Thursday, 7 June 2012

Brown's, Leeds


I'm not about to enter the debate about whether dining at chain restaurants is a good thing, or a bad thing, or morally despicable, or not-what-a-self-declared-food-obsessive should do, or whatever. I might enter that debate, but not right now, suffice to say the following:

Do I eat at chain restaurants? Yes, from time to time. Some are better than others. I enjoyed a meal at Brown's a few years ago so was happy to accept this freebie.

Don't I prefer worthier, independent restaurants? Yes, on the whole. On average they're better and worth supporting over some corporate behemoth. But there's no hard and fast rule. Some independently run restaurants are crap. Some chains have committed staff who care, and sometimes serve decent food. Move along.

Brown's, in the Light, is a big place. Both restaurant and bar, it was bustling on a Friday night. Noisy, but not so loud you couldn't hold a conversation in the dining area. The two of us sat in a comfy corner booth with a good view of the entire room.

The menu is fairly extensive, covering grills, fish, pasta dishes and various other bits and pieces. There's also a specials board which included plenty of seasonal produce, welcome in a chain restaurant as they don't often bother with that sort of thing.

The starters were both very good. I opted for the seasonal choice and had grilled asparagus with prosciutto, a poached egg and hollandaise. The asparagus was tender and not at all woody and the egg was accurately poached with a properly runny yolk.

Across the table the mushroom feuilleté proved popular. That would be a puff pastry mushroom pie in case you were wondering. The mushrooms had loads of savoury flavour which was offset nicely by some caramelised pickled onions that were dotted around the plate.

Next up I chose pasta from the specials board, tagliatelle with smoked haddock, peas and broad beans in a cream sauce. The portion was enormous so I couldn't finish it, but what I had I enjoyed. The pasta was cooked just right, the peas and beans both tasted fresh and bright and the haddock was undyed and not too salty.

A main of belly pork was also declared a success, the meat succulent as it should be. The crackling was poor though, as it was completely rock solid. I liked the accompanying sweet potato dauphinoise too.

We shared a tarte tatin for pudding, which came with good quality vanilla ice cream. The main problem with it was that it wasn't a tarte tatin. You can't cut corners with a tarte tatin by assembling a disc of pastry and some cooked apples then pouring caramel sauce over them. That's not a tarte tatin.

We drank a bottle of Sancerre, a bone dry, minerally, very quaffable white. That was one of the more expensive bottles on the list but there are plenty available for under twenty quid. Service throughout was excellent, efficient and friendly.

Would I return and spend my own money at Brown's? Yes, two of three courses were pretty good, and the service and atmosphere pleasant. With so many good independents on my 'to do' list I doubt I ever will though. Prices are maybe a little steep, with starters around £5-8 and mains £10-18.

Browns Bar & Brasserie Leeds
The Light
The Headrow

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...