As you will have noticed from my previous post, if one thing is guaranteed when film festival time rolls around, it is that Melbourne eateries will receive my heavily increased patronage. While my tendency to eat out is ordinarily at a reasonably high level, during this time it skyrockets, due to increased time spent in the city sitting in cinemas for hours on end, combined with my extreme laziness in actually attempting to make my own lunches and dinners to sustain me through screenings.
And if these pre- or post-film eating sessions include fine company, well, that’s all to the better! After an afternoon session of Werner Herzog’s latest doco Cave of Forgotten Dreams at MIFF, Muffin and I could be found strolling down Smith Street gleefully recalling some of the more ridiculous lines of Herzog’s narration (“Are we just albino crocodiles overwhelmed in a river of history?” Oh, Werner).
The only way that we were feeling like crocodiles was in that we were starving, and required a good solid meal so that we could spend the evening floating bloated in a river somewhere, as I am led to believe crocodiles are wont to do. Little were we to expect that the dinner we ended up ordering at Gasometer would leave us as stuffed and satisfied as a plump antelope must do for a Nile crocodile (this post is turning into a National Geographic special).
Gasometer serves fabulous pub grub with a difference – it is extremely vegie and vegan friendly, and the kitchen goes to a real effort to make their v-dishes exciting and varied. This isn’t your standard we’re-going-to-slap-you-with-a-standard-vegie-burger pub meal. This is v-junk food in its finest incarnation.
After much dithering and being quite overwhelmed by the choice on offer, I ended up going with the southern fried “chicken” burger with chips, and a side of vegan mac and cheese. The burger is probably the closest vegies are ever going to get to experiencing KFC again, and it tastes a hell of a lot better than KFC ever did! The protein patty is deliciously seasoned, nice and crispy without and juicy within, and complimented with tomato, lettuce and a kicky sauce filled with spice.
The chips deserve a paragraph all to themselves, as they are, without a doubt, the best chips in Melbourne. You heard me. Think of a light yet intensely crispy chip with a fluffy interior and then multiply its deliciousness ten-fold. Muffin and I descended into a fierce discussion attempting to figure out their cooking method to achieve such potato finery… perhaps an adaptation of the Blumenthal method? We are continuing our research.
The vegan mac and cheese I was most curious about. How would you recreate such a rich dish without any cheese? Would it go chalky, like some cheese-replacements I’ve sampled have had a tendency to do? I shouldn’t have worried, I was clearly in safe hands. It was the richest mac and cheese, let alone ‘cheeze’, that I’ve probably ever had, and definitely one of the nicest. A more satisfying bowl of rich, stodgy goo you will never find!
Muffin bucked the vegan-trending menu by ordering the item with probably the most meat in it, the Reuben sandwich. A mountain of pastrami wedged between some mighty fine-looking slices of dark rye bread, the sandwich was accompanied by two sides, a bowl of sauerkraut and a carrot and beetroot salad. I snuck in quite a few tastes of the sauerkraut (I think Muffin and I are both quietly developing twin sauerkraut dependency syndromes) and it was gorgeously sweet and tart, a very nice kraut indeed. Muffin very wisely finished with the carrot and beetroot salad, which was a light way to finish while I struggled through the remains of my mac and cheese (so cheezy!).
The fact that we had mown through meals ample enough for a family of crocodiles was not going to stop us from ordering dessert! We’d been eying off the pumpkin pie since arriving, and after giving ourselves a moment to rest, it arrived at our table with an accompanying globe of gingerbread ice cream.
The waitress had told us that the gingerbread ice cream was the greatest thing ever, and she wasn’t wrong. I want to know how they make this, too! It’s light ginger yet biscuity touch was a perfect foil for the dense, creamy pie, which was everything I’d hoped it would be. God, I love pie.
Gasometer is highly impressive. The fact that I am desperately searching for ways to replicate both the chips and the gingerbread ice cream at home should go some way to proving how affecting I found their food to be. So make like an albino crocodile, and ponder the meanings of history, art and the human soul over a gut-busting meal of vegan decadence at Gasometer. Although I can’t imagine that Herzog would approve, considering how much he’d probably prefer you to help him in his quest to rid the world of chickens.
484 Smith Street, Collingwood
Ph: 9417 5538