Browns Bar & Brasserie - Leeds
The Headrow, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 8EQ
Since the first site opened in Brighton nearly 40 years ago, Browns restaurants have become renowned for two things in particular: excellent food and beautiful settings. The Leeds restaurant, one of 14 nationwide, is visually stunning with a classic colour palette of colonial cream accented by verdant hanging baskets and wooden floors. The premises, a former 1930s banking hall, has a spacious feel with mammoth windows, high ceilings and live piano music completing the relaxed ambience. Gleaming brass shines in the glow of the pearlescent orbs and artfully placed mirrors. The menu is a reflection of the location: unpretentious yet classic, stylish yet familiar. There's a wealth of choice including appetisers to share, light starters, salads and fish, substantial main meals, Browns' signature dishes (the steak, mushroom and Guinness pie is simply timeless), plus sides and decadent desserts to finish. After sampling a classic cocktail each (a bubbly Browns Bellini and a cooling Elderflower and Cucumber Collins), I started with the black pearl scallops (£7.95) which were perfectly cooked and served atop a sizeable bed of creamy pea risotto. My companion had the crab and avocado stack served with crunchy focaccia sticks (£6.95). The fresh crab meat was given a lively kick with chilli salsa, which was perfectly balanced by ripe avocado and creme fraiche. For mains, we chose duck breast (£14.45), accompanied by crushed celeriac with a citrus jus, and from the specials chalk board, lemon sole with sweet potato chips and salsa (£11.95). Both dishes were beautifully cooked and exquisitely presented. Original crowd-pleasers of sticky toffee pudding with clotted cream and vanilla cheesecake with ice cream rounded off the meal alongside a double macchiato. Browns boasts a well-stocked bar and an extensive wine list, and caters practically round the clock, offering brunch, afternoon tea and Sunday roasts. A set price menu and special menus for groups extend Browns' ample hosting capabilities. The service was faultless; both our waitress and the general manager were friendly and attentive, which made my mind up early on - it certainly would not be my last visit to Browns.