The opening of the Gasometer on Smith Street was the perfect excuse to reconvene our increasingly sporadic pub-club. The Gasometer is run by the peeps who used to run the kitchen at the East Brunswick Club, so it was always going to have a veg-friendly menu. We also needed a coeliac friendly menu and were pleased to hear that they'd got some gf options together following K and Toby's visit.
We got there before 6:30 and had our pick of spots, opting for a big fireside table with plenty of room for our group of eight. As expected, the menu was filled with intriguing options - Cindy and I both resisted the 'chorizo' inspired vegie burger and the mac and 'cheese' this time around, meaning we'll have to make a return visit post-haste. I was lured in by the arepas (which I've become obsessed with thanks to Sonido). The Gasometer version comes with house made shredded seitan cooked in a rich Mexican chilli sauce, topped with a fresh coriander-laced ceviche of hearts of palm, tomato, avocado and corn, drizzled with cashew cream ($18).
Unlike The EBC, the Gasometer goes for relatively sane serving sizes - for $18 I was expecting a larger portion; even so, this turned out to be plenty of food (especially when I got to sneak a decent amount of Cindy's meal as well). The seitan was meaty and deliciously slathered in the rich, spicy sauce, while the toppings were an intriguing combination of textures and flavours. The only slight disappointment was the arepas themselves, which were a little dry and tough compared to our other experiences.
Cindy went for two entrée orders, starting with the Buffalo smoked tofu strips (tofu strips tossed in a spicy Buffalo sauce, served with house made ranch dipping sauce, $12).
These had a satisfying chilli kick (although I think you can up the ante and order them 'brutal'), with the somehow vegan dipping sauce providing a cooling complement. I snuck as many of these as I could get away with - highly recommended.
Of course the true test of any pub for Cindy is the quality of their chips, so she added an order of fat steak fries, seasoned with black ash salt and served with garlic aioli ($7.50).
I can't say as I noticed anything special about the black ash salt, but these were some excellently crispy chips - a slightly bigger serve of aioli would have been nice, but these golden potato chunks were good enough to stand on their own.
By 8 o'clock or so The Gasometer was doing a roaring trade. And why not? There's a good range of beers on tap, plenty of tables, friendly staff and an excellently varied menu. The food is not cheap, but it's great to see a pub trying to be a bit adventurous with their vego options - between this place and The Fox, the north-west corner of Collingwood has become the a veg-friendly pub hotspot.
The Gasometer has had rave reviews for vegan-bloggers In the Mood for Noodles and Adrian Wallace, while their meaty options (and the chips!) got the thumbs up from Em at it pleases us.
Address: 484 Smith Street, Collingwood
Ph: 9417 5539
Prices: $7.5 - $18
Licensed (of course!)