Gerard’s Bistro has developed a reputation as a place for fine dining. On the back of that comes Gerard’s Bar, for more casual drinks and food. A attraction of the bar, besides the drinks, is the selection of sausages and preserved meats. Jamon, pancetta, a range of such things.. Given that I don’t drink, and that I am not enough of a fan of random meats to go somewhere specifically to eat slices of them (unless they come in giant burger form with other amazing accoutrements), the draw to go to Gerard’s Bar was something else.
It was the promise of ramen.
They have started doing ramen on Wednesday nights, and the flyer talks about their free range, macadamia-fed pigs. Doesn’t that make for a hearty winter treat? With the treks we’ve made for ramen elsewhere, this seemed a short trip for deliciousness.
Attemping to get there, one has to wonder if they made it deliberately hard to find so that it would seem underground and more exclusive. It is in the same are as Gerard’s Bistro, but you have to walk around the back of the block, and across a dark carpark, until you spy a lighted concrete pillar across the way with what seem to be hieroglyphs running down it, which turn out to be letters that spell out Gerard’s Bar in awkward lighting. Also soon to appear in view are slabs of meat hanging in a glass window, the cured viandes that are its selling point.
The place is intimately lighted. The seating is almost entirely counter seating, which may work if you are only there with a friend or two, but makes conversation difficult if there are more people there and you are trying to have food as well, because those in the middle will always feel that their heads are getting in the way of exchange between those at either end. There are maybe two small tables that four people could sit at, but beyond that, it doesn’t seem to cater for groups.
We had some salume to start with. From the comprehensive list, we picked the Loganisa Roja, a cured salami made from Australian wild boar, spiced with moorish accents. It was served with bread and an assortment of pickled vegetables, so you do get more than some sliced sausages on a plate. It was nicely presented, but I can’t say that I could taste moorish accents. I may be a heathen, but fancy cured sausages..are still sausages, and the texture of cured sausages just doesn’t do it for me, with the random gristly bits.
But to the main thing we came for: the ramen. As previously mentioned, there was a lot promised in the description. Given all the porky things on the menu, they had quality ingredients to work with. So when the bowls of ramen fianlly arrived, with the sliced goey-yolk half egg and thicker than usual slices of pork arranged on the surface of the broth, we anticipated a treat.
When we actually started tasting though.. The broth didn’t have the richness and hearty depth of flavour that a good tonkotsu should. It tasted a bit like pork soup, but not boiled-for-over-12-hours concentrated liquid pork goodness. (Have I mentioned Muso Ramen yet?) And the noodles were doughy rather than springy, and clumps of them were not properly cooked and still stuck together. They did get the egg right, and the thick pork slices were tender, but as a whole, it was a disappointment.
If you like ramen, sorry, but this is not the place for you. If you know how to appreciate salume, it may suit you better.
Price point: Salume: from $10 to $10 a serve, depending on which ones you get. Ramen: $15 (we had expected it to cost a lot more because of the location.)
Address: 13A/23 James Street, Fortitude Valley
Phone: 3252 2606
Website: Gerard’s Bar