Sunday, 24 June 2012

The Gasometer Hotel - a little neofolk, a little vegan

The Gasometer Hotel closed November 2013

Last Saturday I spent the afternoon in the pub.  I've read a lot about the amazing vegan food there, then I saw the picture of the Gasometer Hotel on Where's the Beef and Mel remarked on the the promise of pierogis on the specials menu.  We had met my friend Heather at the Fitzroy Market and strolled down Smith Street to the pub for a late lunch.  It looked deserted and closed.  But the door was open.  Let's just say we had our pick of seats.  

We settled by the window in front of a roaring fire and spent some time pouring over the extensive menu.  We were impressed by the Eastern European theme.  A little bit Neofolk, said E, as the Sisters of Mercy played on the stereo.  The menu was quite unusual for Melbourne.  I hadn't expected so much choice.  The pierogis had stiff competition.  I considered the borscht, broccoli leek and spinach pancake, German winter strudel and mushroom schnitzel.  Finally I decided on the pretzel and the cabbage rolls.

We ordered at the bar where I saw that an apple hot toddy was on offer.  It had apple cider, apple schnapps, whiskey, brandy and goodness knows what else!  I am not much of a drinker but warm winter drinks are just my sort of thing.  Especially when sitting in front of an open fire.  Heaven!

Heather chose the Cheese Stuffed Mamaliga Fritters with a paprika based relish.   They arrived quite some time before our meal.  I've never heard of Mamaliga before but have since read that it is like an Eastern European version of polenta.  By the time I sampled these they had cooled considerably and I didn't think to take some sauce.  They seemed rather bland but Michael loved his, so I think hot and with sauce must be the way to eat them.

I chose the Cabbage Rolls stuffed with mushrooms, herb and rice and served with tomato sauce and sour cream.  I liked these but they didn't wow me.  They were quite hearty and tasty but I think I found the cabbage a bit overwhelming.  I had decided on a small plate of these to include more vegetables in my meal and to leave room for a freshly baked pretzel. 

The pretzels were amazing.  Huge knots of bread bigger than my hand, warm out of the oven and served with a tasty mustard butter.  I think I am right in saying that it is unusual to find freshly baked pretzels in Melbourne.  It was a rare treat.

Sylvia was predictable and ordered the chips.  They were excellent.  Crispy, hot and fluffy inside.

E surprised me by ordering the Tempeh Paprikash.  Tempeh chunks marinated in apple cider, caraway and paprika, served in a creamy paprika sauce on a bad of noodles.  It was very good.  The tempeh worked really well here.  The noodles were thick and almost chewy, which worked fantastically with the creamy sauce.

We were rather full after dinner but enjoyed chatting in the convivial surroundings.  After a bit we were ready to tackle dessert.  Unfortunately they weren't ready for us.  E would have liked a coffee but they did not serve those sort of hot drinks.  The service was rather slow.  Not even a reminder could hurry them, and the other tables were filling up.  Fortunately we were happy to while away the afternoon by the fire rather than head out into the rain.

Finally E's dessert arrived.  Again he ordered off the specials menu.  The doughnut balls in a gingerbread mocha soup.  I rather liked the way the soup was served in a mug with little wooden forms for the dipping the doughnut balls.  The doughnut balls were nice but I have had better.  Sylvia enjoyed them.  When I tasted the soup, all I could taste was coffee (despite E telling me there wasn't much coffee in it).  So I suggest, unless you dislike coffee as much as I do, you take E's word that it was rather good and a bit like a hot chocolate.

Heather and I had decided to share the Black Forrest Molten Chocolate Pudding which came with cherry and vanilla ice cream and a spiced cherry compote.  The name of the pudding let it down.  It was more like a warm chocolate cake than anything molten.  Names aside, the combination of chocolate cake with the creamy ice cream and wintery spiced compote was very good.

Despite a few lowpoints, I was very impressed with the Gasometer Hotel.  The menu is full of temptations (I hope that maybe the pierogi stays on the specials awhile so I can sample it another time), caters to a range of dietary requirements (lots of vegan and gluten free dishes) and is very pretty (see below picture).  It was not a cheap lunch but I felt like we were served good food.  The servings are generous, hence Mel renaming it the Bloatometer.  By the time we left the place was full of punters and Joy Division was no longer on the stereo.

