I feel a strong sense of familiarity with Gerard's Bistro. When I'm stuck on the question of "what's your favourite restaurant in Brisbane", it's always a response that presents itself. Imagine my surprise when I looked through my own food blog and realised I had only visited once, back in 2012. Sometimes it only takes a restaurant one go to leave a strong impression. All the same, all my friends and workmates seemed to be constantly talking about their delicious experiences at Gerard's so I knew I was long overdue for a visit.
Luckily friend of mine, Goldilocks, is as into food as I am and she suggested we do a double date dinner at Gerard's Bistro last Friday. What a great idea! We started the night at the bar (across the alleyway from the Bistro) and once we were sufficiently marinated with cocktails and beer, we migrated over to the bistro itself.
There's indoor and outdoor dining space and we were allocated a table inside. You can see into the kitchen at one end of the room (always a sign of confidence IMO) and the decor is stylish with mild industrial influences. I liked the comfortably dim lighting. We tucked into our seats, which were gorgeous padded leather affairs. This is definitely a dining environment that encourages slow grazing.
As integral to a good dining experience as the food itself is the beverages. Luckily Gerard's has a comprehensive supply of alcoholic offerings. Between the four of us, we ended up ordering two bottles of wine, multiple cocktails and boutique beer. That certainly got the conversation flowing.
The dishes at Gerard's are designed to be shared. They are organised into categories of starters, main and sides, and desserts. We left all the ordering up to Goldilocks because she was more familiar with the menu. We ended up ordering such a huge variety of dishes that it's impossible for me to give detailed feedback on each. Instead, I'll upload the pictures per category and summarise my favourites.
Organic house bread - with smoked, cultured butter
Noosa spanner crab - with watermelon, rosewater and piquillo pepper
Samke nayyeh - with walnut milk, chamomile oil, grapefruit and green almond
Kibbeh nayyeh - with harissa, preserved lime, shallot, pickled cucumber and egg yolk
Cured ocean trout - with salted blackberries, Aleppo pepper and perilla
Smoked lamb sweetbreads - with Jerusalem artichoke, almond and buttermilk
We actually ordered bread as an afterthought but I'm so glad we did because it ended up being one of the highlights of the night for me. Everything tastes better smoked but smoked, whipped butter is just whole next level awesomeness. I also really enjoyed the tartares (we had a king fish tartare and a lamb tartare) and the crumbed lamb sweetbread stood out as well.
Confit southern squid - with mussels, hazelnut milk, warrigal greens and kishk
Coal-grilled broccolini - with kale, shallot oil, lemon and cured smoked egg yolk
Slow-cooked lamb neck - with goats cheese, barberry, asparagus and wild rice
Fried cauliflower - with tahini, ras el hanout, smoked almond and pomegranate
Suckling pig - with heritage carrot, Arabic coffee and cacao and pickled onions
Slow-roasted Blackmore wagyu brisket - with seasonal accompaniments
The mains followed on with just as much flair as our entrees. Each plate was beautifully presented and the elements included in each dish showcased an expert understanding of flavour and texture pairings. I was recommended the fried cauliflower dish by a work colleague and though it sounded boring, I was expecting great things. This ended up being another one of my favourites of the night. The squid was lovely and delicate, the lamb full of flavour and punch and the pork perfectly crispy. I was surprised that something as simple as broccolini could be made so tasty with the addition of shaved egg yolk and lemon. The wagyu brisket was our last item and it was a feast in itself. A portion of slow cooked brisket is fork-torn before your eyes to be stuffed between housemade flat bread and fresh accompaniments (pickles, yoghurt, herbed salad). What a way to end an amazing meal.
Incredibly, in just two visits across the span of several years, Gerard's Bistro has managed to cement itself in my mind as one of my favourite restaurants in Brisbane (hesitation to crown any restaurant "my absolute favourite" comes from my fear of commitment). I was so enthralled by this recent experience, I went back to the bar for more dinner and drinks the following week and convinced my whole family to celebrate Chinese New Year there. Rarely does a restaurant leave such a positive impression.
Highlights of our meal included the bread with smoked butter, lamb sweetbreads, wagyu brisket and fried cauliflower. Honestly though, I was continually impressed by every dish I tasted. Service was impeccable throughout and I really enjoyed the stylish yet comfortable and unrushed dining environment.