I want to start by saying that I drove myself to Gerard’s Bar with every intention of driving home after the menu launch. However, I very quickly ditched my driving responsibilities to eat and drink the night away, along with almost everyone else there that night. If that’s not a sign of a good night, I don’t know what is.
This hidden gem is tucked in an alleyway of shops on James Street and is the perfect spot for after-work drinks and snacks, or a weekend dinner catch up. Since opening in 2014, Gerard’s Bistro’s little sister, Gerard’s Bar has been known as both a bar and charcuterie house, with their cured meats all made in house. Originally made as a holding place for diners to grab a drink and nibbles before their dinner reservation at Gerard’s Bistro, Gerard’s bar is now so much more than that. It’s no surprise that Gerard’s Bar proudly stands on its own, drawing customers in, both new and regular, with their carefully curated array of drinks as well as delicious dishes.
In 2019 Adam Wolfers was brought into the Gerard’s Bar family as head chef. Wolfers began his culinary career in the Sydney kitchens of Est. and Marque, moving up the ranks as Sous Chef before travelling overseas to New York and Spain to further his training. This year he has taken full control of the menu at Gerard’s Bar. Wolfers has imagined up an array of dishes that will transport customers straight to the Middle East, while continuing Gerard’s Bar’s ethos of shared dining. This new menu is packed full of seasonal produce and harmonious flavours and spices, with most dishes made in the bar’s newly custom-built fire oven. What’s better is that their wine and liquor lists are specifically chosen to complement these delicious middle eastern dishes.
Upon arrival to the modern yet cosy bar on Wednesday night, I was greeted by the bar’s owner, Johnny Moubarak and his friendly and welcoming team. After a couple of delicious cocktails, including their Delightful Turk (a crowd favourite), we were seated in front of the open kitchen. Here we were able to see our food being carefully prepared by the man himself, Adam Wolfers, and his sou chef.
The first thing that stood out to me was how accommodating the kitchen was with allergies. Both the chefs and waiters made sure my dishes were gluten free and peanut free, while still providing me with meals that were equally as beautiful and delicious. Just let the kitchen know and they will happily accommodate for allergies, as well as for vegans and vegetarians.
Now, let’s get stuck into the new menu!
First, we were served Armenian cucumber, topped with sesame seeds and labne, which is halfway between Greek yoghurt and cream cheese. The sesame topped cucumber was accompanied by Kibbeh Nayyeh (a raw minced lamb marinated in deliciously punchy flavours) and a malt pita baked in their custom-build oven. As a gluten free alternative, they provided lettuce cups – the crunch and freshness of the lettuce complimented the mince wonderfully. Call me crazy but I love myself a crunchy lettuce cup. The freshness of this dish was perfectly paired with a cold glass of Alto! Alto! Sangiovese Rose.
Next up, we tasted the house-baked Laffa Bread, topped with no waste za’atar (a spice mixture comprising of herbs, spices, salt, roasted sumac, toasted sesame seeds, as well as vegetable remnants like leaves from carrots and other veggies). The gluten free alternative to the Laffa bread was just as delicious – a pancake style flat-bread, packed with sesame seeds.
To compliment the Laffa bread, we were served with succulent spanner crab tabouli, as well as babaganouj, which was tucked away in a softened eggplant. Cutting the eggplant and witnessing the creamy babaganouj oozing out was very satisfying indeed. Each element was beautiful on its own, but absolutely magical when eaten together, and even more magical accompanied by BK Wines Pinot Grigio.
For our last savoury dish, we were served with Lamb neck znoud el sit with harissa yoghurt – a savoury spin on a classic sweet Lebanese pastry. My gluten free option was wrapped in a delicately charred cabbage leaf, which was the perfect substitute. To accompany the znoud el sit, we were served with Falls Farm tomatoes in green garlic and I will say this now – I have never tasted tomatoes so juicy and so flavoursome in my life. I may be biased because I adore garlic, but none-the-less, it was gorgeous. My unbiased and still-developing wine pallet, however, was pleasantly surprised by how well the Rising Gamay complemented the meal.
Our final dish for the night was dessert – an essential end to any meal. Anybody who doesn’t finish their night with a little something sweet is soulless! OK, maybe not soulless, but you know what I mean… Anyway, for dessert we were served with fennel pollen malabi, which is a milk pudding made from rice, sugar, rice flour and milk. The malabi was topped with safron syrup, giving the pudding a rich yellow glow. Scattered over the silky pudding was a roasted white chocolate crumb, making for the ultimate texture combo. As I anti-socially indulged myself in the dessert, I sipped away at a refreshing Amaro Montenegro. The botanic flavours of this digestif complimented the fennel malabi perfectly.
As you can probably tell, I was very happy and full by the end of our three-hour menu tasting. I then proceeded to say my goodbyes, abandon my car in the parking lot, catch a ride home with my partner, and fall promptly asleep while still sitting up. If you want to end your night as happy and full-bellied as I did, I would highly recommend trying their new menu.
Gerard’s Bar’s new menu launched on Thursday the 22nd, so make sure to pop in and graze your way through the wonderful Middle Eastern dishes they now have on offer.