Monday was birthday celebrations day for Stefanie and we decided to try Brooks out. Not much has changed decor wise from Kitchen Cat days. Our waiter who recognised me from his time at Movida was great. He's always so passionate about food and wine and was the one who taught me that a lady should never have an empty wine glass and gave me a secret top up! It was a pleasure to see him again - I think his name is Alan but there are probably a dozen Chinese waiters called Alan around but this one is special!
We ummed and aahed over the menu and ended up deciding to go with the chef's 5 course "degustation" style but ordered some oysters and the signature chicken liver parfait pillows.
The oysters were fresh and briny and the pillows were rich with a silky filling, crisp pastry and a tart I think it was rhubarb blob to cut through the richness. Quite clever and a delicious mouthful.
Our first course was a plateful of vegetables. Incredibly pretty to look at with flowers and leaves and dollops of different emulsions, gels and a sprinkling of black olive dust. The amount of concentrated flavour in every aspect of this dish was amazing and those flavours were intense. Really clever and interesting work. Now I have to confess, veggies aren't usually my thing or flowers and herbs and I did find some of these flavours quite overpowering for my palette.
The next dish was a Moreton Bay bug under a pile of seaweed infused tapioca flour, red caviar beads, some purees and the whole thing was very reminiscent of the sea. The seaweed flour was a touch too fishy for me but the bug was sweet and plump and I enjoyed the different purees it was on.
Course three was a piece of steamed rockling with some turnip puree topped with fresh coconut and then there were two tiny pieces of pickled cucmber, olive droplets and a black yuzu gel. The citrussy tang of the yuzu gel enhanced the gently steamed fish which would have been bland without it. I enjoyed the turnip and the slight sweetness of the coconut. A very clean dish with pure flavours that looked simple ( I doubt it was).
Our final savoury course was pigeon. Two tiny tasty pieces of pigeon with some sweet onion and leaves on salty savoury Vegemite puree. I had been waiting for something that was tasty and delicious and homely like Sunday lunch at Embrasse where I first encountered Chef Nicolas Poelaert and it came with this course.
Dessert was a mushroom on a forest floor, Chocolate soil and some herbaceous granita, a meringue mushroom stalk and a cap of hazelnut mousse. Not overly chocolatey and not overly sugary; this was light, fluffy and a pleasant way to end the meal.
It wasn't the end of the meal though as Alan brought round some petit fours and we chose a couple of passionfruit donuts and a square of salted caramel. It wasn't completely clear whether these were part of our tea order, complimentary or extras and we found out afterwards they were extra. The donuts were delicious and I loved the tart passionfruit instead of a sugary sweet jam or custard. The salted caramel was very rich and fudgey and even between the two of us, we couldn't finish it.
Our meal at Brooks was interesting and enjoyable. I liked the attentive service and the romantic candle lit ambience.However I'm not rushing back and if I did go back I don't think I'd do do the degustation. I'd probably opt for the more homely sounding roasts for two. I remember really enjoying the more rustic, country cooking of Sunday lunch at Embrasse and I think the roasts for two would be more along those lines. The fancier stuff didn't really do it for me here and whilst they were interesting, they weren't tastier than Attica or Vue de Monde. And it's pretty pricey too and whilst I don't doubt the work that goes into the each dish as they are intricate it just didn't hit the mark for me.