Generally speaking, those people that are acquainted with me know my feelings regarding chain restaurants and PubCos (let’s just say it’s not usually a pleasant tirade I venture on when asked). On this occasion, I was more than a little curious to wander into town to investigate the opening of a new branch of the Brown’s (which has now been operating in one form or another since 1973) in Liverpool One to coincide with its 40th Anniversary.
Upon doing a bit of research and speaking to a couple of colleagues who had been to other branches in the UK, very consistent opinions were brought forth; mainly consisting of ‘decent if unspectacular’, ‘well-put-together pub menu food’ and ‘classic dishes done well, but nothing mind-blowing’. Possibly less than generous and not a singing appraisal of what Brown’s brings to the table; but not entirely misleading either. In fact, I’d venture it’s actually less than they deserve based on the strength of the preparation of the food myself and cohort were given upon our visit.
Thankfully on this visit, having a few friends along for the ride made exploration of the menu a less greedy affair than if I’d attempted to try more than 2-3 courses alone. Upon being seated in the wood, glass and brass (a nod to the classic 1930s feel the restaurant seems to aspire to) surroundings we were enthusiastically encouraged to try and order as much variety from the menu as possible, thankfully the variety of the menu made doing so quite easy. A difficult selection had to be made for the starter with crab, lobster, scallops, venison, tuna carpaccio and goat’s cheese all making an appearance.
The tuna, lobster and venison dishes were all chosen by my colleagues, whilst I elected to pursue a crab and avocado stack. As a confession, I am less than enamoured with avocado usually, but on this occasion it performed its role perfectly in allowing the salty sweet white crab to sing atop its platform. A brittle rectangular crostini presented some additional texture and a means to dilute the rich stack of cucumber, crab, tomato, avocado and dressing. The soft, sweet and tangy tuna carpaccio was excellently executed aside from an over-generous glug of vinegar-acidity, most likely from the Dijon mustard. The slaw and other elements complimented the sashimi grade tuna very well indeed. The rather Spartan portion of lobster croquettes was initially a disappointment, with two golden-brown parcels leaning on a small salad, however; having broken into the crisp shell there awaited a superbly seasoned and flavoursome filling of lobster meat and potato only serving to highlight a requirement for at least one more croquette to be entirely sure that you loved it. The venison, as with the tuna, was deliciously pink and served easily on the eye and with a flavour to accompany.
The mains were rather more standard options; with two steaks (rib-eye) both cooked succulently and presented with proper chips to mop up any residual steak juice, a pasta dish combining crab and king prawns and the wild boar and chorizo burger. All dishes were presented well and cooked equally so, although running out of pie was a slight disappointment to my colleague, he had soon forgotten about crusty pastry when presented with a generous slab of boar, cheese and chorizo. The selection on the menu covered salads, seafood and grill options that if they are all executed thus, form the bedrock to a very pleasantly solid dining experience.
On this visit, I did decide to be greedy and partake in dessert, along with two of my cohort. Brown’s do specialise in chocolate brownies, with the option taken to test this boast on the dark chocolate and pistachio ice cream offering. The brownie was soft and giving with a lovely balance handled by the ice cream, nothing to set fireworks off, but satisfying nonetheless. The salted caramel cheesecake is very a la mode, but well presented and given an added dimension with the lime sauce and drizzled caramel around a well made tranche of cheesecake. The Eton Mess was a variation on a theme and again, well put together with cherries, white chocolate, meringue and cream, looks of softened satisfaction were present all round the table.
As with any restaurant that had just opening (or about to open in this case), there were some teething problems present with the staff co-ordination, but expect these to be ironed out in due course as the enthusiastic members of the team become comfortable in their roles. Everyone was friendly with a pleasant attitude on the evening and made dining at Brown’s an enjoyable experience. In terms of price, some dishes are more reasonably priced than others and they hide the cost of the beers altogether in the drinks menu which can lead to a little unpleasant bill reading if you’ve put a few pints away.
A well thought out menu, cooked well, presented well and paired with a comfortable environment in which to dine, this is another good option for a dining experience in the city.
Until next time!!
Browns can be found at: 43a Paradise Street, Liverpool, L1 3EU
Telephone: 01517 091 693