Monday, September 08, 2014

Brooks (Melbourne CBD) 09/2014

We used to come to this subterranean venue when it was the home of Mo Mo's. It is physically little changed but it seems to be lighter and brighter. There is a large shield near the entrance which looks like a tribute to produce and industry, but apparently is the symbol of Melbourne. 

Next to that is a glass fronted cabinet displaying drying Waghu

hanging above pots of edible greens. 

Beyond that there is an open kitchen 

opposite a large and very well stocked bar. 

The drinks menu takes about 30 pages and is distinguished by a wide variety of very reasonably priced Australian and International wines. Decor is generally attractive and low key. 

Tables are set simply with white cloths and linen napkins.

Service was efficient and unobtrusive and information about wines was accurate. 
Weekdays there is an a la carte menu and a degustation menu but on Saturday's only a seven course degustation menu is available ($140 with wines $60, but there are plenty by the glass around $12 to $16)
It was Saturday so we happily had the seasonal tasting menu starting with several little appetizers - Smoked quail eggs had a nice smoky aroma, the whites were firm and the yolks soft and runny.

Next came a crispy rice biscuit with a dob of quite mild Vegemite 

and then one of Chef Nicholas Poelart's specials, nettle and goat curd pillows with a rhubarb jam. Served on a square of turf it was a striking presentation and achieved a appealing combination, of course the turf is just for appearances.

The first course was hand caught squid, finger lime, verbena and ink, roe, leeks. As with virtually every dish this was an artistic presentation, this time in black and white. The outstanding feature was it's delicacy and the textural variations with little pops taste when the roe fractured in the mouth. A great start.

Meli Melo of vegetables, herbs and flowers was classical Poelart. Pretty as a picture, 

full of varied tastes and textures, the plate still looked like abstract art after the food was gone. 

Just gorgeous.
Cured trumpeter, a New Zealand fish, yoghurt, foie gras, oysters, dill came next, I found this a little bland.

Braised Waghu beef, spring honey cabbage,fermented garlic, green salt. was another  tender and tasty dish. The Waghu was intercostal muscle (from between the ribs) which, we were told, had been cooked sous vide at 70 degrees for about 60 hours. I can not imagine that 30 hours would have done just as well. Regardless it was superb although it did not have the amount of fat one gets in a Waghu porterhouse, which we both find exceptionally appealing.

The last main course was Flinders Island milk fed lamb, peas and mint had only been cooked, our waiter told us, sous vide over night at 60 degrees. Another very pleasing dish, despite looking similar to the Waghu the taste and texture were totally different.

Fromage frais, parsley, sorrel was a total surprise that worked really well.

The final dessert course was brown rice, miso ice cream, macadamia rice pudding, milk skin. These are very unusual desserts. Some might like their desserts sweeter than these but I found them a welcome change.

Two wines stood out a1999 Jim Barry Riesling which has just been released. This had a complex flavour that was extremely well matched with the the Meli Melo. The other wine that we both particularly liked came with the lamb. This was Telmo Rodriguez 'M2 de Matallana' Tempranillo, 2008- Ribera del Duera, Spain. It did disappoint me that this wine costs about $62 a bottle retail but is sold here for $26/ glass. This amounts to a 150% mark up!
We found this to be an adventurous meal, full of surprises. Beautifully and artistically  presented it was exciting to the senses, you could say a sensational meal. The menu changes gradually with new dishes every few weeks so, in a few months we'll try and get back for something which we anticipate will be new and exciting.
Score 16/20

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