Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Gopal's Vegetarian, Melbourne CBD by Snooze

I really wanted to like Gopal's Vegetarian. I love vegetarian food and I have a long history with Gopal's. Both my kids had allergies when they were babies and were brought up on a predominantly vegetarian diet, so between that and lack of money the kids and I went to Gopal's for lunch whenever we were in town. Visiting with Big Fil was a trip down memory lane and given it's not far from work I'm surprised I haven't been there in years. And so many things haven't changed: the same furniture, the same style of food and maybe even the same carpet on the stairs 20 years later.

Big Fil went with the organic tofu in tomato sauce with rice. I'm not a huge fan of tofu (the often bland rubbery texture puts me off) and when it's covered in a bland tomato sauce there's little in the dish for me. So while I didn't really expect to like it I was interested in Big Fil's impression. In keeping with the bland trend, Fil's feeling was that it was, well, bland, which was soon established as the theme for the day.

I usually go for the vegetarian lasagne but this time I opted for the vegetables in coconut milk with rice. This was another bland dish and for me didn't have enough spice or coconut milk. With either or both of those things addressed this would be a favourite as the vegetables were plentiful and nicely cooked.

Something I particularly like are the number of desserts on offer. Having such a large meal I opted for a single fruit and nut ball, a mistake on my part in retrospective given there were three or more of these and slices to try. My choice was generous for the price with lots of fruit and nut in it but bland generally.

In contrast, the bestof the day was Big Fil's choice of the fruit crumble with custard ... and I don't know why it was called that because it was an apple crumble. This had lots of apple, lots of coconut and was covered in a lovely custard. This was the sort of crumble your Nan makes rather than restaurant crumble: the apple was a little over cooked and there's maybe a little too much coconut for a professional crumble but it's the sort of comfort food it's hard to pass up. And what's more, a dish with some texture but still bland.

Big Fil and I both opted for drinks: apple and wheatgrass for me and strawberry lassi for Big Fil. Probably the best part of the trip for me. My drink had that slightly warm freshly squeezed temperature and was perfectly blended. Big Fil's lassi was a bit sweet, possibly even bland..

Expecting to have the same response to things as you had many years before doesn't often happen and this was the case for me. Big Fil also confimred that standards had dropped and prices risen since he used to be a regular. Nevertheless, Gopal's is a cheap, easy to find place serving reasonable food at a cheap price (eg $15 for two courses and a drink). It's at the top of a very steep staircase with seating on two levels so it's hard for shopping baskets, children and prams but not impossible (as I've lugged all three up the stairs). Grab a seat by the window on either floor, especially on the second floor staring out onto the tree tops. It's very soothing and defininitely not bland.

Food - 5.5
Ambience - 6.5
Service - 6.5
Price - 6.5

139 Swanston St
Melbourne VIC 3000
Tel: (03) 9650 1578

Gopal's Vegetarian on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

Gopals has really gone to the pack. It's over priced, the portions are mean and small and the quality just isn't there. They used to be "all you can eat" but they took that away, they reduced the choices, the upped the prices so that you end us with a lot less for your money and it isn't that nice. Plus the service is done with stern faces. They need to get rid of the current management and think about what the public want - think about what the people who would want to come to a place like Gopals would want. I think the current management have become greedy and mean.

Anonymous said...

Yes I too have memories when Gopals was great - now it's over priced, the portions are small an the taste is not there. Also the food doesn't look fresh - especially the deserts - tiny portions already on plates ready to serve at very high prices.

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