Don Bradman. Uluru. Sydney Harbour Bridge. The MCG. All Aussie icons, but are any as loved as a chicken parma washed down with beer? There’s no better place to pose the question than at Mrs Parma’s. Since opening at the end of 2006, it’s been dedicated to great pub grub, Victorian craft beer and, of course, the best variety of parmas in the land – right in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD.
The idea to build an entire enterprise around the classic Aussie pub pairing belongs to friends and fellow chefs Fiona and Melissa. Both had backgrounds in fine dining but shared a soft spot for flavoursome beer and a desire to bring the standards of good restaurants to traditional pub fare. Now you’ll find ten or more different parmas on the menu – from the traditional with double smoked ham, Napoli and cheese, through Moroccan Meatball to the epic Parma'geddon, Melbourne’s hottest parma made with a special chilli recipe that takes three days to prepare – plus other bistro classics. There are regular special parmas showcased throughout the year, not least during Good Beer Week when there is usually one themed with the beers on tap.
Lovers of Australian craft beer are equally spoilt. Victorian brews feature across the ten taps, some of which are on constant rotation and usually reserved for exclusive or extremely limited run beers that disappear fast. The girls also invite brewers along for talks and tastings and are regulars at public events and showcases.
In 2014, they added another string to their bow too by installing their own tank at Cavalier's brewery in Melbourne's West. They use it to create a handful of beers a year, beer styles that they can't easily get their hands on, that they believe will complement their food and that you can only sample at Mrs Parma's itself.
Great beer and the Art of Parmology – so Aussie it deserves a Slim Dusty song.