This restaurant is now closed.
Down a quiet city laneway at the posh end of town, Brooks of Melbourne occupies a spot that has been home to a number of famous chefs over the years – Jamie Oliver and home grown middle-eastern whiz Greg Malouf among them. French chef Nicolas Poelaert held sway at this basement eatery but left earlier this year apparently not sharing the vision of a new manager to move the restaurant towards more classic cuisine.

On a very quiet Monday lunch, Greedy Girl and dear friend Bev the Cook descended the steep-ish stairs to see what was on offer. With main courses on the a la carte menu around the A$45 mark, a two course lunch special (with a glass of wine) for $39 (or three courses for $50) seemed to be a very good deal.

Sadly, it was a very quiet lunch. We were, in fact, the only guests and given the quality of the food on offer for this deal, Greedy Girl was extremely surprised. Brooks has three dining areas; a separate private room on the other side of the entry and the main floor divided into two – one abutting a long bar, and the other accessed by walking past the central open kitchen and trundling up a few steps into a long narrow room with skylights at one end.  That’s where Greedy Girl and Bev the Cook parked themselves, to enjoy the comfy banquette seating and a little natural light overhead.

For such a well-priced deal, we didn’t expect an enormous amount of choice but happily looked over three options for starters and main courses and two for dessert, although you can also choose cheese to finish. Managing to try four dishes between us, we turned to wine. Bev the Cook took the blend, a 2013 Moondarra ‘Old School Red’ while Greedy Girl enjoyed a 2014 Holly’s Garden ‘Romato’ pinot gris – while different labels, they’re both from the same winery in Gippsland, Victoria which also doubles as a Tajima beef producer. Hmmm. Maybe it’s time for a road trip …

First up for Bev the Cook was cured ocean trout with beetroot and fennel. The fish was stunning – soft, flavourful, perfect. Greedy Girl (not a fan of beetroot) sampled it with a little of the shaved fennel which was a tad salty for her liking but still, it was a winning combination. Bev the Cook was well pleased with the addition of the beetroot. A very good start.

Restaurant reviews: Brooks of Melbourne

Cured ocean trout with beetroot and fennel

Greedy Girl’s starter was a chicken liver parfait with pickled onions and brioche. This was an exceptionally pretty plate (two slices of buttery brioche were served on the side) and Greedy Girl felt slightly bad at immediately dismantling it – for about 30 seconds. While the parfait wasn’t as soft as she would have liked it, it was very tasty. The pickled onions were presented in two ways – as leaves of onion and the flavour distilled into a gel. Excellent. The sweetness of the onion was a very good foil for the dish.

Restaurant reviews: Brooks of Melbourne

Chicken liver parfait with pickled onions

And so to main courses. Bev the Cook took the lamb. Economically described as lamb, pumpkin, pear and walnut, the menu failed to mention a profusion of kale on the plate. Bev the Cook was far from deterred and proceeded to give Greedy Girl a sample of the soft and pink meat. Again, the flavour was just about perfect. A downside was that neither of us could discern any of the advertised walnuts.

Restaurant reviews: Brooks of Melbourne

The lamb tested positive to kale

Greedy Girl went for the blue eye. It was a risky dish for her, not generally being fond of the main accompaniment listed on the menu, couscous. Still, it’s said you eat with your eyes and when this dish (pictured at the top of this post) landed in front of her, Greedy Girl was a happy camper. The pearl couscous had lovely texture and the other elements – a sweetcorn puree and roasted baby leek – were utterly delicious. The fish was also cooked perfectly with a lovely caramelisation, while still remaining moist. Greedy Girl was very happy to use a piece of bread to mop up every skerrick on this plate.

Being a workday lunch, we declined the offer of dessert, although Bev the Cook ordered an espresso. Out it came with some petits fours – a decadent dark chocolate brownie and a blood peach pate de fruits. The latter was very, very sweet and Greedy Girl didn’t indulge, although she would have liked a tray of the brownies to go. Sigh. Maybe next time.

Restaurant reviews: Brooks of Melbourne

Coffee and petits fours

This is excellent food. Greedy Girl hopes the restaurant thrives although the price point in the evenings for the a la carte and the tasting menus may be a little off putting. It’s certainly very accomplished cooking featuring some fine ingredients.

 Brooks of Melbourne

The Foodie World restaurant reviews star rating
115/117 Collins Street, Melbourne

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