Browns, Queens Road: Review

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Mick Dickinson of BuzzedUp enjoys a midweek dinner on the Triangle…

 

We all know Bristol has an incredibly vibrant food and drink culture. Festivals almost every weekend from May to September… new restaurants, cafes, delis and street food ventures popping up with head-spinning frequency… our city is — rightly — always in the news.

With so many brave new eating adventures appearing left, right and centre, one might be forgiven for overlooking the epitome of tradition, Browns Bar and Brasserie: a mainstay of Bristol’s restaurant scene, seemingly forever. Just off the Triangle and at the top of Park Street, Browns’ imposing facade echoes the Doge’s Palace in Rome, and occupies perhaps the number 1 restaurant location in the city.

Be prepared to sip slowly if watching the world go by on the terrace: a regular gin and tonic and a pint of Estrella will set you back £10.50.

It has to be said that a visit to Browns is dramatic and one to savour. Brown’s interior is really to be marvelled at. The room is vast, set on two levels and with many semi-private areas. Large, circular windows throw light across the grand piano and create a warm ambience for those enjoying the space. While taking in the view, my partner and I nibbled away at some large Nocellara olives and imagined ourselves to be extras in a film about the British Empire, palms and ceiling fans wafting away!

The service was second to none. Waiting staff are all immaculately turned out, polite and knowledgeable. When the bottle of St-Emilion I ordered proved out of stock, we were offered a very acceptable Pinot Noir in its place, together with interesting notes on its provenance.

A starter of pan-seared scallops (£9.50) came with a delicate cauliflower purée, offset with a very sharp grape and shallot vinaigrette — not to my partner’s taste, but I thought it was tip-top when I helped myself. My parfait of chicken liver and brandy (£6) had real punch, and was paired with a rhubarb and tomato chutney, a knockout combination.

 

Scallops

Scallops

 

Chicken liver parfait

Chicken liver parfait

 

Main course options range across plats du jour (slow cooked ribs on the day we visited); classics such as steak pie; fish, salads and pasta (an interesting lobster tagliatelle caught my eye). I chose from the grill, opting for a wild boar and chorizo burger (£14), served with a feisty salsa, homemade ketchup and sliced pickle. If that wasn’t enough, a mountain of super-crunchy chips and a pile of subtly-cooked onion rings rounded out a real feast. I heartily enjoyed every bite, but found myself wishing I’d had no lunch, as the dessert menu was beckoning.

 

Wild boar and chorizo burger

Wild boar and chorizo burger

 

The second main course proved to be the only slight disappointment in an otherwise faultless meal. Examining the pork belly (£14.50), we struggled to find much meat amongst the fat. It really was a shame, because the rest of the plate tasted so good: creamed bacon and savoy cabbage, plus some zingy caramelised apple.

 

Pork belly

Pork belly

 

We finished off a thoroughly enjoyable evening’s dining by sharing a towering Eton Mess (£6): cherries, white chocolate, hazelnuts and clotted cream, all washed down with a fresh mint tea.

 

Eton Mess

Eton Mess

 

The a la carte bill for our meal-plus-wine would be in the £80+ bracket; but the eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed Browns’ current dining offer: a three course meal for two at £29. Not to be sniffed at by cost-conscious foodies.

Browns’ history, location and grand scale; its fascinating interior and very traditional attention to detail and service; the very large menu with ‘something for everyone’; all these mean it appeals to diners looking for a theatrical experience when eating out. For those in Bristol for a limited time, Browns should be on your list of restaurants to take in. For Bristolians, it’s well worth a second, third or fourth visit.

 

Please note: this meal was received free of charge, but in no way impacted on our opinion. We were not obliged to write a positive review, and the venue did not see this review before it was put up on the site.

 

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