Browns Brasserie and Bar, Leeds – Restaurant Review
Browns Brasserie and Bar, Leeds
by Steve Crabtree / @stevecrab
Browns, the iconic and recently renovated restaurant and bar on The Headrow in Leeds launched their summer menu recently. And in this beautiful warm weather, my friend and I decided to check out their new offering one Friday evening, as we set ourselves up for a sunny weekend.
We made our way to the top of town and entered Browns and immediately saw the charm and character was the same. Class and elegance, but a pretentious-free zone. There was only a very subtle difference in look for me. It never seemed broken, so it didn’t need a fix. And I liked that.
“Classic brasserie dishes”
We were led over to a lovely table in the very far corner of the restaurant by Alice, our waitress for the evening. She offered us cocktails as an aperitif whilst we were handed the menu. My friend chose a Rhubarb & Cucumber Collins (£8), while I went for the trusted Long Island Iced Tea with Diet Coke (£8.50). A nice way to begin a warm summer evening.
Scanning over the menu, we had a lot of choice. One thing Browns has been renowned for over the years is their array of freshly-prepared, classic brasserie dishes. Alice had a sound knowledge of any option that we asked about, but in fairness we didn’t have much of a dilemma. We knew what we wanted.
My friend had been in a fish mood all day, and he had some good options to go for. He plumped for the Pan-fried Scallops (£8.45) to start, and the Lobster Risotto (£16.95) for his main. As for me, the Camembert option (£9.95) jumped right out at me to begin with. And I couldn’t resist the 9oz Rib-eye steak for my main dish at £19.95 Medium rare of course.
I noticed that Alice didn’t write our order down when she took it. I liked that. But it brought out the eagle-eye in me. I’d be hoping she got our entire order right, but I would be checking!
“Upmarket, but relaxed feel”
The interior at Browns is lovely. The Grade-II listed building was acquired by them in 2001. Prior to that, it was the home of the Leeds Building Society, and Browns have retained much of the original features. Wood-panelling has been preserved in one of the private dining rooms – formerly the bank manager’s office. And the large windows are still there, letting in an abundance of natural light in to the brasserie.
It certainly has that sort of upmarket, but relaxed feel. Well presented staff, who are very down to earth. The whole atmosphere was really nice.
As our starters were served up, a glaring error occurred like I’d feared. However, that was on my part. It was yours truly who hadn’t read that the Whole Baked Somerset Camembert was a sharing dish. And yes, it was massive! It came with warm toasted bread, and tomato and rhubarb chutney. Undeterred, I delved in, and wasn’t disappointed. The bread was lovely, and the consistency of the Camembert was perfect. The chutney was tangy, but tasty. It went together well.
“Tender, succulent and perfectly cooked”
My friend’s Pan Seared Scallops were impressive. Served with raspberries, black pudding and raspberry vinaigrette, they were fresh and light. Done perfectly.
Presentation of both dishes was excellent, and we didn’t have a grumble about either plate.
So far, so very, very good. Two satisfied customers looking forward to their main course whilst devouring a lovely bottle of the Passage Du Sud Vermentino house wine (£21). Nicely recommended, by the way.
Alice brought over our main courses. Again, nicely presented, my rib-eye steak was absolutely spot on. It was one of those knife-gliding moments. It was tender, succulent, and perfectly cooked to medium-rare. The accompanying sauce, the house fries, and the dash of garnish made up a wonderful plate.
I didn’t try my friends Lobster Risotto, but I don’t think he would have let me anyway. He was savouring it. It had a lovely aroma, and was made with Parmesan, cherry tomato, chive and lemon. I was assured the flavoursome dish was the perfect choice, and he later told me it was light, fresh, and he’ll be returning for the same option soon.
And when those dishes came to an end, we still had room for more. It was time to order our desserts, and I’d already spotted the Salted Caramel Profiteroles (£6.25) – so those were mine. Even reading the name of them had me drooling. Alice recommended them too, so my mind was made up. My friend decided to go for the Sticky Toffee Pudding (£5.95).
The food had been amazing throughout the night, and the presentation complimented that. But the look of the desserts were a bit special. Like kids at Christmas, both sets of eyes lit up as they were brought over.
“Staple part of the Leeds eating and drinking scene”
After a first taste, we could tell we were finishing our meal off on a good note. We decided we’d share these dishes, and I’m glad we did. The sticky toffee pudding was served with a delightful ginger ice cream, and granola, and to me had a slight popcorn taste and feel about it. But the profiteroles… wow. You can get salted caramel everything nowadays, but when you’ve got five amazing profiteroles, oozing that taste alongside a scoop of homemade ice-cream, that is where it’s at. I was ready to rave about how good the incredible main course was, but the desserts were amazing. If my friend wants to return to Browns for the risotto, I’ll go with him and have the profiteroles.
Browns has been a staple part of the Leeds eating and drinking scene for a long time now. It’s a very classic kind of establishment, the refurb and summer menu has ensured that despite change it has retained its quality and it’s character.
We’d had a lovely evening, with lovely food in a lovely place. Service is to be commended here too, rounding off a really good experience in a place we’ll return to soon.
Browns Leeds – The Light, 70-72 The Headrow, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 8EQ
Mon – Thu: 9am – 11pm
Fri & Sat: 9am – Midnight
Sun: 9am – 10pm
Tel: 0113 243 9353