Wednesday, September 23, 2009

September 22, 2009: The Gem

One of my colleagues has initiated a semi-regular Pub Club, an informal gathering of friends with a common interest in sampling the beers and pub meals available around the inner north. This week it was also an opportunity for Michael and I to try the Gem bar for the first time; we'd heard good things about the food but hadn't made it to the far side of Smith St. It's a pleasant pubby space with a rockabilly vibe and a designated dining room tucked round the side.

The menu is typically loud and proud with its meaty mains but there's few options for the vegetarian. Many of the sides - such as sagnaki, green beans & feta, spinach chilli & lemon, and patatas bravas ($7 each)- sound tasty enough to justify a sharing-plates strategy. Less inspiring is the pasta with napoli and parmesan ($12), so hooray for the haloumi burger ($15) listed further down. Michael and I requested one each and when I noticed garlic aioli listed separately on the menu ($1), I put in an order for that too.

The burger isn't a big 'un yet this dish unlikely to leave anyone hungry. The haloumi is served in sizable slabs, with a smattering of salad and spicy chutney. Then there's the vast expanse of chips lapping up against it - I'm not sure the photo above does it justice! Crisp and skinny, these are more fries than chips, to be grabbed unceremoniously by the handful, dunked liberally in aioli and stuffed inelegantly into one's mouth. To do anything more dainty would take hours to clear the plate, or at least that's what I told myself.

At $15 the haloumi burger and fries is reasonable value, for the quantity as much as the quality. This doesn't seem to be the case across the menu, with some of the fancier dishes (e.g. the confit duck leg) coming in more refined serves. The Gem's a nice spot for a casual meal (and a live band!) but you can't afford to be too casual about arranging a table - even on a Tuesday night the place was packed out.

Address: 289 Wellington St, Collingwood
Ph: 9419 5170
Price: vego snacks & sides $7, mains $12-15


  1. OOoh I do like The Gem, for drinking anyway. Not so sure on vegan options however, but thumbs up that they have veggie options at least!

  2. Oh that Haloumi burger is the BEST. I love a Saturday night at The Gem, great music!

  3. Hi Niki! Yeah, the vegan options are a little thinner on the ground but I think a couple of the small dishes would work as good beer snacks.

    Hi Anon! We were lucky enough to be around for a good band too. :-)

  4. Yeah, always pass by there - may have to actually stop and try the food one day - the haloumi looks great

  5. It tastes pretty good too, Brad. :-)