*Brothl has closed and is no longer trading.
Meat-and-three-veg nearly choked on his coffee when I casually mentioned that I had been for lunch at Brothl with my sister. “Not a brothel, Brothl” I explained. “It’s because the cafe only serves soup, not because there are any prostitutes involved.”
It’s not just any old soup at Brothl though. The cafe is the latest opening from eco-darling Joost Bakker (replacing the under-rated Silo) and Bakker has upped the environmental credentials here as the soup is made mainly from leftovers. Don’t worry they are very high end leftovers. The broth at Brothl gets its amazing depth of flavour from the unused bones sourced from restaurants like Attica, Rockpool and The European. Each broth is stewed for up to 48 hours. The idea is to pick your broth and then customise it with poached chicken, weeds, vegies or pretty much anything else that takes your fancy. If you are feeling uninspired there are combinations recommended by Bakker.
The cafe is dominated by a long, high communal bench made from a dark, hard wood and a a veritable forest of twigs hung from the ceiling. The fit out is made entirely from recycled and recyclable materials with produce is stored in reusable crates or containers on the shelves. Food is served in white glazed plant pots and all drinks are on tap and decanted to glasses made out of old beer bottles. My chicken broth with mushrooms ($17) was light and fragrant while still very filling. It was real soup for the soul and I loved the bread which is milled and baked on site and homemade butter which accompanied the broth. Unfortunately my sister Kerry’s beef broth ($18) with day old bread was far too salty making it impossible to finish. What’s more this broth doesn’t come cheaply. You don’t get much change out of a $20 for a bowl of broth and some tap water. But you do get to leave Brothl with your belly warmed (and very full) and a clean conscience.
Details: Brothl, 123 Hardware Street, Melbourne (Ph 03 9600 0588) 10am -10pm.
Damage: Pricey for what it is. Works out to about $17 a bowl of soup including bread.
Kids: Not ideal. No room for prams and seating is all at high (and slightly unstable) stools.