Gerard's Bistro, Fortitude Valley

Gerardʼs Bistro is the latest food instalment in the James Street Precinct.

And itʼs the latest incarnation from the people who brought you Laruche and the Lychee Lounge, Elie, Johnny and Mel Moubarak.

I was there four days after it opened but it was running like a well-oiled engine. I wasn’t the only local foodie curious to see this new offering and I spied both Peter Marchant and Lizzie Loel in the room tucking into their lunch.

You’ll have to hunt out Gerard’s as it’s nestled away in the new building on the corner of James and McLachlan Streets. Sort of behind Bucci, but keep looking.

“Gerardʼs is a logical progression for us” Elie says. “We love eating out—the food, the whole
dining experience. Thereʼs such a diversity of great restaurants today. We were keen to build on that and see what we could bring to the mix. James Street provided the ideal location.”

For head chef Ben Williamson (The Euro/Urbane, Cha Cha Char, Enoteca), Gerardʼs is a  next generation bistro.

“Bistro here is more about a style of dining than a style of food. While Gerardʼs remains big on being informal and approachable, weʼve tried to take the nosh up a notch. Weʼre applying contemporary techniques to traditional cuisines and taking inspiration from southern Europe, the Middle East and northern Africa. The focus is on seasonal local produce and exciting flavours.

“Gerardʼs aims to be more of a destination—more of an experience—than the cosy home-away-from-home you may think of as bistro. Both the restaurant and the menu reflect this.”

The interior at Gerard’s is pretty wow. It’s is an elegant blend of fine lines, sharp angles and smooth finishes with earthy marble, concrete, brick, timber combined with smooth steel, brass, copper and glass. The solid concrete bar, dominates one end, is something to be seen propped at. Artisan Moroccan tiles and bespoke fittings add special touches throughout while the furnishings are generously proportioned and comfortably plush. Despite the glass walls it was pleasantly quiet dining.

The kitchen, with its jeans and t-shirt clad crew, is open to engage with patrons.

Ben says heʼs looking forward to making great cuisine with people who know how to run a great bar.

“Whatʼs exciting for me about working with these guys is the opportunity to dedicate a portion of the menu to bar cuisine—small portions, big flavours, perfect accompaniments. We have interesting wines by the glass. The staff  knows their stuff and what works with what. Everything on the menu is designed to be flexible and interactive—encouraging sharing, mixing and matching. Itʼs serious food, done in a fun way.”

Apart from the massive bar, nothing at Gerardʼs is set in stone. The barman-cum-restaurateur
Elie is keen to get the balance right—bar and bistro, menu and venue.

“Weʼve learnt a thing or two about service and ambiance. A bar isnʼt just about drinks. And a restaurant isnʼt just about food. Good food and service should be a given. I think the people who come to your venue deserve a reward. We owe them an experience.”

Gerardʼs fare will be priced around $4 to $12 for bar plates, $12 to $22 for small plates, $22 to $40 for large plates and $12 to $14 for desserts.

I found this another hard to choose from menu because too many dishes appealed. I had a wow moment with my first mouthful of the flathead surrounded by smoked potato and garlic puree, which continued with the goji berry rice and the fried potato.  And let's not forget the quails eggs at the start.

Crisp, soft-fried quailʼs eggs with onion purée, burnt pencil leek, sour grapes and green raisins

Roasted heirloom vegetables with spiced crumble, anchovy and shanklish

Flathead and marron with smoked potato and garlic purée, chanterelles and truffle

Goji, cranberry, pistachio and almond rice

Fried potato, green chilli and coriander

Suckling pig with Jerusalem artichoke, pear and walnut tarator.

Bottom line: Great food, worth a try
Top tip:  There's parking in the building on the floors above.

Gerard's Bistro
Shop 14/15 James Street, Fortitude Valley p 3852 3822

Disclaimer:  E,d+bK was a guest of James Street.

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