As far as chain restaurants go, I’ve always had the impression that Browns has a reputation of being a pretty ‘safe’ meal option. My last encounter being 3/4 years ago I assume was an average meal, as I have no particularly positive or negative memories of it. What’s even stranger is I have no photos of it either, I have photos from virtually every single good meal out for the last 13 years at least!! No joke; just ask my poor, poor husband!
Since then I’ve known it more for the odd after-work drink with colleagues, jostling my way through the rest of Leeds city workers to get to the bar.
So after receiving an invite to review their service I was intrigued taking the other half for an Easter Monday lunch. It was still fairly early and not particularly busy when we arrived, but one of the problems I’ve always found is where do you go if you’ve got a reservation or would like a table? Maybe I’m just really unobservant! The signs have never really jumped at me, but luckily as we walked near their beautiful grand piano we were greeted and taken to a table in a lovely spot of their upper dining area.
During the day they offer a ‘Lunch and Early Menu’ with dishes to choose from, such as traditional fare Fish & Chips and Steak pie to something more adventurous, like Crispy chilli duck flatbread and Ricotta, beetroot and truffle Tortellini.
In terms of price; the lunch menu – starters are £3, main courses and sandwiches are £6-£12. Whereas the Early Menu is priced at £6-£9.50 (starters) and £10-£19 (main courses).
Having already had a morning of bacon and eggs I wasn’t after anything particularly large, so seeing some smaller main courses was definitely a good thing .
The starters looked very inviting, I’d stuck to the lunch menu and ordered the baked mushrooms (£3). They were woody and meaty in flavour, had been cooked well so still had shape and weren’t too mushy. The fricassee was lovely, with plenty of garlic and a hint of madeira, I would have liked more chilli though. It was an enjoyable first course all in all.
The OH loves goat’s cheese (£7), and there was a generous round of it coated in a walnut crust, sitting on top of golden beetroot discs with a Pico de gallo salsa, (an uncooked salad of chopped tomato, white onion, and chillies) and a sweet pomegranate molasses vinaigrette. It went down REALLY well and was finished in a matter of minutes. I think he was a happy man and LOVED it!
For £6, my Crab and King Prawn Linguine was a decent size. Everything was well cooked – al dente pasta tossed thoroughly in a nicely flavoured coriander pesto, the prawns were moist and juicy and the dish had plenty of crab woven through it. A topping of raw Lamb’s lettuce gave a little nutty tanginess to the dish. I could feel my cheeks developing a rosy glow, but I would have welcomed a little more chilli. Overall I was pretty happy with it.
The OH’s fish & chips at £9, was also portioned up well, plenty of thin cut chips that were as good chips should be – golden, crisp and fluffy on the inside. The Pollock was well cooked with a thin crispy batter. The accompanying sauces were on the whole very good, with homemade tomato and tartare sauces all hitting the right spots, while the peas were more crushed than mushy, so even though had good flavour from mint and peas, the OH wasn’t so fussed on the texture.
I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised by the food, and the service was great! Our server Philip was friendly and attentive throughout, I couldn’t fault him really. I’d recommend it certainly for a leisurely lunch, I can’t comment if the quality of our experience would change during a dinner service when Browns can get very busy.
Food: Reasonably priced lunch menu. A varied choice of dishes if not a little safe, but has a good range of classics and family favourites. They could push the boat out a little with some more adventurous plates.
Service: Friendly, polite and attentive without being too in your face.
Atmosphere: Relaxed ambience, we were sat by the windows in the corner so had a lovely view of the restaurant.
DISCLAIMER: I was invited to write a review of the food and service, so our meal was complimentary.Browns 72 The Headrow Leeds LS1 8EQ 0113 243 9353 http://www.browns-restaurants.co.uk/locations/leeds/