Freelance writer. Melbourne based cinephile. Fond of food.
Published May 5th 2013
Heaven in a basement
The many charms of Brooks begin as you approach the entrance on George Parade. A rather dapper gentleman engages you in conversation and takes you downstairs where you are immediately comforted by the atmospheric lighting and the warmth of the decor. Moving past the busy bar and the open kitchen, there's a pleasing amount of space between tables in this rather swanky cellar restaurant.
Not your average plate of vegetables
The impeccably dressed staff cheerily explain the set up: Entrees are designed to share, the next course consists of plates that are larger than appetisers but not quite mains. They are designed for one. Then there are the larger dishes built for two, like a complete roast chicken with veggies.
Among the entrees, the vegetarian croquettes - half were beetroot, the other pumpkin, both adorned with a jam-like red wine button - were delicious. A range of oysters were also on offer. We tried the Coffin Bay variety and they were lip-smackingly good.
Beef with burnt vegetables - not a scrunched up black serviette
Of the in-between dishes, I chose two which were both heavenly. The signature vegetable ensemble, I've read 25 different vegetables contribute to its making, is a cornucopia of colours and flavours. It includes little pools of stunning sauces, edible flowers and all sorts of surprises which you can mix and match to your heart's delight.
When I first saw the Beef with Burnt Vegetables sail past me, I thought the waiter was carrying a plate with a screwed up black serviette on it, but never did something that looked so little like food taste so good. Wafer thin sheets of charred crispy potato and bamboo rest on a chunk of hay roasted wagyu in a rich red/black reduction. It is sublime.
Of the larger dishes to share, the farm-style roast chicken for 2 with loads of veggies is cooked to perfection, and comes with a big dollop of aligot, a mozzarella laden potato mash, which is lovingly rolled onto your plate by one of the smart looking waiters who seem to always be flitting around making your experience exceptional without ever getting in the way.
Having already lapped up so much gastronomic pleasure, I had no idea there was still a big exclamation mark to come. The Forrest Floor is a mushroom shaped dessert featuring a meringue stalk and a hazelnut flavoured parfait head lying on a bed of candied pork crackling and an assortment of other crumbled confections with such diverse flavours as ginger and morel mushroom. It is a never-ending source of delight.