Friday, 14 December 2018

George Banks Bistro - Review

Yes you're on the right track here: George Banks, Mary Poppins and so on.  This new rooftop bar and bistro sits on top of an old bank in the regional town of Toowoomba.  Toowoomba used to be a quiet, conservative sort of place, full of farmers and countryfolk, but is rapidly heading towards being a hot-spot of bars, cafés and restaurants equal to any in the big city.

Our Insta friend who lives there, made noises about wanting to check out George Banks so I surprised her by saying "Okay, we're heading up in a couple of nights."  And so we did, and we tried out this very new place (our waitress said it had opened only two weeks before on 2 November.)  Once you pass inspection by the security officer, you head up in the lift to the rooftop where you can partake in a drink at the bar, or head into the bistro for a sophisticated meal.

looking into the kitchen from the bistro - love those pendant lamps

The bistro looks like a boardroom, (intentionally I guess) with heavy armchairs (a bit hard to pull up to the table in fact) and bright lighting.  The bar is outside, and had lots of happy Friday night customers.  Our waitress was friendly and helpful; sad to say we couldn't leave her a tip as their cash register system didn't allow it. 

sparkling water $8 per bottle

lemon lime and bitters $3.80

prosecco $9

We started with a drink - Prosecco for me; lemon lime and bitters for our Toowoomba friends, while Mr P. had a cranberry drink ($3.80).  Oops no photo of his glass.  

black olive crisp

barley sourdough

cultured butter

We moved on: there was a serve of barley sourdough with cultured butter ($7), and black olive crisp ($6) with smoked almond, chickpeas and pomegranate.  The bread was crusty and fresh, the butter was tangy, and there was a little bowl of Marmite gel (?) which tasted zippy on the palate.  I think I was the only one at our table to try it, and I really loved it.  (Yep, I ate it all.) 
The black olive crisp was just that - black and crispy, with a chunky chickpea dip.  Our friends shared that one, and really liked the rustic dip.  You could taste the earthy chickpeas, which lent a slightly grainy (but delicious) aspect to it.

you guessed it!  our cutlery 

I have to show you this, folks.  To be honest, Mr P. and I really didn't like the cutlery.  It was narrow and unwieldy, and just weird.  My blogger friend Sandra from Please Pass The Recipe told me that these are all over the place lately.  Eek!

yellowtail kingfish $16

I chose the kingfish for a refreshing start to the meal.  The waitress explained that it was a cold dish; I can only assume that the good countryfolk of Toowoomba had been surprised by this.  It was dressed with tomato, guanciale, mandarin and wattleseed.  This was refreshing and interesting.  The fish was dense and meaty, the accompaniments added a tangy balance, and the dressing was zesty.  The tiny jellied cubes were a fun item on the plate.  Oh, and pretty - did I say pretty with the flowers?   

buffalo labneh $17

Our friends shared the buffalo labneh - served with watermelon, pickled onion, brioche and bitter leaves.  They said the contrast of smooth labneh went well with the crisp leaves, the crunchy croutons and the pomegranate seeds.  No, hang on, I'm saying that, but that's what they meant :-) 

King salmon $38

The salmon, which came with baked celeriac, white bean, asparagus and hazelnut milk was a huge hit with our lady friend Madam S.  She said it was superb and deliciously moist, and cooked perfectly.  Not everyone gets this right, but GB did.    

wagyu rib fillet $39

Mr PE. went for the wagyu steak, which they happily cooked 'medium' without a murmur.  No throwing of plates and ordering him out of the restaurant for daring to have other than 'medium rare'.  It actually came out a bit more to the medium rare side, but he ended up loving it as it was.  Chunky chips came with it, and were readily devoured.

wagyu brisket $55

Extraordinarily, Mr P. suggested we share the brisket.  I nearly fell off my chair:-)  He usually eats vego when we are out, and is never one for huge lumps of meat.   Well, my friends, 'quelle surprise', as the French say.  It came out on a large plate, as one massive bit of cow.  And no steak knife.  Fortunately, it was tender and I could mostly pull it apart with my knife and fork, though Mr PE lent me his steak knife.  We enjoyed the flavour and the texture, though it was slightly drier than I expected.  I guess I'm just not used to big hunks of meat, but it was worth trying and I think many people would adore it.  

flatbread and yoghurt came with the brisket

Pickles were meant to come with this, but I think we may have missed out on those.  

a side of greens $10

The side of greens was garnished with salted lemon, almond tarator, buckwheat and egg yolk.  Mr P. and I shared a side of wagyu fat potatoes ($11), which came as chunky wedges.  They were delicious, and unctuous - sorry, I hate that word, but you know what I mean.  Oops again, forgot to take a photo.

We decided to head off to the nearby gelati place for dessert, as the noise and bright lights were affecting our poor old brains and ears.  We stood out in the bar area for a few minutes, to check out the scene.  It was dark; it was moody and merry and full of happy Toowoomba-ites, having a Friday night tipple.  A fun place to be.  

Picking's Verdict:  great food and friendly service; ambience with the bright light, heavy chairs and noise a tiny bit off-putting for these ancient folk.  A funny ending to our meal: an elderly couple were getting into the lift with us; as we stepped in, she turned to us and said: "I've had better!"  We chortled...

glorious chandelier

This amazing umbrella-shaped chandelier is in the bar area.  How very magical, how very Mary Poppins! 

looking up at the bar

Cnr of Ruthven & Margaret Streets,
Toowoomba 4350
Ph: 07 4580 0808

George Banks Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 


  1. Loved your review Sherry especially about the huge lump of brisket and the cutlery. Will have to visit soon, if only to see that amazing chandelier!

    1. Thanks Suze. You should try it out soon. Cheers S x

  2. I always remember your comment about chairs over lunch! And yes that cutlery looks great but isn't really practical. I remember when they used to explain that steak tartare is a raw dish ;)

    1. I once had a waiter explain to me that oysters are raw! I was most offended:)

  3. mr P here - yes GB is a good addition to the Toowoomba scene. Having grown up there, it has certainly transformed itself over the years. Mrs P has certainly covered everything about GB. I too found the cutlery, chairs and noise a bit off-putting. but the food in general was truly superb, and our waitress deserved a tip if only we could have. if ever GB contemplates revisions i would suggest a bigger dining area as it feels a bit tight. having said that though - a great place for a superb meal.

    1. Thanks so much for dropping by Mr P! Yes great meal wasn’t it?:)

  4. Well that sounds fun. For some reason, that crisp bread is so appealing. Perhaps the charcoal marks or the oil on the bread. Anyway, it looks delicious so if I'm happy with that, I imagine I'd be happy with the rest. spit spot!

  5. George Banks certainly looks to be interesting. I must say I'm with the guys, that cutlery looks like modified chopsticks. All the dished looked good to me. But, I really liked the looks of the yellowtail kingfish dish. Nice to see how you guys wine and dine down below.

  6. Hi ron
    Thanks for dropping by my blog Yes the kingfish dish was a winner. Not so sure about the chunks of meat 🍖:). Cheers sherry

  7. Great review! And yes, that cutlery looks weird to me, too. Haven't seen that style around. And hope never to! Fun read -- thanks. And Happy Holidays!

    1. thanks KR. and happy festive season to you too. cheers sherry

  8. Thank you for this review, Sherry! I've never been to Toowoomba, but If I'm there I'll definitely visit George Banks Bistro. Most of all I want to try their yellowtail kingfish.

    Happy New Year and Merry Christmas, Sherry!


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