Liz Coggins samples the gastronomic delights of Brown’s
What have Brown’s and the musical Charlie and the Chocolate Factory got in common? The answer is simple pure imagination because when I step into Brown’s restaurant, housed in the iconic former Leeds Permanent Building Society Building, I am transported into a “world of pure imagination” as the song goes.
For step into Browns and you could be dining in Paris, London, New York or indeed any European capital city. The high ceilings, the dark heavy woodwork, antique mirrors, potted palms, marble floor and those fantastic floor to ceiling windows. The waiters in their starched long pinnies and the cacophony of noise adds to the ambience – no other Leeds restaurant shares this unique ambience.
It was a warm balmy summer Thursday night and customers who had taken advantage of lobster night,one of the restaurant’s themed nights, were just finishing off their repast and those seeking a quiet or even romantic meal were just arriving.
The meeting and greeting, as usual, for all the customers was first class and so was our waiter’s advice on the selection our pre-dinner drinks. We opted for the blackboard special cocktail and we were so glad we did. It was the Brown’s Sangria Cocktail with Elderflower, Sparkling Rose Wine, Soda and Mint served over crushed ice and this at only £5 went straight to the top of my summer cocktail list – in fact to the top of my any cocktail list.
When it came to choosing starters we were spoilt for choice. My colleague opted for the Asparagus and Prosciutto. Beautifully presented it came with a poached free range egg and a lemon and chervil hollandaise. The choice was a hit with each of the ingredients bringing out the flavour of the other.
I chose the Classic Caesar Salad. I love this dish but am so often disappointed even in the top class eateries. There’s a secret to this and its not a pile of wet lettuce with rock hard croutons and shavings of cheese. Browns though, have got it right.The lettuce was dry and crisp and the roasted croutons just right and they even remembered the anchovy to bring out the flavour.
To accompany our meal we decided on a Pinot Grigio White which was good value and came suitably chilled.
Our choice of mains we decided to be traditional but with the Brown’s twist. My colleague chose the Korev Fish and Chips – line caught cod in St Austells Korev batter, twice cooked chips, pea and min puree, pea shoots served with tartare sauce and lemon. Her verdict – the batter was top class light and crispy, whilst the chips were very crispy but light and fluffy in the middle. The pea and mint puree gave a gorgeous kick to the dish, which was beautifully presented and the portion was more than generous.
I opted for the steak Bavette Steak Frites described as a minute steak. Again it was a generous portion and excellent value at £13 and was cooked to perfection. I realise its hard to cook a well done steak and still leave it moist and tender but the kitchen certainly achieved this goal. To accompany my steak I chose my favourite rocket, pomegranate, radish, edamame salad that comes with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing. This salad is heaven because of the fusion of flavours and unique to this restaurant.
It was a long interval for us before we decided to indulge in our sweet. I chose Eton Mess and as a test, because I don’t like cream, I asked for the dish without cream but with ice-cream. Voila – heaven on a plate arrived obviously specially tailored to my requirements and not just strawberries plonked on ice cream with a crumbled meringue like I’ve experienced in other establishments. This was a work of art.
My colleague had the Brioche and Butter pudding with cinnamon and dates and custard. It was light and fluffy and she loved the fruit addition but found the custard a tad too overly sweet.
We ended our meal with coffee and I indulged in my favourite aftertail. After Dinner Browns – that has to be tried to be believed and is a must to finish any meal at this establishment.
As we sat over our coffee and liquors we looked out across the square – now which capital city were we in?