Gerard’s Bistro – a top Brisbane pick!


As Queensland’s best restaurant in the 2016 Australia’s Top 100 Restaurants, Gerard’s Bistro has been on my wishlist all year.


Tucked away off Little James Street in Fortitude Valley, there’s a mix of indoor and outdoor seating.

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The menu is filled with interesting and innovative dishes based on Syrian, Jordanian and Lebanese cuisines.

Before my visit, I’d trawled the reviews and Instagram and come up with a fine short list.

Smaller Plates

Laham nayyeh, harissa, preserved lime, shallot, pickled cucumber, egg yolk $24

Grilled octopus, carrots cooked in black garlic, coal oil, almonds $26

Bekaa wings, kishk yoghurt, rose $18

Larger Plates

Confit southern squid, mussels, hazelnut milk, warrigal greens, kishk $32

Fried cauliflower, tahini, ras el hanout, pomegranate, almond $16

Slow-roasted wagyu brisket for two with seasonal accompaniments $62


Sheep’s yoghurt sorbet, honeycomb, milk and orange blossom $16

Charred eggplant sorbet, tahini crumb, cacao and Arabic coffee $16

Valrhona chocolate ice cream, candied chilli, Aleppo pepper ganache $18

Plant and non-plant dishes are separated and the menu is perfectly designed for sharing.

So I knew I would be challenged because I was dining alone! What to do??

I was immensely jealous of those around me who were choosing from my short list too, but had fellow diners to share with. But I was just glad to finally be here and was determined not to waste this precious opportunity.

Being a great sweet tooth, I toyed with the idea of just maxing out the desserts, but landed on the signature dish Fried cauliflower, tahini, ras el hanout, pomegranate, almond…


…and the intriguing Charred eggplant sorbet, tahini crumb, cacao and Arabic coffee crisp.


The cauliflower was wonderful and great value for just $16. Only lightly fried the cauliflower was fresh and still had a little crunch. The tahini sauce was a perfect match and the pomegranate was a tart burst contrast. But having said that, it is best shared as a full plate for one is not ideal. I think maybe I should have gone with the confit squid, octopus or laham neyyah or indulged that thought to try the Fried lambs brains, quail blood morcilla, warm tahini, dried yoghurt $26 or the Smoked lamb sweetbreads, mushroom and white garlic, almond, buttermilk $23.

The eggplant sorbet did indeed have a charred flavour, as promised and was a little less sweet that I’d expected. But the generous sweet tahini crumb, like a halva, was a lovely accompaniment. The cacao and coffee crisp was also a wonderful addition. Not for everyone I’m sure, but I still remember enjoying it with great fondness and would absolutely need to order it again next time.

And next time – I need to take lots of friends with me!

Breakfast on the weekend would also be awesome – again – next time!

But perhaps the most impressive aspect, besides the food, is the service. It’s impeccable! Dining alone is never easy, but the staff made me feel special and incredibly welcome even though I could only order so little. From the eye contact and smile when I arrived, to the timey attention and concern about my enjoyment and satisfaction. I was immensely impressed by the staff.

PS if you need somewhere great to stay with a pool nearby that you’d feel comfortable walking to Gerard’s Bistro alone, try M&A apartments. 


Open for dinner – Mon: 6:00pm – Late
Open Tues – Sun: 12:00 pm – Late
Open for breakfast – Sat & Sun: 8am – 11am

Gerard's Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Harbour View Hotel, The Rocks 


Down at the rocks in Sydney is the Harbour View Hotel, a laid back, unpretentious place for a friendly, casual and good value meal with a heritage feel.

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Parking is not too hard and it’s easy to book a table.


Wine by the glass starts at $7.50 and the Harvey River Shiraz is a generous pour and a good choice.

The kangaroo salad is one of the best picks.


Kangaroo salad-  $22 with zucchini, pumpkin, red onion, macadamia, coriander & mint in a dukkah lemon dressing

The fish and chips are excellent too.

Beer battered market fresh fish & chips $20 with mesclun & tartare sauce

Other choices include the club sandwich…


Chicken, bacon, avocado, tomato, baby cos lettuce & aoili, with fries $16…

..Lamb shanks braised in red wine & mirepoix vegetables $26 Served with green beans, roasted tomato & creamy mash potato ( quite good)


The hamburger was voted by our group as the least of the options $16 – 100% wagyu beef patty, pickles, cheese, lettuce, tomato relish, onion ring and fries


A good choice would also be the Mezze dips and breads for two $24.

It’s close walking down to the Sydney Theatre Company at Walsh Bay, but there’s also Fratelli Fresh down there for an equally good experience.


The Harbour View Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato






Hartsyard, Enmore Road, Newtown


Hartsyard is just one of the hatted restaurants on Enmore Road (and very helpfully just across the road from the Urban Hotel).

Focusing on American style dishes, it’s famous for it’s fried chicken and biscuit and the soft serve desssert of the week!

Especially good choices for sharing were the….

Smoked Trout with onion dip, golden beet, trout roe, bagel chips $29

….the signature dish Fried Chicken with  buttermilk biscuit, low country sausage gravy $33

A generous serve with four pieces to share and two delicious pieces of soft buttery biscuit.

Perfect with the hot sauce.

Hartsyard soft serve of the day- this time banana with rich caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, shaved chocolate and whipped cream – must be shared! $20

But other excellent choices are the cauliflower dish and the mushroom dish, next time!

