Restaurant Reviews

Gerard’s

Sporting a fresh look and an inspired new menu, this reimagined Middle Eastern favourite is entering a new era.
The renovated dining room at Gerard's Brisbane
BRISBANE
Address
4/15 James St, Fortitude Valley

There’s a raw kingfish dish on the menu at Gerard’s, but it’s unlike the dozens of others you’ve seen. Firm slices of fish are draped around semi-dried, chopped eggplant, based on an Egyptian dish called mesa’a’ah, and around the outside is a garlicky yoghurt sauce. It’s kingfish crudo, but not as you know it and a scene-setter for Gerard’s new epoch.

Recently reopening after a five-month renovation, the James Street mainstay has been bolstered by the hiring of executive chef Jimmy Richardson. Previously head chef under Adam Wolfers, Richardson left to pursue an executive chef role at Leonards Bar & Bistro before being drawn back. His first menu includes dishes like savoury awamat (bite-sized Lebanese doughnut balls) and barbari, a type of flatbread that’s cooked over coals until blistered and charred. In short, he’s dialling the Levantine food up a notch (notice the dropping of “bistro” from the name).

Big changes have been made to the interior too. Gone is the dark monotony of its past, the new space is all about texture, drawing inspiration from the temples of Baalbek in Lebanon. Designer Jared Webb incorporated lots of rammed earth, concrete, steel and white fabrics. The result? Middle Eastern tomb meets brutalist architecture for a Brisbane locale. The monochrome room is the perfect canvas for Richardson’s creative food. His clever interpretation of ara’yes, a Lebanese meat-stuffed pita bread, is presented as tiny buckwheat crackers sandwiching kibbeh nayeh, made with lamb mince and candied beetroot.

Kibbeh nayeh at Gerard’s in Brisbane.

There’s also wood smoked mussels, served in their shell with a zingy green muhammara sauce. The highlight, however, proves to be the beef dishes. The first, a take on a shawarma, features skewers of long, thin Westholme wagyu slices. Charred on the outside and rare in the middle, they are topped with a creamy walnut paste. The second sees two impeccable pieces of wagyu rump cap, served with a rich sauce made from tarhana (a dried soup powder from Turkey). And don’t forget to order barbari with mains. The bread is the perfect vessel for juices left on the plate, especially when it comes to the mombar, a succulent Egyptian sausage, made with quail.

Too full for dessert? Nonsense, there’s always room for a little marshmallow. Gerard’s presents its mastic-flavoured mallow camp-fire-style – on a skewer, alongside a glowing ember from the coal-pit.

While a few small issues need addressing – a long wait to order, being offered dessert twice before mains arrived, and some dishes arriving lukewarm – there’s so much to like about the new Gerard’s. It’s bold, unique and fun, while being respectful of its Middle Eastern origins. If its new look was modelled on the temples of Baalbek, then Gerard’s is a shrine for modern Levantine cuisine in Australia.

Gerard’s
Middle Eastern
4/15 James St, Fortitude Valley
Chef(s)
Jimmy Richardson
Price Guide
$$$
Bookings
recommended
Opening Hours
Lunch Fri-Sat; Dinner Mon-Sat
Verdict
New thinking at an old favourite.

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