The only way to explain Gerald’s Bar, is to describe the man behind it. Gerald Diffey is a trendsetter, a connoisseur and an endearingly cheeky bastard. He has been behind, or heavily involved in pretty much every major food and drink revolution in Melbourne over the past 20 years, and the resulting experiences and network of industry allies has prepared him, and readied Melbourne, for this, his best contribution to the scene.
Small, quaint, out of the way yet constantly buzzing, Gerald’s Bar has been open for just five years but it feels as established as the concept of drinking itself. Together with his team of wisecracking bartenders (don’t believe a word that they say - unless it directly relates to food or wine), they service not just the discerning Carlton North locals, but industry loyalists from home and abroad drawn by Diffey’s affable charm and good taste – and front man Mario Di Lenno’s blatant yet hilarious lies.
Gerald’s trusty crew truly understands the subtle and somewhat dying art of great service. Your wine typically comes with a recommendation, a back-story and if they like you, a practical joke. If, however, you prefer to be left in peace to mull over a chilled Chablis, they will unobtrusively and promptly fill your glass with the ghostly discretion of an Edwardian butler. As such, the bar is a sanctuary for industry professionals, writers and food fans.
Closely resembling the world cup line up, the wine list has Italy, France, Germany and Spain jostling with robust Australian contenders. Covering a wide budget spectrum, bottles start from an easy $45 and head uptown for those who want to enjoy their old world wine amidst the old world charm of the warmly lit space.
The bar, bedecked with photographic mementos and fine food and wine paraphernalia, sports a handwritten menu pinned to a sliding ladder. Favouring simple European comfort food, the offerings are freshly sliced cured meats, pickled vegetables, white anchovies and terrines, plus a handful of daily dishes such as prosciutto with melon sorbet, or a more substantial offering of melting pork belly with white bean ragout.
Entirely without frills (except for the frilly curtains) the décor, food and service has an effortless charm. Gerald’s epitomises everything we love about eating, drinking, and Melbourne, and for this we give Diffey and his motley crew a well-earned tip of the hat.