It seems a good rule of thumb that some of the best things in life take a little finding. After an all too brief visit to Vernon Chalker’s infamous den of iniquity, a lovely young lady in perhaps the furriest coat I’ve ever seen gave me a cryptic set of instructions describing how to find a certain lady’s parlour up a distinctly 1980’s back passage. Twists, turns and talk of trees that grew Spaghetti bought to my mind a persistent memory of Cadaqués and its confusing laneways.
Entry to this Rather Fancy Terrace and Public House requires ascent, in particular as the lift is resisting any movement as it revels in its own shoddy decrepitude. The three flights of stairs are worth the effort however, as you arrive in the softly Astroturfed Parlour.
Ignore the queue of younger pups that line the bricked approach to the small bar and head out on to the Terrace and find a table. Wintry Melbourne is held at bay by gas lamp heating and cuddly blankets, I’m told Sunny Melbourne (if there is such a thing) can be equally assuaged with a silken parasol between your fingers.
There is a slight tennis theme running through the venue, and very soon after taking your seat you will be joined by a pretty young thing decked out in Fred Perry. The drinks list leans heavily on English summers, and by the number of Pimm’s jugs, I’d say the venue is leading the charge in repopularising that most Wimbledon of beverages. Measures come in Singles (for two) or Doubles (for four) and the generous servings means you’ll get round the table a couple of times before you need a re-order.
We started with the Finsbury, a delightful concoction featuring the much misunderstood Stone Green Ginger wine, and followed up with a Pimm’s No. 3 Cup, the lesser known hot brandied cousin of the traditional summer cooler. Served under a cosy it banished Jack Frosts fingers perfectly.
Once you’ve arrived, you’re unlikely to be in a hurry to leave, as staff, service and stunning tipples arrive effortlessly. A mercifully short food menu should stave of any lingering need to alight the terrace, and I thoroughly recommend the chicken sandwich and the liver parfait.
Any mention of Mde. Brussels would be incomplete without attempting an answer to the question of who she was; a brothel keeper, sweetheart of Royalty, aristocratic wife,w ho by all accounts knew every facet of how to have a good time in life. I do love a good story, and the venue website shows the homework has been done.
All and all, Madame Brussels delivers a great experience, fit for a Lord. I’ll be back again, and hopefully this time the Madame herself will be on hand to complete the experience.
Level 3, 59-63 Bourke St, Melbourne, Victoria | (03) 9662 2775
On Google Maps, here.