This week Katie tried the early-bird menu at Browns Brasserie with mixed results.
Where? Browns Brasserie, 38 Queens Road
When? Thursday October 25th 5.30pm (Early Bird Menu)
Ordered: Chicken Pate, 21 Day Aged Steak (rare)
Bill: £26 (including a glass of Pinot Noir)
Good For: Beautiful atmosphere, friendly staff
Bad For: Menu choices not as tempting or tasty as they once were
When I think of Browns Brassiere, it always strikes me as a sort of ‘wannabe up market posh chain’.
If I am honest, I think it fulfils this function well.
I like the smartness of the servers in their long white aprons; I like the early 1900s style deco; and I especially like how many of the buildings where this chain, established in 1978, have chosen to reside are old and architecturally enchanting.
But the good times stop there. When I went on Thursday late afternoon for an early dinner (as it is an all-day brasserie) I was left fairly wanting.
Since I last went to Browns just under two years ago, I feel that ‘style over substance’ has sadly taken over.
Service was polite, friendly and efficient, but scanning the menu, I felt as though I was sat in a pub which could have been anywhere, rather than a brasserie in a beautiful building with waiters in waistcoats and ties.
Pies, fish and chips, and burgers are more what I would expect to see at my local than in a striking establishment for the suited and booted.
Already feeling as though Browns has fallen short, I reluctantly ordered pate followed by rare steak. I say reluctantly because steak is available at most eateries, and is always a last resort choice for me when nothing else on a menu proves tempting.
The pate arrives and at £3 is extremely reasonable. Without sounding too ‘nit-picky’ my starter in fact arrived almost too quickly after I ordered, which didn’t give me a chance to sit back and relax and left me feeling as though my supper was a some-what ‘conveyor belt’ experience.
The chicken pate was okay but not great, and once I cleared my plate I was left feeling that the £3 I paid was fair. A glass of Pinot Noir later and my steak arrived. Apart from the rare occasions when you receive a melt in the mouth rump, to me, steak is steak. Unfortunately this rather pricey sirloin was certainly no exception.
Apart from the fact that it was cooked well and the chips were very tasty, I have nothing else positive to say. The anchovy butter was pleasant at first, but then was far too salty and fishy. It was so overpowering that towards the end of my steak I felt as though I was eating anchovy flavoured cow, which nobody wants to pay £18.95 for.
I didn’t end up ordering a dessert as my bill had already clocked up to near £26 for a mediocre and bland two courses with a glass of wine. I left the impressive building with a hole in my bank account feeling as though I had paid for image – ‘the place to be seen’ by other students in the Greggs across the road – rather than substance.
Don’t bother going for the early bird menu, it is not worth it. However, leaving this review on a bombshell, on looking at the evening dinner menu, the options are far more tempting, less limited, and go hand in hand with the beautiful surroundings, making it the perfect place for a first dinner date or an evening with the parents.
This last statement may seem inconsistent with my early bird experience, but #imjustsayin’!