Brooks

A guest review by Frank Wong.

On a chilly winter evening, a dim Thursday night after a (fantastic) screening at the film festival, we ambled down slumbering Collins Street. One turn into a Melburnian alley later, followed by a greeting from the jovial one-armed doorman and descent down historic steps, we entered the warmly lit subterranean space that is Brooks.

The latest resident at heritage-listed Austral House is acclaimed French chef Nic Poelaert, who closed his multi-award winning Embrasse last year to the woe of the local dining community. Famed for his playful culinary style, which emphasises texture and appearance without forsaking flavour or simplicity, his art on this wintry visitation did not disappoint.

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The space remains structurally consistent with its past incarnations as Fifteen and Kitchen Cat, but has been given a new identity by contemporary light fittings and unconventionally presented art pieces. If there is any critique of the establishment, it would be that the hard, cellar-like room inhibits conversation by amplifying noise levels.

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The first, and most renowned, of Nic’s signature dishes is the (deceptively) humble Meli of Vegetables. Fresh, minimally prepared garden greens are arrayed in a gorgeous arrangement, orbited by a constellation of equally vibrant sauces. The intense (and natural) flavour of the leaves, the crunch of every stem, together composes a perfect playground for the fun of experimenting and finding your own personal favourite pairing of veggie and seasoning. This is the dish that could turn a red-blooded man to vegetarianism.

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The following Squid, shallot, kaffir, ink, kale was more visually understated, but no less delicious. The eponymous rings of squid are perfectly seasoned and soft. The ink sauce lends a sharp aquatic edge to the flavour, while the dried kale leaves add a textural crunch to offset the tender morsels.

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We finished with the second of Nic’s signatures, the Forest Floor. The whimsical arrangement gives way to a kaleidoscope of flavour and texture, encapsulating Nic’s culinary philosophy on a single plate. Each element of the dish, from the moist cake ‘soil’ to the mushroom’s meringue stem and ice-cream cup, lends a different (and yet complementary) experience to the overarching latticework of sweetness. Of particular note is the ingenuous (and utterly creative) inclusion of pork crackling offering an unexpected spark and flavour note.

As the Melbourne dining scene joins the global segue into casual fare, Brooks sets itself apart by keeping the linen on the table and maintaining an exemplary service staff. A particular anecdote: When making the reservation, the attendant was informed of my guest’s crustacean allergy. On the night, as we made our order, I repeated this notice. For the first time in any dining establishment, I was informed that this was unnecessary, as all waitstaff have already been notified and prepared beforehand.

By combining informal ambience with winning service, and simple ingredients with an unique execution that would not be found elsewhere, Brooks has made its mark as the newest addition to Melbourne’s stable of local culinary treasures.

Ambience 7/10
Service 9/10
Food 9/10
Total 8.3/10

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Brooks on Urbanspoon

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Chez Drez

This cafe/restaurant is probably well-known to all as I always seen pictures of scrumptious cakes and patisseries floating on people’s Facebook wall every now and then. They are correct, this is a popular place with pleasing coffee and brunch food.

I particularly applaud their ideas and details of their interior, with curved wall designed, open kitchen and funky lights.

Facilities – 3/5 (only one bathroom for the ladies)
Parking – 4/5 (plenty of street parking, market parking, and supermarket parking nearby)
Food 4/5
Coffee 4/5

Macaron vision

Macaron vision

Cake vision

Cake vision

Squary shelves

Squary shelves

Moroccan Baked Eggs

Moroccan Baked Eggs

Squarey shelve lights

Squarey shelve lights

Open Kitchen with Curvey Walls

Open Kitchen with Curvey Walls

Menu

Menu

Chez Dré on Urbanspoon

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The Stables of Como

Just opened 3 days ago, I was determined to search for the lemonade scones.

Situated in a historical house of Como, its now finally re-opened for visitors.

Unfortunately when I got there the scones were already sold out >_< , how dare they. Nevertheless I got to taste their Pistachio tea cake and it was exquisite. :-D

The downside was parking and the toilet area is quite hidden in the Como garden areas.

Nevertheless I was recommend this place for warmer weathers where you could also enjoy a walk around the historical site. They also provide a picnic option too.

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Pistachio tea cake

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Afternoon tea menu

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Inside – looks like David Jones Food Hall

Stables of Como on Urbanspoon

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Coffee Addicts

If you are a coffee lover with an emotional attachment with a caffeine hit, then please come to the prospect espresso. Its a neat little place in  central Camberwell.

Great price, great food.

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Prospect Espresso on Urbanspoon

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King Kong

King Kong , he is 40 feet tall and is the so-called the “eighth wonder of the world”. Don’t expect a huge story line and come on , its King Kong.

That amazing puppet is  just something beyond I could I describe here. Its just an amazing piece of gadget that brings the live beast on stage.

Just go and see it…

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Inside

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Inside Regent Theatre

 

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Yak Italian Kitchen Bar

A light casual Italian restaurant just tucked in Flinders Lane where I just happen walked into without a booking on a Saturday night. Waiting time was around 20 minutes and got a table for 2. The pasta menu was short but interesting with flavoured oil pasta with a range of slow cook yummmies.

A vey busy restaurant and the noise level made chit chat a little hard.

Inside Yak

Inside Yak

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Bread to start

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Rabbit Tagliolini

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Rabbit Tagliolini

Yak Italian Kitchen and Bar on Urbanspoon

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Pre-theatre show dinner @ Trocadero Hamer Hall.

For those who have a love of art, may I introduce you a neat modern european restaurant located at the Arts Centre Hamer Hall. With a contemporary fittings, the walls are decorated by a  Japanese graffiti artist Jun Inoue. I advise you all to pay a little more attention to his mix of Japanese calligraphy cross over graffiti.

The restaurant

The restaurant

Bread to start...

Bread to start…

Soup of the Day - Mushroom soup with slow cooked egg

Soup of the Day – Mushroom soup with slow cooked egg

Duck Breast with Pastry
Duck Breast with Pastry

Apple Tarte Tatin

Apple Tarte Tatin

Caramel Cream

Caramel Cream

Trocadero on Urbanspoon

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