Restaurant review: Browns at The OracleBy Sarah Hamilton
February 01, 2012
Newest kid on The Oracle Riverside block Browns opened just before Christmas where the Ivory Lounge used to be.
The site has a very different vibe now, all French brasserie, palm fronds and wood panelling.
Part of a chain, it offers well cooked square meals of a classic English/French vibe.
My husband and I decided to try out the new restuarant, one I’d never experienced before, for a post-Christmas meal just before the New Year.
Recession? What recession? The venue was busy and buzzing, mainly with family groups swapping Christmas presents and clinking cocktail glasses, so a good time for a new launch as people want to treat themselves – and heck to the credit crunch.
Top of the huge menu, there were a range of nibbles and sharers if you fancied those such as veggie (£12.95), meat or fish platters (both £14.95), box baked Camembert (£8.45) or just a good old fashioned bowl of garlic, chilli and mixed herbs olives (£2.95).
We went straight for the starters selection.
I chose salmon, smoked haddock and lobster croquettes with lemon hollandaise (£5.95) – thin, perfectly crispy outsides with tasty insides. I was pleased it was a modest portion rather than huge cylinders of potato piled on your plate.
My guest had smoked duck parfait with beetroot and braeburn apple chutney and toasted rye bread (£6.45) which he said was really good and flavoursome.
Other starters included mushroom bordelaise with toasted gruyere bread (£5.95), pan-seared scallops with crushed peas (£8.95) and air-dried collar of ham with fresh figs and parmesan (£7.95).
On to the main event – and there was a really good choice of mouthwatering options for all palates. This meant it took us a while to choose.
Four-cheese macaroni, tiger prawn and chorizo linguine and Browns house salad which includes quinoa, pumpkin seeds, various veg and then the option to add eggs, chicken or tuna, were among the attractions.
In the end we both went for grill items.
My wild boar and chorizo burger (£12.95) was very tasty and the accompanying crisp chips were very good.
Only moan was the grilled brioche bun in which the burger came was somewhat cold.
Husband opted for slow-cooked jugged shoulder of lamb (£15.95). It’s served on a casserole of pearl barley, spinach, root veg and onions. He said the meat was really tender and the dish was satisfying – he was pleasantly surprised by its quality.
Other temptations included medallion of Scottish venison, pork belly with cauliflower cheese bread and butter pudding and good old shepherd’s pie.
Curiously, our meals arrived in unusually quick time – especially for a busy Friday – refreshing, but surprising.
Browns’ puddings also ticked all the right boxes for a nippy evening: Devon cider poached pear, pear and blueberry crumble, sticky toffee pudding to name a few. I went for the crème brûlée (£5.45). It had an elastic sugar top rather than the glacial crunch expected but nice all the same.
Hubby had the cheese board (£6.95) with a glass of port. No complaints here.
The restaurant also has a good selection of wines, Champagnes and after dinner tipples.
Everything was very well presented, prices competitive and staff helpful and we hope to return when their live pianist is in full flow on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays.
Browns also offers breakfast and brunch until noon; a sausage or bacon sandwich is £3.95 while a fry-up is £7.95. Afternoon tea is served from 2.30pm which I can imagine would be delightful to do with girlfriends beneath the palm fronds.