Saturday, April 13, 2013

Brooks of Melbourne, wine and dine.

I have a confession to make: I like to "lunch". A lot. So much so that if you proposed a cushy nine to five job to me, you'd promptly the receive the 'don't be a fool' look. I like to lunch with gal pals, lovers, bosses and alone. Ideally, I'd allocate three hours, hence the no nine to five rule. These days, three hours for lunch is rarely realistic so I do mini-lunch or quickie-lunch.
stunning bar image courtesy of Brooks
I have been able to dine at Brooks of Melbourne a few times. Mostly at lunch. Please do not tell chef Nic Poelaert, but I was originally attracted to see what sommelier Matthew Brooke was doing. Always the wine with me. I really do enjoy a wide variety of wine and love having access to interesting wine lists at Melbourne restaurants. To enjoy wine at its best, however, great food is ideal and when I eat out, I like to order dishes I'd never make at home.

EVERYTHING on the menu at Brooks Melbourne is something I'd never make at home. For one, I don't think I have the right kitchen gadget to turn the humble garden pea into something resembling the foam on an early morning cappuccino. For another, Nic Poelaert and I seem to have taste buds that work in completely different ways. I will taste something (usually wine) and then try and determine each individual flavour that I can, across many layers. Brooks of Melbourne's head chef presents flavours, colours and textures under the guise of food.
assorted oysters, heirloom tomato consommé, meli of vegetables
I can't be certain, but I imagine that Mr Poelaert tastes something (like peas) and then tries to determine how he can bring out all the best nuances of the (pea) flavour. Being a regular diner, there are very few occasions when an entire menu will delight me. The menu at Brooks is such a pleasant surprise. Try these menu descriptions on for size:
  • "squid, lime leaf, black sausage, brussel sprout, leek, ash"
  • "Moreton Bay bug, seaweed, Yarra Valley roe"
  • "pumpkin nougatine, popcorn cream, frangipane, coconut"
  • "white chocolate ice cream, fig, olive meringue'
Are you swooning or totally curious? Find yourself a special occasion and get yourself to Brooks. The stark white walls are a fantastic juxtaposition to the dark-wood bar and its jaw-dropping bottled wine display. The pillar-box red sprinkler system and pipes remind me of wine drinking in older establishments along Lygon Street. The super-modern, industrial inspired lighting as well as the backlit transparency artwork, yolk-yellow napkins and smoky water glasses brings Brooks' décor into the now.

There is a bird's eye view of the kitchen from almost every seat in the house, showcasing the genius that is Nic Poelaert at work. The wait staff are fun, friendly and never intrusive. They know both menu and wine list inside out. If head sommelier Matthew Brooke is on duty.. please do yourself a favour and allow him to select all of your wines. He is a cut above.
dining room at Brooks of Melbourne (image from Brooks)
P.S. Did I mention that there is a Cheese Chariot??
make sure you leave room!
Have you dined at Brooks? What did you think?
Where else do you like to 'do lunch'?
I look forward to your tips.
tweet me @LadyOenotria

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