Brutale

Written by on 17 September, 2013 in Bars and Restaurant News, Restaurant Reviews - No comments
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First it was Tonka, emerg­ing from the ashes of Honky Tonks. Then it was Pony, re-emerging as the new-look Boney. Now, in keep­ing with Melbourne’s cur­rent trend of the city’s (grungy, slightly dirty, incred­i­bly well-loved) party places of yore being com­pletely revamped into trendy eater­ies, the Corrs Lane space that was once Euro­trash has of late begun a new life as Croatian/Balkan restau­rant and bar Brutale.

Those of a cer­tain mid-twenties vin­tage will no doubt remem­ber the nights of debauch­ery that Euro­trash were con­ducive to, and will con­se­quently have their minds blown just a lit­tle upon walk­ing into Bru­tale. We’re going to go out on a big ol’ limb here and declare this: we def­i­nitely, con­clu­sively pre­fer Bru­tale. Is that because we’re a lit­tle older, or because the food and drink and ambi­ence at Bru­tale is just plain bet­ter? What­ever the rea­son, we’re going to stand by it.

Head chef and co-owner Daniel Dobra’s Croatian-Australian upbring­ing pro­vides the inspi­ra­tion for Bru­tale. Nigh-on all the dishes on Brutale’s menu are either inspired by the dishes of the Dobra fam­ily din­ner table, or directly use a recipe handed down from grand­par­ent to par­ent to son.

Accord­ing to the friendly and heavily-tattooed Dobra, “Father’s Chips” were a nightly fix­ture, served with every fam­ily meal. The wild boar-stuffed paprikas are inspired by dad, with grandma pro­vid­ing the recipes/inspiration for the tra­di­tional cab­bage rolls stuffed with smoked ham, beef and rice, as well as the Croa­t­ian donuts.

“Everything’s made with love.” Dobra explains. “Nothing’s on the menu for the sake of being on the menu, every­thing has its place and is there for a reason.” 

The sto­ries behind Brutale’s menu and jour­ney to being are fas­ci­nat­ing, and obvi­ously close to Dobra’s heart, but how does the hearty Balkan fare taste? We can con­firm: deli­cious. To start, try a plate of fried pick­erels or grilled cala­mari, or the roasted red paprikas along­side a ‘kaj­mak’ sauce that caused my ban­quet com­pan­ion to throw cau­tion to the wind in order to fill up on sauce soaked bread. The afore­men­tioned cab­bage rolls and stuffed paprikas were also high­lights, as were the Croa­t­ian donuts.

Even more than those high points how­ever, Brutale’s (five hour) spit roasted pork caused some rap­tur­ous mouth-full cries of delight from our table. Served with an apple sauce and crack­ling (as well as those kick-ass ‘Father’s Chips’), it’s one of the stars of the menu.

In keep­ing with the Balkan theme, Bru­tale offers a num­ber of the region’s beers, as well as a num­ber of Croa­t­ian wines. Of par­tic­u­lar inter­est how­ever, is the exten­sive col­lec­tion of Rak­ija avail­able, appar­ently the alco­holic “inspi­ra­tion for the many poets and drunk­ards that wan­der the Balkans”. Have some to get you going before din­ner, and then to keep you going halfway through.

For those feel­ing espe­cially inde­ci­sive and you’re in pos­ses­sion of a rav­en­ous appetite, try the Dobra Fam­ily Ban­quet, an epic (in the truest sense of the word) selec­tion of dishes that invites you to become a mem­ber of the Dobra clan for a night and results in a hell of a con­tented food coma (#truestory).

There’s a sense of fun about Bru­tale, a vibrant and slightly mis­chie­vous air to the goings-on. This is a good thing, one which com­ple­ments the sort of rau­cous shared din­ners that the hearty menu and end­less vari­eties of Rak­ija are con­ducive to. Dobra him­self adds to the restaurant’s friendly fam­ily din­ing room ambi­ence by greet­ing din­ers, and wel­com­ing those who par­took in the ban­quet into the fam­ily for the night. Hand-claps from the kitchen her­ald the readi­ness of a dish, a disco ball hangs from the ceil­ing, and a pig car­cass hangs in the door­way. Old-world por­traits adorned with pigs heads line the walls, and a DJ spins records all night, even on a Tues­day evening. On the week­end, a selec­tion of dishes are avail­able until midnight.

Brutale’s just as good for a late-night week­end detour for a snack and a rau­cous beer with pals as it is for an epic ban­quet of hearty Croa­t­ian fam­ily favourites taken to town and to a high qual­ity restau­rant set­ting. Come with a big appetite, a posse of friends, and the right mood for a relaxed night of good eat­ing and good drink­ing (and prob­a­bly a sub­se­quent food coma).

Bru­tale
18 Corrs Lane
Melbourne
 
On Venue­mob

Brutale on Urbanspoon

About the Author

Rebecca is a nerd from Melbourne, via Adelaide and South America. She goes by Reb, not Bec, and you can follow her on Twitter if you'd like. @RebNotBec

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