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Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Gasometer VIII

11/11/2013: We're sad to report the closure of our beloved Gasometer.

May 27, 2012

When The Gasometer announced recently that their winter menu was stepping away from their US diner-style junk-food shtick and into Eastern European territory there were concerned murmuring across the internet. Where would people get vegan chicken and waffles or corn-dogs now? What kind of weird mock-meat concoctions were the Gaso peeps going to come up with? Pierogi? Goulash? Who knew? Well, we decided to investigate.

While we were cautious about their winter menu, there's no doubting the Gasometer's friendliness as a winter pub - it's all dark and moody with a couple of (gas-powered) wood-fires giving everything the appropriate atmosphere. 

So, to the menu. There are five vegan mains - pastrami burger, winter strudel, mushroom schnitzel, beef stew and a broccoli and spinach pancake - along with a similar number of vegan or vegan-optional starters (e.g. borscht, cabbage rolls... but no vegan dumplings!). Cindy and I arrived ahead of our dining companions and, having resisted ordering chips at Women of Letters all afternoon, rewarded ourselves with a pre-dinner snack of cheese-stuffed mamaliga fritters, crispy golden polenta-based fritters stuffed with goats chevre and served with ajvar ($12).

I was incredibly hungry, so these were always going to go down well, but I think they were actually excellent. The shells were super crispy, hiding a creamy and slightly salty cheese filling that worked well with the sweet and piquant relish. I had pressed hard for an order of chips here, but our adventurousness paid off. 

One of the ways Cindy had convinced me not to order chips as a starter was by promising to order a main that came with chips on the side. The new Gasometer menu has just one main that fits the bill: the grilled pastrami burger (grilled pastrami topped with vegan goats cheese, pickles and grilled onions, served with slaw and finished with beetroot relish and a side of fries, $17).

This was probably the hit of the night - the mock-pastrami was delicious and the trimmings were excellent - a good mix of spiciness and salty pickleness (pickly saltiness?). And the chips remain top-notch. At $17 this isn't a cheap burger, but it's pretty reasonable value for money - you're getting house-made mock-meat, thoughtful and well-prepared accompaniments and a truckload of food. It compares very well with the prices at The Cornish Arms for example.

I went for an appropriately wintry main: the gluten-free shabbat stew - tender slices of vegan beef, slowly cooked with winter root vegetables, white beans and puy lentils, served on a bed of leek and zucchini rice pilaf and topped with a dollop of white bean and dill aioli ($18).


This was exactly as hearty as it sounds - rich and hefty with protein and veggies galore. The sauce was a little bit spicy and quite rich, and went well with the leek and zucchini rice. Nothing too fancy here, just a big plate of warming comfort food for the grim Melbourne nights. Good stuff.

The fact that the dessert menu included a vegan and gluten-free cheesecake was enough to convince us to take on a third course. And we were both repelled and intrigued by the prospect of $16 cheesecake. Were we going to get a whole cake each? 

Sadly no. It turns out that $16 only buys you a slice of vegan cheesecake these days (this is an area where the Cornish Arms wins the battle of the value-for-money vegan pub-food). To be fair to the Gasometer, this was a particularly fancy vegan cheesecake. As the menu said: a creamy cheesecake with a hint of lemon, served with a salted caramel sauce. And it was excellent. Really, really excellent. But as Cindy pointed out - $16 almost gets you a dessert at Cutler and Co. It's such a lot of money for something that I reckon Cindy could probably whip up at home fairly successfully. Still, if you've got money to burn or people to split it with, it really is an excellent cheesecake. 

So changes have come at The Gaso - we were all quite happy with the meals we had but the menu didn't seem quite as exciting as the old US-influenced one. Hopefully they mix it up a bit over winter - I'd definitely be back if vegan pierogi turned up on the menu. It's nice that the folk at The Gasometer aren't resting on their laurels, we'll definitely be back again before summertime.
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Read about our previous visits to the Gasometer: one, two, three, four, five, six and seven. I couldn't find anyone who'd blogged it in the couple of months since we last did.
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The Gasometer
484 Smith Street, Collingwood
9417 5539
veg eats $5 - $21 (Tuesday night specials $15)
facebook page

Accessibility: The Gasometer has a small step on entry. The tables are crowded in some areas but the booths and tables closest to the entry are relatively spacious. Ordering and payment occurs at a high counter. Male and female toilets are on the same level as everything else but are not particularly spacious.

15 comments:

  1. Thanks for this review guys! I was really sad to hear that the menu had gone away from US diner-style food and have been patiently waiting to see what the new menu offers before making a long trek over there. Now that I've seen the pastrami burger with vegan goats cheese we will definitely be heading back to the Bloatometer to give this a try! :D

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    1. You're welcome, Mel! If I'm not mistaken, some of the serving sizes might be a little more modest now though the food's still very hearty and bloat-worthy. ;-)

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  2. What a shame there is no pierogi - but it sounds like there is still plenty of mock meat for those who like it - definitely looks like a place to while away a winter afternoon!

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    1. Johanna - yes, it'd be the perfect veg Eastern European menu if only they offered those dumplings!

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    2. Shannon Martinez9:25 p.m., June 10, 2012

      Hey there!
      I'm the head chef at the Gas.
      I got some good news for you.
      I read your review, and I've been playing around with vegan pierogi this week to see if I can come up with something for you all. And just quietly, I've nailed it. They will be on as a special next week. 2 different filling.

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    3. Hi Shannon - that's SUPER exciting! Thanks so much for giving it a shot and letting us know. We won't be in town for the next couple of weeks but I'll be sure to spread the word.

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  3. wow thanks for going! I would certainly go there over The Cornish Arms or the Sporting Club any day... $20 for a mushroom no way but $17 for that burger is entirely reasonable considering everything that comes with it.

    This menu looks much more exciting to me than the old one.. cant wait to go!

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    1. Carla - it's definitely my pub preference too. Even if the prices are only a couple of dollars cheaper, their attention specifically to vegan food can't be beat.

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  4. Or if you come from somewhere where no vegan cheesecakes exist anywhere for the ordering, then $16 seems like money well spent! Also, those polenta chevre balls = bliss in my mind.

    Also, also, I'm in Melbourne tonight, with no time for nice dinner or even breakfast. Boo!

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    1. Hannah - that hardly sounds like a trip to Melbourne at all! I'm sorry we missed you and that you missed the nice food.

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  5. Way way too much for a slice of cheesecake!

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    1. I could barely believe my eyes when I saw the price! To be fair, though, it's damn good cheesecake.

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  6. Woah, that pastrami burger looks and sounds wonderful. But $16 for a slice of cake! I'm loathe to pay more than $5 for cake, unless it is something I can definitely *not* make myself.

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    1. I hear ya, Theresa - it definitely gives me more motivation to make this kinda thing at home for a fraction of the price.

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