Sunday, 6 May 2012

Review - Browns Bar & Brasserie, George Square, Glasgow

Today Nicola and myself headed into Glasgow on a shopping mission to find a dress for Nicola to wear to a Gala Dinner at Celtic Manor Resort in a few weeks. After successfully finding the perfect dress, we made our way to George Square for lunch at Browns Bar & Brasserie.

Nicola had eaten at Browns a few weeks ago with some friends and wanted me to see why she loved it so much. Stepping in off of a rainy George Square, we felt like we had been transported back in time. The interior of Browns has a very decadent feel, reminding me of Rick's Café Américain from Casablanca. Surrounded by polished brass, dark wood flooring, aged mirrors and plenty of green palm trees, and a pianist playing the modern tunes with a classical twist, we were shown to our seats. Our waitress, Stacey, advised us of the specials as well as letting us know that the Signature Cocktails were available today for £4.95.

As we didn't have work tomorrow, cut-price cocktails sounded like a fantastic start for a bank holiday lunchtime.

Nicola ordered the Berry Pomegranate Martini, a blend of Finlandia vodka, Chambord, blueberry, pomegranate & lime. Delicious and fruity were just a couple of the words Nicola used to describe her aperitif. I chose the Kajuma, an adaptation on the cocktail Nicola had ordered, Disaronno Amaretto replacing the vodka and a cheeky splash of Shiraz rounding off a sweet & fruity yet distinctly adult cocktail.

We shared a starter of Roasted Goats Cheese, walnuts, mango salsa with focaccia crostini and raspberry vinaigrette. The goats cheese was salty but creamy and served on the most delicious salsa of fresh mango and chili. All of these flavours were pulled together by the sharp, sour raspberry vinaigrette that was neatly drizzled around the plate.

After such a tasty starter, I was already looking forward to the main courses arriving. As I sat there beginning to understand why Nicola had been raving so much about her previous visit, our food arrived. Nicola is a big fan of the traditional Sunday roast dinner and had deliberated over whether to go for the Roast Pork with all the trimmings or Steak, mushroom and Guinness pie, A tough choice but the pie won out.

I don't think there's anything more comforting than a good steak pie. The chef at Browns knows what he's doing. Under the light puff pastry hat was a rich gravy packed with chunks of melt in the mouth beef, mushrooms and carrots. This was served with an interesting crushed pea mash, this is exactly what it sounds like, soft mashed potatoes blended with crushed fresh garden peas. This dish is proper comfort food, well seasoned and packed with plenty of flavours. If you like steak pie then this will surely satisfy!

When Stacey had rhymed off the specials  earlier, my eyes lit up at the mention of grilled mackerel, so much so that I didn't really look with any great detail at the wide choice on the mains menu. The special was Grilled Mackerel served on a bed of herby couscous with black pudding, with a chili oil and orange dressing.

I love fresh mackerel, and this dish certainly allowed the mackerel to be the star of the show. Four fresh fillets, perfectly cooked and served with a mountain of salad. The couscous was light and fluffy, tossed with sun-dried cherry tomatoes, rocket, baby spinach, red onion and crispy cubes of spicy black pudding. The salad was dressed with a fantastic blend of olive oil, chili oil and orange. Everything on my plate seemed to work so well with all of the other flavours, to the point that I can honestly say that this has been possibly the best salad that I have ever eaten.

After finishing our cocktails, starters, main courses, and not forgetting a couple of glasses of crisp Spanish Airen/Chardonnay, it would have been rude not to see if the desserts were as wonderful as the rest of our meal so far. So purely for the purpose of research, we ordered a slice of Salted Caramel Cheesecake to share.

Cheesecake is one of those things that is either done very well or quite poorly, Thankfully Browns manage to do the former. Rich caramel flavoured cheesecake filling on a crisp, chocolaty biscuit base, topped with a thick layer of salted caramel. As if this wasn't enough for those with a sweet tooth, there was a glossy caramel and lime sauce served around main attraction. This cheesecake was sooooo good and maybe too good for sharing! As I write this post and thinking back to our pudding, I'm wishing that I had only asked for one spoon.

Including cocktails, wine, one starter, two mains and a dessert to share, we were £55. For the quality of the food, the efficient service and the delicious cocktails, I think that we received fantastic value for money. I cannot hesitate in recommending Browns Bar & Brasserie as a top dinner destination, and look forward the next opportunity that I get to head back.


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