Hartsyard Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Hawker Lane, Westfield Chatswood – a first look


The Good Food Guide to Sydney calls out Hawker Lane as one of Chatswood’s good cheap eats.

And very good it is!

While still a food court by nature, it does have more ambiance and is clearly popular.


Excellent choices were the steamed pork dumplings with soup $8.80 for 8…


…the cumin lamb bun $5.80…


…and my favourite was the Saffron Roast Chicken Kathi Roll $7.90 from Chachu’s Street Style Kathi Rolls.

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The perfect finale was a sea salt and purple yam soft serve from Aqua S.

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ChaChu's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Maha – my Melbourne CBD favourite


Maha is my firm Melbourne favourite for lunch or dinner.


The $35 per person weekday two course lunch, like the two course dinner, offers a lovely range of Lebanese flavours and textures to share.

But it’s hard not to go for the three course $45 pp menu which was fabulous.

First course


local olives, fel fel


cauliflower hummus, chicken, cashews, parsley

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olive oil braised potatoes and beans, marjoram, black olive


arak pickled cucumber, fennel fronds, labneh


chemen cured swordfish, kewpie mayo, preserved lemon and shallot


Second course


12 hour slow roasted lamb shoulder, cumin, coriander, sumac, St David’s labneh


char grilled victorian calamari, saffron, tomato, hamsi toast

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charred brocolini and winter greens


Third course

peppermint crisp ice cream, pomegranate creme, semolina, chocolate, pine nut crumb


The decor and service are welcoming and stylish.


The staff even thoughtfully surprised us to mark the special occassion we were celebrating!


The staff work together well as a team and are clearly proud of the Maha experience.
Maha Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Spring Street Grocer – A gourmet Treasure Trove in the Melbourne CBD


Spring Street Grocer, next to the Princess Theatre, is a gourmet treasure trove.

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There’s an impressive cheese cellar, down a quirky spiral staircase.

But my highlight is the icecream. Flavours are unusual, but delicious, like salted caramel and Wattleseed, citrus and yogurt, cardamom and pistachio.

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Open everyday until late, it’s my go to spot for Melbourne CBD icecream.

Spring Street Grocer Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The European, Spring Street, Melbourne CBD


The European on Spring Street is number 65 of the 100 Top Australian Restaurants and spoken of fondly by locals.

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Popular for breakfast it had good coffee and fruit toast $9.50

But it was hard to see why reviewers might have chosen it for the the top100 as the menu and service was similar to many others.

The European Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Embla, Melbourne CBD


Embla is hot news, having featured in September’s Gourmet Traveller and being listed as number 30 on the list of the top 100 Australian Restaurants.

It matches great wines with simple but successful share plates.

It’s open long and useful hours (but not Sunday’s).

It also has great desserts like the Apple Blossom Creme Caramel $10..


..and the Anise ice cream with mint and preserved pineapple $10


Very approachable and unpretentious!

It matches great wines with simple but successful share plates.

It’s open long and useful hours (but not Sunday’s).

Embla Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Chin Chin Flinders Lane, Melbourne CBD


Chin Chin on Flinders Lane is just plain fun. It’s also number 34 of the 100 Top Australian Restaurants.


No bookings but the wait was useful. It gave us time to check the Instagram feed against the menu.


But it was still hard to choose.


We went for the Braised Duck Red Curry with Thai Basil, Son in Law Egg and Coconut Rice $35…


…..and the Green Papaya Salad with Chargrilled Red Chilli, Prawn Floss, Peanuts and Black Beans and Nam Jam $18.50


Good choices, but I suspect the Aromatic Yellow Curry of Roast Pumpkin, Chargrilled Tofu and Green Beans $23.50 with steamed rice $4.50 with perhaps the BBQ Cuttlefish Som Tum with Green Papaya Salad, pickled tomato, burnt green chilli, peanuts and Nam Jim might have been a better curry pick.

Popular was also the Salad of Shredded Chicken and Tom Yum poached prawns with Vietnamese slaw and coriander $24.50 and the Kingfish Sashimi with lime, chilli, coconut and Thai basil $23.



Chin Chin Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Movida Bar de Tapas, Hosier Lane, Melbourne CBD


Movida on Hosier Lane is number 24 of the 100 Top Australian Restaurants and famous for its tapas.

We were determined to work through as many tapas as we could.

ANCHOA $4.50 each – Hand-filleted Cantabrian Artisan Anchovy on Crouton with Smoked Tomato Sorbet

CROQUETA $4.50 each – Mushroom & Blue Cheese Croquette

ANGUILA $5.50 each – Smoked Eel with Celeriac Remoulade & Dried Jamon

CABALLA AHUMADA $6.50 each ( my favourite) – House Cold Smoked Spanish Mackerel with Pine Nut Gazpacho Sorbet

QUESO $4.00 each – Whipped Goat’s Milk Cheese Wrapped in Quince Paste & Brik Pastry

TOSTADA $5.00 each ( our least favourite) – Pressed Pork Sandwich, Tomato Jam & Quail’s Egg

While these small bites might seem costly for their size, they truly are worth it!

But there’s more….

Some lovely roasted mushrooms (about $18) ….

….and a special of pork meatballs in almond cream sauce (about $25).

MoVida Bar De Tapas Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato