Food Review: Browns

Bayan Parvizi continues his culinary odyssey with a disappointing post-bop brunch at Browns.

Bop Browns Brunch Nymph


Parvizi Eats: Browns Restaurant, 23 Trumpington Street

Browns happens to be one of those bistros that for no apparent reason students feel is a treat to go to when parents are in town or for cheeky cocktails before May Balls.  The bright interior makes you feel like you’re in a second-class dining room on the Titanic or a Cuban hacienda with its hung fans, sky lights and indoor fauna, yet though initially feeling classy television screens with Sky Sports News tinge the atmosphere in addition to a rather naff self-playing piano. However despite these minor issues every restaurant should be judged by its food first and foremost.

After a rather boozy night at a college bop where I had to continually reassure myself there was nothing wrong with a twenty-three year old partying with teenyboppers and which ended up with me offering a nymph £50 if she could name the man on my keyring – she couldn’t – he was Atatürk – and I was forever reminded not to ever use 1930s dictators as opening gambits, I was sufficiently hungry in the morning for a hefty brunch.

Swinging through the 1930s-styled doors my companions and I were met by a smartly dressed man who told us we had to order within five minutes otherwise we would miss the breakfast/brunch service. “Don’t listen to him he’s being arsy” our waiter, a chirpy, well too chirpy gentleman in his thirties informed us. There was dissent amongst the rank-and-file it seemed. One of my fellow diners went for the Eggs Royale (£6.95) an eggs Benedict dish but served with salmon, whilst the remaining two of us opted for the Traditional Breakfast (£6.95). Nursing horrendous hangovers great expectations were had and none more so than my friend who made rather meticulous enquiries as to whether the orange juice was freshly squeezed. “Of course” Chirpy replied and within a couple of minutes we noticed his colleague pouring carton OJ into our glasses. Said friend, a lawyer, refused to let it go and Chirpy was summoned. Apologetic he agreed to cancel the order and Perry Mason, case solved, opted for the Browns Breakfast Smoothie (£3.50) instead.

The food arrived to rapturous internal applause our zombie like exteriors unable to display our true appreciation but that was to be the sole highlight. The smoothie was a rather hefty concrete coloured and textured drink, a mashed up tracker bar if you will. Undoubtedly toothless mountaineers love it but for £3.50 it lacked any finesse and looked revolting. In one respect the restaurant was not faced by great critics yet the food was so dire that not even a night of vodka and Wham! could sidetrack us from the cold, overcooked mess which faced us. The Eggs Royale was topped with a glutinous hollandaise sauce and my friend – yet another lawyer – commented that it was a “sub-rate egg bagel” of which “you’d get better during half-time at Spurs”. And it was cold! The traditional breakfasts were no superior, sticky overcooked beans, dry eggs, cremated black puddings and a watery mushroom, which tasted awful looked worse.

It soon became apparent to Chirpy that we had far from enjoyed the meal; the half finished plates and untouched smoothies giving our dissatisfaction further credence. He didn’t even ask us how we found our breakfast; unsurprisingly we weren’t given a comments card. 

We left the restaurant, noticed lawyer A had got a parking ticket, and though we’d had a rather terrible meal I couldn’t help but feel that though bad, this restaurant does retain a certain indescribable allure and that despite all my misgivings I would go back – but not for brunch.

Ambience: Jacqui Smith’s Marital Bed
Service: Anton Du Beke
Pricing: £££
Overall: Amy Winehouse

(Read part one of Parvizi Eats here)