Monday, 8 December 2014

Farewell Tour - Gerard's Bistro

There are very few restaurants that burst onto the scene and make an impression in the same way that Fortitude Valley’s Gerard’s Bistro has done.  In a very short space of time, Gerard’s has done what very few restaurants have done….

Chefs Hat – check (currently One Brisbane Times Good Food Guide Hat)
Gourmet Traveller top 100 list – check (currently 88 in Australia)
Gourmet Traveller 10 ten in Brisbane – check (currently #4)
Gourmet Traveller best new talent – check (Ben Williamson )

It would be foolish to understate the impact and influence that Gerard’s Bistro has had on the Brisbane dining scene.  It’s helped radically transform the fine dining paradigm.  No longer did amazing restaurants need to charge $50+ for a main course;  silver service was relegated to yesterday’s news; and share plates became the norm….

All because of Gerard’s Bistro.

A collaboration between Brisbane’s well known Moubaraks and wonderkind Chef Ben Williamson, it would also be a mistake to think Gerard’s was an overnight success.

Much of Gerard’s success can be attributed to Ben Williamson and his uniquely (at the time) Middle Eastern slant on dining.  Ben has honed his skills at some amazing restaurants including 1889 Enoteca, Cha Cha Char (and Organic Char) and Urbane/Euro, before catching his break to take on the role of launching a brand new restaurant….  The rest, as they say, is history!

I’ve been fortunate enough to eat at Gerard’s Bistro countless times since it’s opening in 2012 and have had some incredible meals.  I’ll never forget my favourite Gerard’s moment in December 2012 when I first tried the warm octopus with burnt butter, almond, chilli and smoke.  It fundamentally changed the way I thought about octopus (by the way, you can still see this dish on the Gerard’d Bistro website!)

It’s not always been a love affair with Gerard’s, I’ve had some less than stellar experiences there as well, usually when in a group of six or more.  There was one particular birthday dinner with a group of ten friends that….  Well, lets just say I’ve put that one out of my mind.

I’m moving overseas shortly, so I’ve been visiting some of my favourite restaurants, which of course includes Gerard’s Bistro.  We stopped in for a quick post party dinner – yeah, I know, it’s usually the other way round, but I do things differently.

The menu at Gerard’s is purely designed with sharing in mind, there isn’t really a list of entrees or mains, just a long list of food.  We kicked off our (possibly last) dinner with the yellowfin tuna with salted mulberries, aleppo pepper, (advertised) black ants and perilla.  The pretty looking dish was presented without the advertised ants, yeah, sold out?!  The yellowfin tuna was marinated in the aleppo pepper and chopped into pieces, then hidden under the perilla leaves.  The idea was to use the leaf to wrap the tuna and eat in one bite.  The fresh tuna worked well with the bite of the perilla leaves and spice of the peppers.  It was a very satisfying dish.

Interesting sounding dishes often look completely different to expectations when ordering at Gerard’s and this was the case with the Murray cod with smoked mussels, roasted chicken fumet, potato mousse and taklia.  The cod was completely covered by the potato mousse and presented with a snake like piece of fish skin.  The flavours were pretty intense, with the reduced chicken fumet providing a really deep flavour that contrasted with the cod.  The cod itself was perfectly cooked and moist, as were the smoked mussels.  It was a bizarre dish that shouldn’t have worked, but did.

I really thought I’d enjoy the Blackmore wagyu rump cap on lemon leaves with aleppo kimchi and green almonds, and for the most part I did.  I wasn’t really sure what to do with the lemon leaves that sat atop of the dish, so I just quietly set them aside while eating the food.  I loved the perfectly medium rare wagyu rump cap, which was tender and tasty, but I’d forgotten how strong kimchi could be, so ended up leaving almost all of the kimchi behind.  For me, it just threw the balance of the dish out.

We finished our meal with the “Mujaddara” - braised lentils and rice with caramelized onions and cumin.  It was a simple dish of rice and lentils but just packing a major flavour punch.   We’d over estimated how much food we’d be able to eat and barely managed to eat half of the tasty dish.  I think the dish should have been served first or second, and not last…  It would have helped the flow of the meal.

There is one thing that I know for certain…  The food at Gerard’s Bistro is flavoursome and challenging, it’s the type of food that tests you, but with that test comes a sense of exhilaration and reward that you’d tried something new and come out a winner.

If you’ve not been, then you need to add this to your ‘go-to’ list.  If you’ve been to Gerard’s before, then you know what I’m talk’n about.


I was pretty sure I didn't need to try the lemon leaves - I set them aside gently before eating the wagyu
Gerard's Bistro has a distinctly Middle Eastern feel to the food
There is even an alfresco element to the bistro
An older shot of Ben and the team

Gerard's Bistro on Urbanspoon
Gerard's Bistro


  1. Fantastic - the presentation is beautiful, your photo's are lovely! Thanks for the comprehensive and informative review!

    1. Thanks Peta, it's a pretty interesting place :)


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