2017 Australian Restaurant Guide

Our 2017 Australian Restaurant Guide is out now, celebrating the best eats in Australia. Find it in all good newsagents nationwide.

Subscribe to Gourmet

Subscribe to Australian Gourmet Traveller before August 1, 2016 and you’ll go into the draw to win your choice of adventure!

Gourmet on your iPad

Subscribe to Gourmet Traveller for your iPad.

Bar of the year 2010: Gerald's Bar, Melbourne

Gerald Diffey has worked at and with some of Victoria's great names - Karen Martini, Rita Macali, Tansy Good and Stefano de Pieri among them - and has spread his affable charm wherever he's appeared. But it's at his small bar in Rathdowne Street, Carlton, propped next door to the pizza cacophony that is La Porchetta, that he seems to have distilled all that experience into one idiosyncratic, unique and thoroughly enjoyable package.

Gerald's Bar is not about crack mixology or voluminous lists of benchmark labels. The half-net curtains in the front window immediately put paid to any notions of cutting-edge design. Instead there's a stylish hominess to the surrounds. A turntable and valve-amp sit behind the bar under shelves bearing curious objets trouvés and a compact, carefully curated collection of quality booze that make this everything a grown-up could want in a watering hole.

One of Diffey's more recent ports of call before opening the bar was as sommelier at Stefano's, and the swarms of off-duty sommeliers and wine writers here speak well of the sort of things you're likely to find on-pour on any given day. Chefs, too, have claimed it as their own, whether it's Bar Lourinhã's Matt McConnell propping up the bar or Heston Blumenthal dropping by for a cheeky glass of absinthe downed to the strains of The Specials.

The Melbourne Wine Room's Karen Martini first worked with Diffey as a young apprentice, and describes him as a most likeable character with a story for every occasion. "He has always been cool," she says. "Maybe it's the constant mischievous twinkle in his eye that makes him so very welcoming a barman." Stefano de Pieri, another regular, likes the way the place feels. "You're surrounded by the objects of Gerald's past," he says. "Whether it's a pack of cards or a leaflet from the labour movement, they're displayed without affectation because they're Gerald." 

Perhaps Gerald's Bar's true charm lies in its inclusive nature. Everything on the wine list - a meticulously selected mix of Old and New World labels that steers clear of the obvious and the overpriced - is potentially available by the glass (whatever is ordered first becomes the by-the-glass selection for that evening). The food, cooked by Gerald, is simple, comforting and inexpensive and the eclectic vinyl selection always seems to include at least one track that will have you counting the beat. Best of all, Gerald's is a place where you feel as comfortable (and as welcome) on your own as in a group. And that is the sign of a bar that understands the true nature of bar-dom.

Gerald's Bar, 386 Rathdowne St, Carlton North, Vic, (03) 9349 4748

WORDS MICHAEL HARDEN PHOTOGRAPHY TIM JAMES

This article is from the September 2009 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.

Newsletter

Sign up to receive the latest food, travel and dining news direct from Gourmet Traveller headquarters.

Latest news
Fratelli Paradiso to open a second branch … in Tokyo
25.08.2016
Sydney's Master restaurant has closed
24.08.2016
Gateway Sydney: the new-look Circular Quay
17.08.2016
The Gourmet Traveller 2017 Restaurant Awards
17.08.2016
Salads by Yield
17.08.2016
Long Chim Sydney to host Gourmet Traveller's Restaurant Awards
16.08.2016
GT
Signature Collection

Find out more about the Gourmet Traveller Signature Collection by Robert Gordon Australia, including where to buy it in store and online.

Read More
Twenty
things to do this autumn

Whether it's foraging for wild mushrooms in a picturesque Victorian forest or watching a film by moonlight in Darwin, we've got you covered with 20 exciting autumn experiences from around Australia.

Read More
Gourmet TV

Check out our YouTube channel for our latest cover recipes, chef cooking demos, interviews and more.

Watch Now

You might also like...

Akachochin

The new CBD-fringe suburb of South Wharf is still a mystery...

Albert Street Food & Wine

Philippa Sibley may have left the building, but Albert St F...

Alchemy

Expansive river views, experienced wait-staff and an accomp...

Ananas Bar & Brasserie

With a soundtrack laden with dance beats and a dark, moody ...

Appellation

To celebrate its sense of place, Appellation makes a grand ...

Andre’s Cucina & Polenta Bar

Andre's kitchen has progressed significantly since opening ...

Aria

Grilled heart of palm with white beetroot and quinoa. Scall...

Aria Brisbane

Matt Moran's northern outpost sticks closely to the templat...

Attica

Attica now has the profile of a first-grade fine-diner (and...

Aubergine

The grey-whiskered Ben Willis could pass for a maturing, bu...

Auge

After more than a decade as a serious fine diner focused on...

Azuma

Azuma makes a hushed refuge within a shopping plaza, and wi...

Annie Smithers' Bistrot

Annie Smithers may have decamped for Du Fermier, but the bi...

Aquitaine Brasserie

The name is a nod to France's south-west gastronomic heartl...

Alpha

While the interiors give Alpha a feeling of modernity, Pete...

get the latest news

Sign up to receive the latest food, travel and dining news direct from Gourmet Traveller headquarters.

×