Like a glamorous exchange student in a rough neck school, the Brix is bringing a bit of sophistication to Brunswick Street
Well this is awkward. We seem to have developed a bit of a crush on the Brix.
French, sophisticated and uncompromising in its traditional menu ethos, this small bistrot at the end of Brunswick Street is making all the new boisterous-dining-hall-share-plate contenders we’ve seen open this year seem like loudmouthed yobs.
The one year young Fitzroy restaurant lost half its kitchen crew in March, but Brisbane chef Ashley Hicks has saved the day. Just make sure you go the full degustation, where Hick’s really hits his stride.
Stepping in off the street, the white room with soft lighting, polished concrete flooring and intricate weaved rope sculptures makes Keir Vaughan and Emma O’Mara’s space one of the most elegant and tranquil we’ve seen for some time. Thankfully, as they both come from design backgrounds, elegant doesn’t mean boring. A mascot hog guards the door and a deeply saturated and downright sexy still life of produce and animals galore dominates the entrance. It looks like the fevered hallucination of a food lover - or a duck lover - we’re not sure, but we like it.
Waitstaff with black pants up to their navels and dorky/adorable braces (depending on your hipster tendencies) ably guide the growing throngs through the exceptional and accessible wine list, and a menu that is notable for its brevity (five entrees, four mains, scant description). If in doubt, don’t be afraid to ask questions, but don’t fear chancing it either as there isn’t a single dish you’ll regret ordering. In a bold move, weekend evenings and Sunday lunch see a la carte replaced by a mandatory five-course set menu, although you can still get charcuterie and cheese at the bar. We like not having to make any decisions, and you won’t resent what you get for your $80, but still, it’s brave stuff in a neighbourhood whose claim to dining fame is souvlakis and $5 pizza.
If given the choice, start with some charcuterie ($22), showcasing duck liver parfait with a satisfying to crack toffee crust, slivers of saucisson (dried sausage) and rich, salty rillettes, and then get involved in a flaky, butter-rich, and sweet shallot tart tatin that exemplifies the kitchens winning execution of simple, French classics. If numbers allow, try to get all of the main dishes to at least marvel at the artistry in their assembly, but if that’s ridiculous, get the fillet of beef ($32) which after being cooked for, oh, years, at a mere 120 degrees has transitioned without a fight from raw to cooked, maintaining rich colour and complete tenderness. Served with smoked baby leek, the dish is well rounded, but it’s the sticky and richly flavoured length of tendon that’s the sensory surprise. Lamb, equally willed into submission over aeons comes in three parts: breast with crisp skin, deep fried sweetbreads, and fillet. Jerusalem artichokes, acidic salsa verde and edible flowers form the rest of the pretty as a picture plate ($30). For dessert, the menu again says mysterious things like: chestnut, apple, date, honey. It sounds like recess, but the slate plate arrives bearing so many components it looks like a (stylised) army assault course. Shards of dried chestnut and a scattering of candied dates perch atop soft meringue beehives on a stroke of chestnut puree ($14). Carefully arranging textures and flavors, Aderton is a landscape architect of food.
A place for fans of old-school fine dining, the Brix is dignified, refined, classic and lovely, and we’re crushing on it big time.