“ Address: 51 Grey Street Newcastle , NE1 6EE „
*This is a review of Brown's Bar and Brasserie in Newcastle, which was written shortly following mine and my family's visit there in June 2012. This visit was made not long after this particular restaurant opened and so some changes may have been made between the date we went and the date that this review was published.*
On my recently visit home to Newcastle to see my parents, we decided to go out with my grandma for lunch, as I hadn't seen her since I was last at home at Christmas. My grandma in particular is a creature of habit, who often likes to go to the same familiar places, and so my mam was keen for us to go somewhere new, if she was up for it, in order for her to do something different from her old routine. Considering that Brown's had recently opened on Grey Street in town and none of us had had the chance to go there yet, it seemed like a good choice and my grandma was very open to the idea. My parents and I have visited Brown's restaurants in London and Edinburgh a few times before and enjoyed our time there and so had reasonable expectations for the place.
== The Location and Getting There ==
Brown's Bar and Brasserie has prime of place in central Newcastle, being located towards the top of Grey Street (near Grey's Monument and the Theatre Royal). It is therefore easily accessible by car, although parking on Grey Street itself can often be difficult whatever the time of day. If you want to go and park you'd probably be better off parking in the multi-storey on Dean Street just down the hill and walking up. Its proximity to the monument also makes it easy to get to from the Metro stop and any buses going to the city centre will stop only five or so minutes away, so there are no problems in terms of public transport access. Grey Street itself is also a lovely place to be situated and that part of town is full of lots of nice restaurants as well as being near some of Newcastle's best shops.
== Our Meal There ==
It has to be said that Newcastle's branch of Brown's is absolutely lovely, and I was probably more impressed by its décor than I was of its London and Edinburgh counterparts. My grandma was very interested in its 1950s-esque style and we all loved the massive centre bar with a vast array of spirits, wines and beers. We had booked a table and were glad that we had done as, despite it being a Thursday lunchtime, it was very busy and we probably would have had to book had we not called ahead. We were seated on a slightly raised area on the right a few steps up from the main floor, where about half of the restaurant's tables were situated.
We were given wine and food menus and set about choosing what we were going to have. We decided to get a bottle of white wine between us and after perusing the menu, my eye was caught by a wine that I had a feeling I'd tried at a wine tasting only a couple of days previously (I try to live the good life, you see) and loved, and so we happily ordered a bottle of that. We decided not to have starters as we'd not been there before and had no idea what the portion sizes were like and didn't want to risk not being able to finish our mains and thought that we would have a pudding afterwards if we were still hungry. The lunch menu was lovely with a lot of things that I would be happy to choose. I was very tempted by the wild boar burger, as I love well made burgers as well as slightly unusual meats, as well as the belly pork or duck breast with a red wine and black cherry sauce, but in the end I decided to go for the Browns House Salad. This wasn't because I was dieting or anything, but rather because I often feel that you can't beat a delicious salad and this one sounded so nice: it included edamame beans, avocado, broccoli, semi-dried cherry tomatoes, pomegranate, butternut squash ribbons, green beans, spinach, chard, chicory, baby gem and toasted cous cous and then a choice of poached eggs, chicken or salmon. I really fancied the eggs and so had that, happy that my choice sounded nice as well as very healthy. My grandma and dad both went for the wild boar burger that had tempted me so, and my mam had the salmon and smoked haddock fishcake. Other options on the menu include British classics such as Fish and Chips as well as some other salads and pasta dishes. There was a cheaper lunch deal menu at the top of the menu, which had mains at a few pounds cheaper than the main menu, but none of us chose anything on offer here.
Before we ordered, our waiter let us know that our wine was on its way but that, as we were the first people to ever order it there, the staff were having trouble finding it. Since the restaurant hadn't been open for very long and we didn't imagine that Albariño wines did get ordered that often, this didn't particularly bother us, and thankfully it wasn't too long before it was found. The wine itself was delicious and very similar to the one I had tried at the wine tasting, but I believe it may have been the same grape and vineyard but a different year or variety, but I'm not sure. Despite a slight confusion with the ordering our food was ordered and we happily waited with our wine.
The restaurant was very busy, but it was a nice busy and gave the restaurant a lot of atmosphere. Considering that they hadn't been open for very long at all, this was a great sign, and made it much more enjoyable place to have lunch than somewhere quiet. We had to wait a little while for our food and actually noticed some people who arrived after us being served their food first, but we didn't really mind and didn't have to wait an overly long time.
== The Food ==
When it did arrive, the food was lovely. I was glad that I went for the salad as, although it wasn't the best salad I've ever had, it was very nice and all the ingredients complemented each other well. That said, I had a bite of my dad's wild boar burger and have to say that it was even better and was a very well made burger indeed. The chips that came with it were absolutely gorgeous as well and thankfully he didn't mind me stealing quite a few of them and my grandma let me finish hers when she couldn't eat any more (told you my salad wasn't a health-based decision!). My mam's fishcake was also gorgeous and I would be tempted to go for that next time, despite never really being in the mood for fishcakes, however nice I often find them.
Half way through our mains we ordered another bottle of the same wine, as the first had been so nice, and we reckoned that once they'd found the first bottle they'd have no trouble finding the rest. Our waiter (who was lovely, by the way) took our order for it but again quite some time passed and it had not arrived, and then he came back and said that the first bottle we'd had had in fact been the only bottle in the house(!) and they were all out of it. We were more amused by this than anything as he was very canny and apologetic about it and promised to get in a case for the next time we came. He said he'd take it off the bill and we asked for a bottle of house white in its place, which was incidentally also very nice, but not quite as good as the albariño we'd just had, unfortunately.
After our mains we were a bit full but decided to look at the dessert menu anyway. There were so many nice sounding things on the menu that we couldn't really pass any of it up and so had one each. My grandma and I both had the salted caramel cheesecake (just how good does that sound?), my dad had the Brown's Eton Mess and my mam the Apple Tarte Tatin. We didn't have to wait too long for our desserts, as far as I recall, and my god were they gorgeous. The salted caramel cheesecake was really good and I'm glad I went for it, as I always do love a good cheesecake and this one did not disappoint. My dad's Brown's Eton Mess, which came with cherries, hazelnuts, white chocolate and clotted cream (my god, I could drool just thinking about it) was exceptional and I stole a few mouthfuls of it as well in exchange for some of my cheesecake. My mam's apple tarte tatin was also lovely and she really enjoyed it and was glad she went for it.
== Price and Paying ==
When the bill arrived, my mam asked me to check it over just to check it had been done correctly (bizarrely, as we very rarely do this) and we were glad that she had, as we noticed that we'd been charged for two bottles of the albariño, despite having received the only one in the building, and not for the second bottle that we actually had. I pointed this out to the waiter, who apologised and said that he'd change it straight away, which he did. Instead of adding the second bottle, however, we were only charged for the original albariño by way of apology for the bill mistake as well as there only being one bottle of our requested wine available. The bill ended up being around £110 for the four of us, which my parents felt was quite reasonable as it did include a more expensive bottle of wine as well as two courses. We could have gone for slightly cheaper options for food and wine and the bill would have been lower, but we were happy with our choices and the value of our time there.
== Conclusion ==
This was a lovely place to have lunch and I am glad we went there. My salad was very nice and my cheesecake delicious, and the rest of my family greatly enjoyed their meals as well. Despite a few hiccups, which we put down to them not having been open very long, we had a lovely time and would be happy to recommend it and probably will go back again in the near future.