Having loved our encounters with Embrasse, I was sad to hear they were closing, but with Chef Nic Poelaert setting up in Brooks, all the better, being in the heart of the city. They do a five course tasting for $85, though you may tack on additional courses like the foie or the marron.
His signature dish - what a glorious way to experience plants, herbs & blossoms. The bee pollen, fragrant of honey. Your radish, nudges against the beetroot puree, or the humble cauliflower, brightened by the kumquat gelee. A course that highlights the subtle sweetness of each stem, each leaf and the intensity in the pools of purees.
moreton bay bug, shiso oil, mussel custard & pickled oysters
Perfectly cooked & beautifully supple, the shiso oil with tapioca powder melted away easily, a plate made rich with bold flavours like the creamy mussel custard and Yarra Valley caviar, yet not overpowering the moreton bay bug. Easily my favourite.
bisque, candied head, tumeric
The marron spans two courses. The first is the rich bisque.
tail, pumpkin custard, verjus, bay leaf oil
The marron tail, mirroring the moreton bay bug, once more with pockets of Yarra Valley caviar, and sweet pumpkin. Beautifully cooked and slightly under in contrast with the bay bug. It’s almost like a dream come true. Some days, I come across a course I love and it finishes all too soon, I think to myself - the night would be perfect, if I could just have it again, more of it this time. This was a first.
foie gras, parsnip, white chocolate, quince // duck, orange, carrot, caramelised milk skin, blueberries
A generous slab of foie but if you love your foie, this is the dish for you. The bit that was caramelised and seared was divine. With pools of creamy white chocolate & the clear quince for a salty sweet bite with the foie.
The duck, with crisp skin and a thin layer of fat, was beautifully pink within, which I preferred as it made for a juicier bite.
Having encountered the forest floor before, I was looking forward to the addition of the candied pork crackling. Chocolate & pork, a pairing I’ve encountered at the end of our lunch tasting menu at Momofuku Seiobo - that pork fat caramel donut.
The hazelnut parfait, cool & light, with a quenelle of rich chocolate ganache, added creaminess to the chocolate cake crumb soil, and the salty candied pork crackling.
rose, cheesecake, preserved boysenberries, liquorice
Cheesecakes have never seen such elegance or grace. Delicately unfurling the edible rose petals reveals a subtle liquorice ice cream with the cheesecake & tangy boysenberries. Though I did find myself craving a little crumble, some texture.
Brooks’ menu is wonderfully concise, yet has all my favourite plates - bay bugs, foie, duck, marron. I was spoilt for choice. The desserts told a story of their own, and closed out our evening beautifully.