Where? - 484 Smith St. Collingwood
Price? - $24
Website? - http://www.thegasometerhotel.com.au/
Reviewers – Fridge, Lee, Nikki, Stefo[/info]
I've passed the Gasometer a few times and its always intrigued me. I can't quite say why it was at the top of our list this week, it just was.
The Gaso has a bit of a history. After it opened originally as The Gasometer it became Father Flanagan's, an Irish pub (and you can tell, a lot of the aesthetic of the front bar screams "Irish Pub"). In around 2010 it became the Gasometer again but the menu took on a very "American" theme, a bit of a trendsetter as these days you can't swing a cat in Melbourne without hitting an American themed pub... Until about 2013, when they famously shut down due to being unable to pay the beer bill. But the Gaso is back! The menu still has a bit of an American bent, some Aussie pub staples have creeped their way back onto the menu, one of which is the parma...
The Gasometer has a great atmosphere, with open fireplaces, exposed brick, stone and wood (the building materials, not the beer ... although they do have the beer on tap) and a lot of little nooks and crannies to get lost in, not to mention a massive live music area out the back which was getting set up for a gig while we were there. If you're a regular reader you'll already know that this is how I like my pubs. We took a seat in the front dining area, checked the menu and ordered our birds.
Behind the bar there was an impressive range of taps. Other than the aforementioned Stone & Wood there were (at least) eight taps of different craft beers to sample (most from the Thunder Road Brewing Company lineup) - more than enough to keep a connoisseur happy for an evening.
At pretty much 30 minutes on the dot our parmas arrived from the kitchen...
Damn they looked good when they first dropped on the table, the barely-pounded chicken breast and abundance of shaved ham reminded me a lot of last year's Best New Parma winner, The Wolf & I. We quickly picked up our cutlery and tucked in. It was in the first mouthful that we all noticed what will be the most discussed point of this parma ... the flavour of the crumbs.
They had a tang. A tang that tasted like liquorice, and it wasn't subtle, not at all - every bite was a liquorice-ey smack to the face. After a bit of investigation, we found the culprit, This seed -
These seeds were all through the crumbs. I initially thought they were dried aniseed seeds, but after a bit of discussion on Reddit Melbourne it would seem that there are a lot of similar tasting seeds that look practically identical, the most likely suspects being -
... but whatever it was it completely overpowered the dish. The ham, the cheese, the napoli? All lost behind the punch of this seed. The first few bites I applauded them for trying something different, but by the halfway point I was well and truly over it. I give them points for trying something different, but I'm afraid this experiment has missed the mark entirely.
The chicken itself was phenomenal. Insanely thick and literally dripping with juice as you lifted it from the plate, while it didn't look huge on the plate its a deceptive one as I struggled to finish the whole thing.
The topping were also fantastic. There was so much shaved ham piled on top of the parma that it was almost as thick as the chicken - Unfortunately as I said, all the flavour was drowned out by the aniseed.
Just to see what it was like I peeled some of the ham, cheese and napoli off the chicken and tried them seperately. On its own the ham came to life, it carried a delicious smokey fresh-off-the-bone flavour that was just a delight. The napoli was slightly watery, but tasty and the cheese was grilled to perfection and added a lovely cheddar tang.
The chips were also pretty great. I was pleasantly surprised to receive proper chips as opposed to the "fries" advertised on the menu ( I was expecting Maccas chips). There was a hefty serving and they were well cooked, piping hot and perfectly seasoned (with bottles of tomato sauce available by the bar) - a delight.
The salad was also a bit of a unique experience - I don't think we've ever had bean shoots before. Consisting of lettuce, cucumber, sliced radish and bean shoots it was a fresh and crisp addition to the meal, Only lightly dressed but I don't think it needed anything more.
$24 is a little pricey in general, with but the quality of the chicken and abundance of toppings and sides I would be more than happy to pay that again. I couldn't see any parma night's advertised so I think the $24 will stick all week.
If it weren't for that damn seed in the crumbs I would be calling this parma an early favourite for Best New Parma of 2015 - However the liquorice punch absolutely murdered this dish. Saying that, I would still recommend checking it out, if you can overlook the aniseed flavour every other element of this parma was near perfect... definitely one to keep an eye on, and hopefully they come to their senses about that damn seed ... just look how thick this thing is -
- Amazingly thick and juicy chicken breast
- Abundance of mouth-watering shaved ham
- Plenty of well seasoned and cooked chips
- Unique, fresh side salad
- Aniseed-flavoured seed through the crumbs overpowered entire dish.