Review: Browns Brasserie and Bar

Image credit: Lawford and Leeman

Early last week, I was invited to visit Browns Brasserie and Bar – near the Fitzwilliam Museum – which was made all the more exciting with a peruse of the mouth-watering contents of their online menu. Needless to say, I was highly enthusiastic to take up the challenge of being a food critic for the evening, and armed with my trusty aides – a keen-palated foodie and a vet hoping to avoid anaphylaxis by egg and nuts – I was prepared to test what Browns had to offer.

First walking into the restaurant was a little disconcerting for three students: we were quickly pleased to have dressed up to make an occasion of the evening, as it certainly had a different atmosphere to a place where you might grab a pizza with friends. But recently renovated, the new Browns is stunning, and we were quickly put at ease by the warm welcome we received – especially the lovely waitress who served us, who by the end of the evening was telling us of her move to Cambridge from Hungary, and recommending places to visit (apparently Lake Balaton, the largest freshwater lake in Europe, is not to be missed).

But the main focus of the evening was the food, which I can confirm was as delicious as it looked on Browns’s website.

First up were the starters, which were perfectly sized portions for the ravenous students we are: an entire camembert with breadsticks was the choice of the foodie, crab on toast for myself, and onion soup for the vet. Although the onion soup was a slightly peculiar challenge to eat – the long strips of onion meaning you either had none or a mountain on your spoon, and it was hardly a place you wanted backsplash from a slurped onion strand to speckle your glasses – we were all highly impressed with the perfect flavouring and presentation of our food.

Next up, the mains. I unashamedly double-fished, following crab toast with a fish pie, and was not disappointed with the perfect ratio of fish-to-pie in each bite. The lobster risotto took time to impress, however: the ribbons of raw courgette atop the meal, I am reliably informed, were “Warm, dry, and lemony”. Clearly, food is not the place for artistic license in the eyes of a student. But once these were fought through, the meal itself was delicious. The third choice of main was perhaps the best of the three: the slow-cooked pork was succulent and formed a hearty meal, the only complaint being the over-salted crackling (although the presentation, with each piece stood up in the mash potato like a flagpole, certainly went some way in compensating for its mis-seasoning).

And the grand finale: the desserts. While I went for the sticky toffee pudding, which was a perfect balance of sweetness that didn’t overpower, and the foodie chose the banoffee pie, which came with half a caramelised banana, and the exciting addition of chocolate popping candy – choice was a slightly more limited for the vet. Fruit salad is usually the only option available with such allergies, and sorbet with a dish of berries was the choice made – but pleasantly surprising was the drizzle of honey, which spruced up the plate of fruit that might otherwise have felt a sorry second to the delectable desserts we chose.

Browns were out to impress – each of us were given a cocktail of our choice, and later a bottle of prosecco to share with our desserts – but it seemed all diners were given due attention, and this was not solely special treatment for ‘the reviewer’. With the great variety of choice of delightful food, the more affordable set menus, and the kind staff, Browns is definitely a place to go with visiting family for a special occasion.

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