Gerald’s Bar

Christmas is over and everyone needs a drink to recover.  Gerald’s Bar in Carlton might be just the spot to indulge.  Wine is supposed to be the main event at Gerald’s Bar.  After all the bar has won awards for its lengthy wine list and “first come, first served” open bottle policy (five whites and five reds are open at any one time) .  However the food at the bar is so good that it the cuisine at Gerald’s Bar may just be trying to steal the spotlight from the booze.

Gerald’s Bar already looks like an institution that has been around for years

Right next to La Porchetta’s on Rathdowne street, Gerald’s Bar has limited seating with some tables out the front, a handful inside and lots of stools on which to prop up the heavily laden bar.  The place has the feeling of somewhere that has been around for ages (despite the fact it is a relative newcomer) with net curtains on the windows, a ladder that slides along the bar to get to those tricky top shelf spirits and vinyls turning on a record player.  I went there for my annual book club Christmas party so we ignored the daily changing menu and opted for the group menu a bargain $50 per person in which you leave all choices in the hands of the chefs at Gerald’s Bar.

Each course was a surprise to us which only added to the novelty of the experience.  To start, sparklingly fresh oysters served in the shell and topped with tiny crisp pieces of bacon.  Then came slices of thick chicken terrine flecked with pistachio nuts and served with toasted bread and chutney.

Chicken terrine

A vibrantly flavoured salad featured torn, creamy mozzarella with chunks of smoked tomato and was followed by slices of slow cooked pork on a bed of oozing mashed potato.   However the total superhero dish of the night was the whole baked ocean trout which was encased in a thick salt crust.  The theatre of the dish was amazing with the crust cracked open to reveal pink, pearly and perfectly cooked fish.

Smoked tomato and mozzarella salad

We finished the meal with a scoop of intensely rich chocolate ice-cream.  Simple but glorious stuff.     As for that helpful and encyclopedic wine list? We didn’t use it at all.  Instead we relied on our waitress who, while a bit unhelpful at times (we had to ask three times for butter with our bread), was a total wine guru when it came to recommending what vino we should imbibe.  If you go, order the sparkling rosé from Bendigo ($40), sensational, and not too sweet.

From oysters to a whole salt encrusted ocean trout this was not your typical money-pinching-set-group-menu nor was it standard simple bar food.  Instead it was food with personality and pizzaz which pretty much hogged the lime light from the brilliant wine list.  Perhaps the place should be renamed Gerald’s Restaurant instead of Gerald’s Bar.

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Details: Gerald’s Bar, 386 Rathdowne Street  Carlton North, Vic 3054, Australia (Ph +61 3 9349 4748) Open: Mon – Sat 5pm – 11pm, Sun closed.
Damage: Reasonable.  The set menu is $50 a person.  With (a lot of) drinks and a tip we paid about $80 each.

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  1. hey there 🙂 the smoked tomato and mozzarella salad tempts me! would love to try cooking it at home

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  2. The chicken terrine looks delicious! What kind of chutney was it served with?

  3. A nice find. And how useful that the waitress was great at recommending wine!

  4. Fish – I know, I want to try it at home as well.

    Kyleen – So sorry Kyleen but I have no idea, I didn’t ask at the time and we couldn’t quite work out what it was. I will have to go back and investigate!

    Andi – It was.

    Lorraine – It makes such a difference if you have someone giving great advice I think.

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