By Jessamy Baldwin
After a cool refurb and fresh menu redesign, Browns Bristol has really pulled its socks up.
Browns had always been a reliable eatery. Now however, with its chic art deco-meets-modern interior design and elevated cuisine, it’s a real culinary destination rather than a one-course pit stop.
Old black and white photos of the city adorn the high walls; the colour scheme is black, white and slate grey, with vintage emerald and mustard green booths/comfy chairs. Dark wooden floors and tables keep things cosy; whilst the giant mirrored mosaic behind the bar adds a touch of glamour. For those of you – like myself – who are big on ambient lighting, there are candles and an abundance of funky metal lamps throughout.
The dining area is vast and the bar area becomes relatively packed by 8.30pm, but that’s not to say you can’t have an intimate meal. In fact the many levels, alcoves and tucked away areas mean you often have your own little ‘zone’ to call home for a few hours.
Now for the best bit… da food.
I asked the hubby if he’d come along with me to check out the new menu. As you can probably guess, I didn’t have to ask twice. We got dressed up, hopped in a taxi to town and came away wanting to do the whole thing over again.
The wine list is fairly extensive and suited to all tastes. We opted for a Cave de Fleurie Beaujolais. Light, silky and supple with floral and berry aromas, it’s one of our all-time favourites.
To start, we went for the whole baked Somerset camembert which came with warm toasted bread and tomato/rhubarb chutney. We are big cheese fans. In fact, in our circle Dave’s nickname is ‘Monsieur Fromage’, so this went down an absolute treat. It’s not for the dairy faint hearted however. It is a WHOLE camembert after all. Why did it work so well? So often you order this dish or it’s served at a dinner party and the cheese isn’t quite ‘there’ yet. It has to be molten throughout and this was. Yasss.
If you think that was enough to start, you’d be wrong. British mussels in a white wine, garlic and parsley sauce were also up for the tasting. A good plate of mussels or ‘moules’ is a fairly fool proof test for a restaurant I reckon. If done well, they are beyond delicious – hot, flavoursome and comforting. If badly executed i.e. cold, not freshly cooked with little or no sauce, they are pretty inedible. These were the former I’m glad to say. The portion is also pretty ‘main’ size, so you certainly aren’t being ripped off.
Other tempting options include beef carpaccio with parmesan crisps, pea shoots, and a tarragon/lemon mayonnaise as well as asparagus and prosciutto ham served with a poached free range egg and hollandaise.
For the main event, Dave went for the roasted lamb rump that came with potato gratin, crushed minted peas and red wine jus. I continued along the seafood front and opted for the whole grilled lobster which came with garlic and parsley butter, avocado mayonnaise and fries.
The lamb came pink, as requested and as it should be. Again, an extremely generous portion arrived and the eating was indeed as good as the looking. Thankfully, the potato gratin – another risky customer – was moist, punchy with garlic and soft. So dreamy.
My lobster was delicious. The only qualm? I wish there had been more. I adore lobster but when you get down to the nitty gritty, there isn’t much real meat to enjoy. But that’s the nature of the beast… or shellfish. Still, the flavour was all there and it wasn’t overcooked (easy to do).
Portobello mushroom tart, pork belly, fillet steak and pan fried sea bass are also available.
They say you should always save the best until last (in all things) and in this case, that old adage rang true. Dave picked salted caramel profiteroles which took us straight back to childhood and our parents’ dinner parties. Also, who doesn’t love salted caramel?
But the star of the show was the chocolate brownie.
It came hot, with honeycomb ice cream poised on top and Devon cream toffee sauce. Desserts don’t come more indulgent or delicious than this one. We are big bakers and dessert eaters (sorry not sorry) and we both said this was one of the best puds we’ve had for a while. If you’re on a diet, stay clear. My view? Worth it even if you are.
This review appeared on Best of Bristol on 26th Feb 2017.