Gerard's Bar, James Street, Fortitude Valley

It doesn't feel like Brisbane is what the opening night crowd was saying about the new Gerard’s Bistro in Brisbane's burgeoning James Street food precinct.

It's tucked away at the rear of Gerard’s restaurant with street frontage that opens to the access lane and carpark.  A little bit hidden but with an open air courtyard sure to be filled with the buzz of voices that will lead the curious to the land of plenty.

The decor is ultra modern with polished concrete everywhere from the walls to the benches, and a long bar that morphs into a kitchen at the rear.  You are going to love it.

Gerard's head chef  Ben Williamson has developed a menu based around the star of the bar - the giant charcuterie cabinet come window that is the bar's shop front. While it's a feast for lovers of fine jamon, pancetta and proscuitto, vegans and vegetarians have not been overlooked.

Ben describes the salted, roasted, dried cellariac that hangs sausage-style in the window as 'ham' for vegetarians.  While I can't get quite as enthusiastic about the flavour as I would about a thin slice of jamon iberco, I did appreciate the texture of the thin slices of vegan cold cuts as they rolled off the red slicing machine.  Put them with the house pickled vegetables and you have a bar snack like no other (see opening photo).

If you can drag your eyes away from the charcuterie, there's also a fine selection of cheese, pate, spanish preserves and oysters to sample. For something more substantial, delve into the snack menu's mahi mahi tartare, cheeseburger, ruben minis and finish with licorice jelly with candied fennel and sarsparilla granita.

Here's some of the opening night action.

How does it work?  You pick your meat, or in this case a vegan cold cut, it's freshly sliced before your eyes, and presented with your selection of pickled vegetables.

It is, of course, another venue from the polished Moubment Group who also operate Hatch & Co, Larouche and Lychee Lounge.

The bar will be open seven days a week from 2pm till late.

Kerry Heaney