Gerald's Bar is more than just an idiosyncratic local for Carlton North residents. It's the definition of what us grown ups want in a small bar: a relaxed atmosphere, golden service, and a compact, but considered menu. Owner, Gerald Diffey, makes strange sense out of Nan's lace curtains, of kitsch sporting paraphernalia, a stupendously broad wine list, vintage vinyl, and a food menu that changes daily. And this is exactly why we love him.
Diffey's wine list is expert, comes with recommendations (a fairly scarce find these days), and caters to both international and local tastes. The entire wine list is potentially available by-the-glass at Gerald's – a selection of three reds, three whites, and one sparkling will be open at any one time throughout the evening depending on what customers pick first and next – so choose wisely. And of course, there's also Diffey's first-rate stable of fine liquors adoring the shelves across the walls for your tippling pleasure.
The menu rejoices in local produce and offers a variety of European comfort food. The cured meats, sardines, pickled vegetables or imported cheese (smaller dishes $12 - $15) will tickle the grazer's fancy, while the pork belly or Gerald's fried chicken (larger dishes $20 - $25/$30) are more suited to those seeking out something more substantial. Food will be ordered from the hand-written menu on butcher's paper that hangs from the sliding ladder behind the bar, just one of our favourite Geraldy quirks.
Every nook and cranny of this place oozes cosy, out-of-the way small bar. Gerald's may very well have put an end to the bar-hopping tendencies of industry folk with its atmospheric booze-den perfection. A package of charming décor, affable staff, and enviable food and beverage excellence, Gerald's is North Carlton's unchallenged gem.