There are no two ways about it, Gasometer is one of the biggest hipster-haunts I’ve come across. Possibly one of the highest hipster-to-mainstreamer ratio you’ll find anywhere in Melbourne. Walking into this rehabbed Irish pub though, you can see why. This is a serious a seriously cool space. The fit out (and fireplaces) are a big draw, especially down this end of Smith St. We headed there on a cold Saturday night with friends K&A and despite our non-hipness found the atmosphere fun and the service good (although meals were slow, probably taking approx 40 mins to arrive).
Gasometer is essentially a bar which has a bunch of tables in a couple of rooms around the place. For somewhere that has a focus on being a bar, the food is pretty good though. The menu channels an American diner. When I first heard about Gasometer I may have actually squeaked with excitement and bounced a little, that could just be because I’m biased because of my love for trashy American food though (and tv, oh the trashy tv). Having been to a number of American inspired places around Melbourne (Trunk Diner, Misty’s Diner etc) I can safely say that this is my favourite. I may not be able to walk if I keep eating here, but hey, you don’t need to walk to catch a 16 and Pregnant marathon on MTV.
Star-spangled cuisine is not something that we necessarily do well in this country. We might have gained gallons of imported television shows, heart stopping donuts and a love for Oprah, but American (and Canadian) food is not something we’ve mastered. Gasometer, however, is going a long way towards changing that.
It could have no other single item on the menu, but the fact that it’s adventurous enough to serve Poutine makes it a winner in my book. This artery clogging behemoth has been absent from our drunken shores far too long. I don’t think you could come here and not order a plate (well, it’s more a bowl) of Poutine. You’ll wait. Oh boy you’ll wait. But when it does actually arrive it makes it just that so much tastier. It could do with a bit more gravy and a bit more cheese, but if you’ve had it before it will definitely bring back those 3:00am memories of Canada, eh?
Not quite so recently now (but in the last couple months or so) Gasometer changed up their menu. It’s now mainly pretty heavy winter offerings. Sitting in one of the main rooms by a fireplace would be a great way to spend a winter night. Sitting in the back room with tiled floors, high ceilings, big windows and no heating is not quite as good but it does make you appreciate the warm food. Being not particularly well lit at night is all part of the atmosphere here, great for making people look good in person, not so great for making food look good in photos (yes, that’s our excuse for the quality of photos below).
The four of us shared two starters, the mozzarella sticks and poutine. The mozzarella sticks ($12) were little fingers of crumbed and deep fried cheese with a tomato salsa-esque dipping sauce. Tasty, but not for the faint hearted (or low cholesterol fan).
The poutine ($12), described by the menu as ‘Thick cut fries covered in shredded tilset cheese and drenched in gravy’, is Gasometer’s take on the fine Canadian tradition of serving up a heart attack on a plate. They don’t pack quite the cheese or gravy punch of genuine Canadian diner poutine but they are pretty darn good (if you like that kind of thing).
The mains at Gasometer all come with a choice of two sides included. The sides selection is: Mac & cheese, braised greens, mash, dirty rice, chopped salad, apple slaw, fries, baked potato with sour cream, beet & carrot salad and sauerkraut. Here here to serving things with a side of mac & cheese, that’s what we like to see. The sides are also available for individual purchase (ranging from $5 to $10).
Marg had the BBQ pulled pork (slow roasted in coca cola, shredded and smothered in BBQ sauce) with sides of mash and apple slaw ($20). The serve is more than generous and the meat was good, really good. Writing about it making me drool kind of good. The slaw was tangy and crunchy and just what you need to cut through the overt unhealthiness of the rest. What let this dish down was the non-delicious filler bread roll, it detracted from the rest of the meal.
Gerard has the NYC Reuben (pastrami sandwich) with apple slaw and beet & carrot salad ($19). The pastrami was cut in a more English Roast style than a thin traditional NYC cut, but that didn’t really affect the flavour. The sandwich was pretty good, and was large enough that it had to be cut in half. The apple slaw was ok (the serving size was more than enough), but Gerard hardly touched the beetroot salad. A little too many carrots, and tiny little pieces of beetroot hiding underneath.
K and A both had the southern fried chicken, K with baked potato and fries, A with mac & cheese and mash ($22). We’ve both had the fried chicken before and had to force ourselves to branch out tonight instead of having it all round. It’s tender, it’s crispy, it’s served with champagne gravy and apparently it’s organic. This is some chicken that can’t be beat.