This review opens with an apology and a slightly embarrassing confession. All my reviews include many images of the food; close up and of table shots, course by course; but unfortunately I managed to somehow delete most of the photographs I took. Yes, I am gutted!
This time we were seated in the bar area of Browns instead of the brasserie seating. It has a lovely feeling in here with the large open windows looking out onto George Street and the promise of some music, however this evening no-one was tinkling on the ivories and the piano was closed for business.
Still, the decorations are lovely, understated yet still festive and our table looked sparkly complete with gold Christmas Crackers, candles and two glasses of Prosecco.
The festive menu is filled with Christmas greats – parsnip soup, turkey and Christmas pudding but there are also some other lovely sounding dishes too.
For starters how about the Duck Liver Parfait with dates, fig & balsamic chutney and sourdough toast; or the Severn and Wye Valley smoked salmon, crispy capers, horseradish crème fraîche and a crostini. We both wanted to order the same thing – the Spiced Parsnip and Apple Soup with Parsnip crisps and British rapeseed oil, but we knew we couldn’t do that as that doesn’t bode well for review purposes.
So my partner tucked into the soup which was definitely parsnip flavoured. I know this sounds quite contradictory, but the soup was smooth and creamy yet still quite textured. A texture that you’d expect from parsnips. You couldn’t really taste the apple but I reckon that added the sweeter taste to what could be a bitter soup. The parsnip crisps were crunchy and light.
I opted for the Prawn Cocktail with brioche croutons and buttered sourdough. Not a dish I would usually have but it was truly scrumptious. Then dish was in no way ‘fishy’; the prawns were cooked perfectly. Large plump fleshy prawns covered in a rich mayo dressing. The croutons added the super extra crunchy whilst the shredded iceberg lettuce was a nice contrast of cold and sweet crunch.
Onto the mains. Here you will find red meat – the beef; white meat – the turkey and the pork; the fish – salmon and the vegetarian option – the Cranberry, Walnut and Almond Roast.
I chose the Braised Blade of Beef with bubble & squeak, forestiere sauce and horseradish cream. This dish was nice. It was everything a winter warmer needs to be. Lush, tender soft beef, with mash, rich gravy and tiny baby onions. It had the potential to be an outstanding dish had it been seasoned. Not a sprinkling of salt and pepper had been used and it was just a little bland. Also I’d have preferred that the underside of the beef had had the fat removed.
My dining partner went for the pork dish. The Slow Roast Belly of Pork with sage mash, spiced apple pie, crackling and red wine gravy. I’ve had this dish before and it was fab. The wee spiced apple pie is genius.
Again another dish that had the potential to be amazing but the pork belly let it down. The pork and the crackling hadn’t been seasoned. Not a grain of salt! So much so that although the crackling was perfectly crispy and crackled it tasted of nothing. I want salt on my crackling! The pork was juicy but bland. The apple pie remains a genius move and the sage potato again would have been lovely had we not had to add our own seasoning.
For desserts you can indulge in the likes of Dark Chocolate Torte or a Cheese Board. We went for the Passionfruit Pie with blackcurrent curd and the Salted Caramel Profiteroles with Devon cream toffee sauce and chocolate popping candy.
The passionfruit again had the makings of a perfect pud, but the meringue fell a little short of even being ok. The curd was too tart and thick and gloopy whilst the meringue was a thin torched layer that didn’t even cover the entire pie. Unfortunately I don’t have an image of it to show you. Very disappointing.
The profiteroles were yum though and these got scoffed by the both of us within minutes. Large, fluffy and filled with cream, smothered in chocolate, allowed to set and served with sweet salty caramel sauce.
Our waiter was brilliant, checking in on us and attending to our every need without being overbearing. The Head Chef was on holiday during our visit and I could definitely tell; some things had slipped through the net!
This review is a tale of two halves. Some of the food was fabulous and some ok. It’s a lovely festive menu that will cater for everyone. It’s a great venue, super location and friendly staff.
Browns Brasserie, George Street, Edinburgh.
Tel 0131 225 4442 www.browns-restaurants.co.uk
My Spoon Award : Bronze 7/10