I only remember the pub as an Irish pub - variously called Irish Murphy's and Father Flanagans.  So I was interested to read that the current owners have returned it to the original name - The Gasometer - that was used from its opening in 1861 until 1997.  The building reflects an appreciation of history.  Its spacious rooms exude heritage charm with the lead light windows, bluestone walls and open fireplaces. Just the place for a winter's afternoon.

The Gasometer Hotel
484 Smith Street (corner of Alexandra Parade)
Collingwood
03 9417 5538
Open for lunches Sat-Sun, and dinner Tues - Sun
Gasometer Facebook page

The Gasometer Hotel closed November 2013 

15 comments:

  1. Apple hot toddy, that sounds delicious!

    I really hope to make Gasometer one of my first visits when I return to Melbourne, and I am very much hoping that the winter Eastern European menu is still around for me to try! Everyone's reviews make it sound delicious.

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    1. Thanks Steph - the hot toddy was excellent - not sure I have had one before but it reminded me of a warm spiced cider - am sure the eastern european menu will give you some very different food to that which you find in China - hope you enjoy it

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  2. What a gorgeous restaurant! I love the exposed walls with that fabulous fireplace! so rustic and cozy! That pretzel -- oh my gosh! looks so delicious -- and so do you cabbage rolls! yum!!! looks like you had a lovely evening:) thanks for sharing!

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    1. thanks GF happy tummy - the bluestone walls give the place a lovely atmosphere - the pretzel was just so so so good

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  3. This sounds like a great place to eat - will have to check it out. I adore cabbage rolls, so I'd give them a go.

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    1. Thanks Cakelaw - the cabbage rolls were just like stew and lots of rice and cabbage which is actually very yummy but I just feel like stew is something I could make at home - don't know what I expected when I ordered it but this wasn't it

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  4. Your pictures make the meals look lovely so it's a pity they were good rather than wow-ing (except for the pretzel!). The location and open fire do sound like a perfect base for a cold day though, and the range of dishes on offer is impressive.

    As a complete side step, I am impressed that you dislike coffee - or rather, I am impressed that there are people out there who function without coffee! I am not a big coffee drinker but I struggle to start the work day without it :S

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    1. Thanks Kari - I think good food like this is not a bad thing when the whole experience is very pleasant - I think the range of options makes me wish for other dishes when those I have don't amaze me.

      Re the coffee comment, I sometimes wish I could drink coffee to wake me up but it just never agrees with me - though I have known a few people who never drank it and then suddenly started so I have thought maybe my tastes will change once day

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  5. Blogger must have eaten my comment!

    I'm glad that you made it to Gasometer and mostly enjoyed your meals but am surprised that you didn't order the pierogi! I have a new appreciation for pierogi as I made some last weekend. They tasted fantastic but were quite fiddly and time consuming to put together.

    Love your photos and the write-up, it is such a quaint pub to relax and enjoy a meal in. I love the variety and innovation of the vegan meals available as they are so different to other places. I'm pleased to hear that they are open for weekend lunches these days, I'll keep this in mind for the future!

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    1. Thanks Mel - I found your comment had gone to spam - very odd as most of yours don't - so I deleted the duplicate - thanks for coming back to comment again - v frustrating!

      I wished I had ordered the pierogi when I got the cabbage rolls but I just though the cabbage rolls might be more veg - should have got both I guess :-( I am also wary about pierogi as I was introduced to a baked version and sometimes find the boiled version diasappointing - should try the baked version again at home - would love to hear about yours

      Agree it is great to find a place with an interesting and innovative menu - every Heather and E who are omnivores were impressed at the unusual menu but I imagine as a vegan it must be amazing

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  6. Everything looks perfect for this weather. I wonder what the weather will be like in Melbourne tomorrow as I'm going to be there on a very last minute and quick trip. I hope the food is as good as this! :)

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    1. Thanks Lorraine - hope you have a nice time in Mebourne - it is going to be 13 C today - quiet chilly (though in our house we joke it is a balmy summer's day in scotland) - shame I can't meet you for your meal :-(

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  7. A vegan or even vegetarian-friendly pub is not something I've ever come across here in NYC! Sounds like the food was pretty standard for pub fare...not too amazing but not bad either!

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    1. Thanks Joanne - I am under the impression that pubs are not really New York's speciality - sounds like you have some amazing vegan bakeries though :-)

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  8. Thanks for showing us a few more dishes from the menu - your photos look great!

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