We’re back for the second instalment of my new series of reviewing pubs that cater for vegetarians with a spotlight on The Gem in Collngwood. If you missed part one, you can catch my review of the Fox Hotel here!
My sister was in Melbourne for the weekend so we decided a catchup over a pub meal was called for, however as she has a broken ankle we thought it best to stick with somewhere close to my place, so decided The Gem was it!
The Gem is a great little local pub with a busy front bar and then some separate (small) dining areas. The staff were great and despite it being very busy were able to find us a spot that was crutches-appropriate and then were friendly and attentive all night.
The Gem may have seemed a strange choice given it is known for its Southern food, and in particular their Sunday Texas BBQ, however the menu has a good number of vegetarian friendly option as well. Whilst there were a number of larger dishes including a haloumi burger and a polenta pasta dish we decided to share a few of the smaller options. The menu changes slightly each season, but a most of the traditional pub options seem to be permanently on the roster.
From the specials menu we got the southern fried okra with ranch dressing ($8). I have to admit I wasn’t 100% sure on what okra was as it’s not something I eat very often, however these were delicious! Nice and crispy on the outside and slightly soft on the inside. The dressing was a good balance for the fairly salty exterior, and we were very happy to munch away on these!
We also had one of the soft shell tacos with black eye beans, beetroot slaw, avocado and Baja dressing ($6) each and I think these may have been my highlight of the meal. Full of flavour and all around delicious!
Next up was a serve of the sweet potato fries with aioli ($8) which are always a favourite of mine given my love for all things potato and these were no disappointment. They were well cooked, and whilst I normally prefer a thick cut chip these shoe-string fries more than hit the spot.
Finally we hadthe Kafalograviera saganaki with zaatar, grilled Turkish bread and lemon ($13) which was a nice, simple dish which I guess is hard to get wrong! Nevertheless this was an excellent, salty dish that didn’t last long on our table at all!
After all that we happily rolled (or more accurately hobbled on crutches!) our way home, full to the brim on delicious food. The best part is there were still plenty of options on the menu that we didn’t try, so I will definitely be heading back to give them a go as well. How could I not when it’s so close to home?!
Any suggestions or recommendations for Stop 3 on this pub tour?