2012 saw a flurry of new restaurants opening in Brisbane, and as soon as I heard about Gerard’s Bistro I knew I wanted to eat there. Deciding to wait a while to see what sort of responses and reviews emerge instead of immediately heading to a new restaurant is an attitude we have decided to embrace, though waiting this long to eat there was never our intention. As soon as the Christmas and New Year period was over, we booked in for a Saturday night dinner.
Gerard’s is a venture opened by the same people that also own Laruche in Fortitude Valley and Lychee Lounge in West End. They have obviously nailed trendy bars, and have decided to move into something new. We expected a fancy interior, which it was, but it was also warm and casual at the same time. The menu has intriguing Moroccan and Middle Eastern influences, changing with the season and offering daily specials as well.
Sticking to cocktails was always going to be a great idea, given that the two bars also owned by the owners of Gerard’s have two of the best cocktail lists in Brisbane. L had a dry gin martini whilst I loved the sounds of the ‘Delightful Turk’, Ketel One vodka, Creme de cocoa, Campari rinse, fresh watermelon, lemon juice, rhubarb syrup and rose water. It was immensely refreshing and I drank it so quickly I ordered a glass of wine later with the main parts of our meal. The wine list at Gerard’s seems thorough without being terribly (and confusingly) extensive.
The food menu as stated above draws influence from North Africa and the Middle East, and is designed to be shared. There are smaller dishes, as well as a couple of larger dishes designed to be shared between two. We sought help from our waiter in deciding how many dishes to order and it ended up being the perfect amount.
We were off to a great start with Seared scallops, sujuq, caramelized spiced blood puree and green almonds. The scallops had a golden hue and although small were cooked perfectly. Sujuq is a dried mince meat type of sausage and was packed full of spice and flavour. We thought this dish was one of the best of the evening.
My choice of small dish was the Coal grilled spatchcock, fenugreek, salad of aromatic herbs, Persian feta, pomegranate and walnuts. The spatchcock was moist and tender, and the salad was very refreshing, although difficult to share… More please?
We turned to the specials board for the remainder of our savoury dishes. Coal grilled scotch fillet, cucumber, garlic chives, buffalo curd and black garlic was unfortunately the dish that left the least impression. The smear of black garlic was meant to provide the ‘sauce’ or flavour element and the delicious meat definitely spoke for itself – we were told to order this at least medium-medium rare to allow the fat to melt and become buttery – but we wanted something a bit more. There was also no sign that we can recall of buffalo curd.
Slow cooked pork belly with shredded local squid, mandarin and pine nut tarator was a winner. Anything with seafood like this is always an experiment for me (I am not a seafood person) but I did enjoy the squid element. The pork belly was soft and caramelised and there were little crunchy bits on top that reminded me of tempura that added another texture.
Dessert was definitely the aspect of the night that we both enjoyed the most. I went with Spiced date cream, pistachio and halva biscuit, honeycomb and vanilla. I savoured every last bite of this, it was creamy, sweet and dense and the honeycomb bits added a crunchy element that melted on the tongue.
L loves anything chocolate, and so had to have Bitter and sweet chocolate mousse, biscuit and ganache with milk icecream and salted oat. As with my dessert, it was a contrast of textures, the mousse was quite thick rather than being a whipped aerated mousse. It was the perfect balance between bitter and sweet.
We thought our meal at Gerard’s was fabulous, the food here is so different to anything else around Brisbane. The Middle Eastern and Moroccan flavours have a definite prescence throughout the menu and were enticing and exciting.
CGerard’s Bistro 14/15 James Street Fortitude Valley Ph 07 3852 3822 Open Tues-Sun Lunch and Dinner www.gerardsbistro.com.au