Take a trip to Brooklyn

Take a trip to Brooklyn

While travel has been off the agenda for a couple of years, The Brooklyn Wine + Tapas, with its intimate downtown bar vibes and stunning food is a venue that brings an international dining experience to us.

Husband-and-wife duo, Shaun Dunn and Leisa Provost opened The Brooklyn Wine + Tapas in January 2021, their first hospitality venue, a new endeavour that they were determined to conquer together.

With its moody bar and subdued lighting, The Brooklyn is a serious date night contender

Having run an extremely successful security business for 25 years, Covid had brought them unexpected challenges. Separated for nine months due to border closures, the couple’s business wound down within a few weeks. Not content to stand back and take the punches, Shaun and Leisa looked for new business opportunities where they could work together. As they both love food and interacting with other people, hospitality was a natural choice.

Serendipitously, a street-facing venue came up for lease in ‘Brooklyn’, the same building which houses their security business and, after successfully negotiating terms, they took on the blank space with the idea of turning it into a place they loved.

Make yourselves comfortable on the Chesterfield lounges

Designing the venue from scratch, Leisa envisaged a Brooklyn bar, much like a private club. Decked out in emerald green and gold with a collection of interesting lighting and eclectic objets d’art, The Brooklyn Wine + Tapas is classically sophisticated yet welcoming. It is a place where locals can wind down in a luxurious yet comfortable setting, with separate rooms such as the Grand Dining Room and Bar, The Parlour and The Snug brimming with coy moodiness, enabling privacy and warmth to groups of diners.

“This is my homage to that New York feel. I had a vision of what I wanted to create,” Leisa tells us, “Dark, sultry and sexy with mood lighting.”

The Library makes us feel right at home

It’s exactly that, but with a very personal touch. When a surprise return of Covid put their refurbishment plans on hold, Leisa used furniture from their recently sold Melbourne house to give the venue a sophisticated ‘European meets Australian’ classic style.  

We begin our sojourn at The Brooklyn with cocktails in The Library under the gaze of Vermeer’s ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’, a piece from Leisa’s own collection. Unlike some other artwork in the venue, it’s not the real deal, but its story is at least as fascinating as that of the original.

Leisa is full of stories as she greets, welcomes and interacts with patrons, making everyone feel at home. Shaun, an ex-English policeman, is equally at home behind the bar, bringing us sophisticated wines and cocktails with flair.

Pork belly with crackling is served with fennel and mascarpone puree, cider-poached apple and kohlrabi slaw

Taking over next door’s Oscar Italia during lockdown, Chef Raphael Chirillo is now the chef for both restaurants, given free range by the owners to produce creative and at times whimsical dishes.

Like the venue itself, The Brooklyn’s menu of plates to share brings a surprise around every corner. The stunning theatre of food that excites and delights the senses is perfect for a long lunch or intimate date night.

Native ceviche makes a dramatic entrance

Using only the freshest and best ingredients, Chef Raphael eclectically draws on world cuisine as well as native foods. Barramundi ceviche with muntrie berry, finger lime and lemon myrtle is theatrically presented in a mist of dry ice. Pepper berry crusted kangaroo is served on paperbark, its smoky aromas escaping from under a cloche as it’s served, while Pickled mango with pomelo, Asian herbs and crispy wontons arrives on a peppery heart-shaped betel leaf. Presentation, performance and perfection – they’re all there.

Pickled mango betel leaves

And so is the flavour. Wild Canadian scallops, the best in the world, Leisa tells us, are served on a roasted cauliflower purée base dusted with chorizo powder and lemon pearls, achieving a balance of creamy, rich and piquante.

Wild Canadian scallops with roasted cauli puree, chorizo powder and lemon pearls

Risotto is a garden bed scattered with wild Italian mushrooms, pieces of buffalo mozzarella and toasted hazelnuts, one of the most luxe vegetarian dishes we have tasted in some time.

Wild mushroom risotto with Italian porcini, smoked buffalo mozzarella and toasted hazelnuts

Salmon is gin cured in house, served with pickled cucumber and beetroot gel to achieve subtlety of flavour.

Plate after plate of food shows commitment to culinary techniques which yield both flavour and presentation.

Pepper-crusted kangaroo on paperbark is presented with smoke emerging in wisps from under a cloche

Yet, despite what you might expect for such high-quality food, the price tag is accessible to everyone, Leisa says. Drinks may be served in crystal glasses, but there is $9 champagne available, and bites of food also start at $9.

“We want this to be a local destination and hangout,” Leisa tells us. “As we move into warmer weather, people will also be dining alfresco, the party mood heightened by live music on Friday and Saturday evenings.”

Sticky date pudding never looked or tasted this good!

With a range of special events and dining incentives, such as Taco Tuesday, singles nights and murder mystery evenings, The Brooklyn Bar + Tapas is reaching out its invitation for locals to visit.

While its location means that The Brooklyn is ‘destination dining’, it is a place that excels at the whole package – an impressive atmospheric venue, gregarious hosts and amazing food and drinks. It’s well worth taking a trip to Brooklyn!

A luxe espresso martini

The Brooklyn Wine + Tapas, 5/190 Varsity Parade, Varsity Lakes, Ph: 0455 745 940 Open: Wed – Thurs, 4pm to 10pm, Fri – Sat, 12pm to 10pm

NOTE: Good Food Gold Coast dined as a guest of The Brooklyn Bar + Tapas.

Open: Wed – Thurs, 4pm to 10pm, Fri – Sat, 12pm to 10pm
5/190 Varsity Parade, Varsity Lakes QLD, Australia