Brooks of Melbourne

Ignoring the increasingly casual dining scene in Melbourne and the city’s penchant for no bookings Nicholas Poelaert has opened a proper, old school restaurant complete with white linen tablecloths.  Brooks is located in the heart of the city in the glamorous basement restaurant which once housed Greg Malouf’s MoMo and Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen.  

Chicken parfait at Brooks

The place looks great with vaulted ceilings, a glittering bar along one wall, an open kitchen adding theatre and whitewashed walls hung with contemporary art  bringing some energy to the room.  It has  the feel of a special occasion place whether you sit at the bar for a cocktail or settle in for some serious eating.  Given the team behind Gerald’s Bar is also involved in Brooks sitting at the bar is actually a pretty good option.

Charcuterie at Brooks

The food isn’t trend driven either -it’s a modern take on French cuisine but what Poelaert is doing at Brooks is serious stuff.  The way the menu is structured is confusing and our waiter’s advice that the food was not designed to be shared was completely wrong for some dishes.  But despite this, the food is almost entirely terrific.  To start, tiny pillows of silky rich chicken parfait ($12) whimsically arranged on a plate of moss.   It’s the sort of dish that sets you up with high expectations of the meal ahead.

The open kitchen at Brooks

The charcuterie board is generous featuring saucisson, chorizo and some excellent bresaola ($28).  The “cheeky bun” ($18) which turns out to be a full size burger, is similarly good.  Although I can’t help but think while it’s excellent bar food it is perhaps a little strange to have as a starter which our waiter could have pointed out to us.

This is what you call a seriously posh burger at Brooks

Poelaert has an instinct for things that wind up being more than a sum of their parts like the tender lamb fillets ($21) which are teamed with asparagus and laced with miso and pollen.  However the killer dish is one that Poelaert has brought with him from Embrasse the roast chicken for two ($62).  The chicken is cooked in hay and the bird is crispy skinned with juicy, moist meat.  It’s served with cheesy mash which bears more of a resemblance to a liquid form of cheese than it does any form of mashed potato I’ve ever eaten.  It’s good old fashioned eating in this oh so modern restaurant and it’s a winner.

Lamb fillet with asparagus at Brooks

The wine list is eclectic and jumps around the world although it has a penchant for boutique Australian wines.  Of the wines we tried the best is the 2010 Mac Forbes pinot noir  ($110) which is sensationally smooth and subtle but also very steeply priced.

The famous roast chicken at Brooks

Brooks has only just opened in the past week and the menu can do with some tweaks but I’m already a fan of the place.   It’s brave and adventurous without crossing the line to pointless and Poelaert really can cook.

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Details: Brooks of Melbourne, 115-117 Collins Street, Melbourne 3000 (Ph 03 9001 8755)
Damage: Budget breaking.  Our meal for four came to $393.

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  1. A little bit different to what he was doing before! Looks all amazing though, the chicken parfait looks adorable!

  2. We heard from a friend good things about this place. The parfait is very cute, highly recommend Trocadero’s version too. By the way, no desserts for you? We heard from the same friend that only two desserts are available here, is that true?

  3. Love saucisson, miss it terribly from my days living in Paris. And that chicken, it looks so invitingly crispy. Another place to add to the list!

  4. so the no bookings and casual dining has now reached the other side of the pond? 🙂

  5. That burger looks huge for an entree! Although it does look damn fine!

  6. Oh it looks delicious, I live being able to see the chefs in the kitchen too! Burger please!!

  7. Ashley – Yes I never made it to Embrasse but the parfait was amazing

    Momo – I knew I would get in trouble from you for not having dessert! Yes there were only two desserts on offer and as I think you can probably tell from the pictures we had too much food as an entree (the entrees should have been shared rather than separate) so no room for dessert sadly.

    Jules – I am a big saucisson fan as well – on a road trip in France last year it was the main thing I ate for lunch every day – delicious. As you say crispy skin is key on chicken.

    Caviar girl – Yes sadly. Actually I don’t mind no bookings but not at every restaurant.

    Shellie – I don’t think it should really have been listed and suggested as an entree to be honest, it was a meal in itself

    Gourmet Getaway – Yes I like seeing the kitchens as well – it’s always interesting

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