The old Brooklyn Hotel is now a classically styled oyster and ale house where time, on a Friday, stands still. Bare brick walls and nude light bulbs meet glossy white tiles and a big circular bar, where bartenders shake dirty Martinis in the round and suited businessmen in various states of undress cluster around smashing beers and Sydney rock oysters. It’s the ’80s again, only this time it’s a lot more stylish and lunch is most definitely not for wimps.
Chef Sean Connolly (formerly of Astral) is behind the menu here, where sirloin steaks are served on the bone while a pat of Café de Paris butter melts all over it. Grab a handful of duck-fat chips (they’re really good – creamy and light on the inside, fried deep golden on the outside) to soak up the melted butter and beef juices while you’re at it. If you’re avoiding the evil carbs, there are crab ‘tacos’ – crisp little baby cos leaves filled with shreds of crabmeat bejewelled with salmon roe. They’re nothing like chips, even less like tacos, but pretty damn tasty nonetheless.
Craft beers and cocktails are the name of the game here, where the classics (Brooklyns, Manhattans, Spritz and Bloody Marys) are met with a menu of newbies (the Castro, say, is a tropical smash-up of smoked pineapple and spiced rum). Or you could just as easily go a glass of White Rabbit dark ale or even a glass of Champagne (it's a small, but thoughtful by-the-glass list) with a mixed dozen oysters. Personally, we’re about sweet, briny Sydney rocks over the creamier, larger Pacifics, but hey – whatever floats your boat.
The Morrison is definitely a cut above. A soft, brioche bun sandwiches a dry-aged beef patty with lettuce, tomato and chipotle mayo, with a side of those duck fat chips. Excellent stuff, but if it says medium rare on the menu and they labour the point when you order, it really should be served that way, not medium like ours.
My Diane is surprisingly sweet, which is a shame. There’s nothing like a minute steak and Diane sauce and a cold beer. Of course, if you were keen for a dessert steak (don’t rule it out, folks) this would be the one to bet on. Not that you need to order a massive meal at the Morrison, either. You might just go for a flight of hams (serrano, prosciutto and iberico) and a glass of rose.
However you choose to make your way here, we’re confident you’ll be in good spirits, granted you can deal with big crowds and the sort of frenetic-but-friendly service a busy restaurant like this encourages. All hail long lunches, cold Martinis, plates of oysters, big steaks and not going back to work. All hail the Morrison.