While the pandemic tried its best to push us apart, it seems that the spirit of community has generally strengthened. And as we re-emerge into this new world, we’re being more considerate of others and investing our time with the right kind of people. It has encouraged us to reconnect and be present, savour the freedoms that we used to take for granted and spend more time doing the things we like to do, rather than just the things we were once forced to.

Some might say that opening a suburban bar during a time like this might be crazy, but I reckon that Good Gilbert arrived at exactly the right moment. The venue itself was designed with comfort and community in mind. Owner and main-man behind the bar, Wilson Shawyer, is clearly a fan of collecting and commissioning wine-centric art, especially from local artists, such as Billie Justice whose bespoke Pol Roger mural stands larger than life on the outside wall.

And while on the topic of large format bottles, Good Gilbert was always designed with one thing at the forefront: the ability to accommodate an outrageous amount of wine. The list is daunting on a first read, but as you work your way through the pages it becomes obvious that this is a list designed for all drinking levels. When it comes to Chardonnay or Chablis I consider myself an expert, at least when it comes to drinking. But for those of us that don’t know our Barolo from Beaujolais, the Good Gilbert crew are always there to guide you, glass by glass if it comes to it.

In its early days Good Gilbert came bearing gifts of delicious wine, the offer of great company and good conversation, and a collaborative but sporadic food offering, where they invited some of their transient chef friends to take up temporary residences or pop-ups in the kitchen. From bar snacks to bagels, noodles and everything in between, it was only when they locked in a more permanent kitchen team that Good Gilbert began firing on all cylinders. Then, with the departure of interim chef Jack Tonkin a few months ago, the hunt was on for someone new.

Enter Brisbane ex-pat Sav Sexton – a chef with a culinary CV that features some notable Queensland venues and a simple, produce-driven style of cooking that has received a decent amount of recognition for someone with a relatively short career. Sav’s style, and the compact Good Gilbert kitchen, clearly influences a short but succinct menu. Nothing listed here seems to be without purpose: I can only imagine the restraint required when designing these dishes, especially when there is such a long list of unique and interesting international wines and other drinks just waiting to be matched.

Arriving exactly as listed in the snacks section, a tin of Olasagasti Anchovies is served simply with a bowl of tiny cloves of confit garlic and a few slices of lightly browned toast. There’s no real need for any extra ingredients in this DIY sandwich that features the best of the Bay of Biscay, aside from some good olive oil and sprinkle of fresh chives.

A little more local, some just shucked Smoky Bay Oysters are served with a splash of dry sherry vinaigrette and a bottle of Tabasco for those that need a little kick. We agree that they don’t. The oysters retain that satisfactory saltwater taste with a little zing from the vinegar and hint of dusty sweetness from the sherry. And then it’s on to more seafood presented in a very different format: a small brioche that arrives with a side of crisps. A take on a classic typically made with chicken, this is a Hot Crab Hero. The bun, toasted on the outside, has a creamy mornay-like centre that explodes with flavour considering the short list of ingredients used.

Good Gilbert’s fancy sausage roll. Supplied image

And then Sav’s first nod to nostalgia – a dish that is presented as a humble sausage roll with sauce. But within its flaky pastry crust hides a delicious Boudin Noir – blood sausage. Don’t be alarmed by the main ingredient, the low and slow cooking process reduces all of the liquid into a solid centre, resulting in sausage with flavour of epic proportions, when compared with a typical snag. In place of trusty tomato sauce is a house-made sugo and, combined, these are the perfect match to a glass of Mencia, a Spanish varietal hailing all the way from Mount Benson on the Limestone Coast. Wangolina is a small wine brand with a growing cult following, and this particular drop just took out the trophy for best alternative wine at the Limestone Coast Wine Show.

Murray Cod has deep flavour. Supplied image

Next, Good Gilbert gets more serious. Tonight’s market fish is Murray Cod prepared a la grecque; typically, this is a simple recipe, with the most important ingredient being time. And it’s obvious that Good Gilbert has invested plenty of time in their version, with a depth of flavour in each bite. Beautifully presented with a simple side of baby leeks and fresh dill, the lightly charred fillet sits in a pool of viscous sauce with an oniony fragrance and an herbaceous flavour.

Custard slice – not your usual schoolyard snack. Supplied image

Then onto dessert where nostalgia hits again with a simply plated custard slice – but this is no schoolyard snack. Good Gilbert’s version is a fresh batch of fluffy custard sandwiched between layers of flaky puff pastry and served with side of Luxardo Maraschino cherries. Typically reserved for use in cocktails, the cherries are a delicious accompaniment to slice, with their rich, sweet, sour and deep almond flavours offering a counterbalance to the slightly sweetened custard. It’s the only dessert on the menu tonight, but we’re very happy it’s there.

And we’re happy that Good Gilbert is here too. They really are the right kind of people, serving the right kind of food, matched with the right kind of wine. It’s a place where simplicity is key, and community is at the heart of everything that they serve or pour.

Good Gilbert

135B Goodwood Rd, Goodwood

Phone: 0434 130 081

goodgilbert.com

hello@goodgilbert.com

Open:
Wednesday: 3pm to 11pm
Thursday: 3pm to 12am
Friday: Midday to 1am
Saturday: Midday to 1am
Sunday: 11am to 9pm

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