting in a hot bay for some time before being plated.  The salad was quite bland and could not be saved by the dressing which was quite nice.

The Venue: Oxford 152 is on Oxford Street in Bulimba in the inner east of Brisbane.  It has a large bar area coupled with a formal (ish) restaurant area with a diverse menu.  My chicken parmigiana cost $23.

The Final Word: This was a pretty good chicken parmigiana that was let down by the ordinariness of the side dishes and wafer thin piece of ham which is a shame because the other aspects of the meal were really very good. 

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Parma Number 47: The Criterion Tavern … when 4 bites of chicken was too much!

The Verdict: I can not recall ever during the last 46 parma tests not finishing the chicken piece that forms part of the meal.  That changed at the Criterion Tavern with parma number 47.  The other elements of this dish were actually quite good however the chicken piece, I am sad to say, tasted terrible.  So much so I found myself peeling off the ham, cheese and tomato sauce to imbibe them separately. Enough said.  

Parma Pic: 


Chicken Piece: The title of this post speaks for itself.  I could only get through four bites of the chicken piece.  I confess that I have never tasted anything like the Criterion’s chicken piece.  I do know it did not taste like any chicken I have ever eaten.  I will leave it at that.

Tomato Sauce: The tomato sauce on this dish was actually quite nice.  It covered the chicken piece well and tasted great.  It combined with the cheese and ham well.

Ham: I originally thought that the problem with my meal, which ended up being with the chicken, was the ham.  How wrong I was!  Once I separated the ham from the chicken piece I found it to be excellent.  It covered the chicken piece well and tasted great (yes I know I am repeating myself).

Cheese: This was another element of the Criterion chicken parmigiana that was really quite good.  There could have been a touch more of the cheese on the chicken piece but it was well melted and complimented the ham and sauce well.

Side Dishes: The Criterion does not offer a set menu for the side dishes for its chicken parmigiana and that meant I got to choose between salad and coleslaw.  I went with the coleslaw and I found it be very nice.  It was crunchy and fresh.  The chips had been well cooked and tasted great.  My only criticism of the chips would be that they needed more salt.

Presentation: This meal was presented quite well.  The chips and salad were in their own bowls and the chicken piece was not on top of any of the elements.

The Venue: The Criterion Tavern is on the corner of George Street and Adelaide Street in the Brisbane CBD.  It is a largish bar with a good range of beers on tap and well appointed TAB area.  My chicken parma cost $16.50.

The Final Word: This chicken parmigiana had many excellent elements and if the chicken piece had have been close to the mark it would been in the top ten of the parmas I have tried thus far.  The chicken, not wanting to belabor the point, did not taste like any chicken I have had before.  

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