Eating Out: Browns in Town makes for a special night, no matter what the occasion
Browns in Town
21 Strand Road
028 7136 2889
AND… relax. Death and taxes are certainties, of course. And I can always rely on Everton to tear my heart out, chew it up, and spit it out again. Another banker is a good meal in Derry. You’d struggle to find a bad one. Especially when you see the name of Browns above the door.
The four of us went out for dinner the other Saturday for no other reason than I couldn’t be bothered cooking. When I announced this to the family, my words were greeted with cheers. I’m not sure if they were happy for me, because I was getting a break, or for themselves, because they were.
We decided on Browns in Town partly because it had been a while since we’d been there, and partly because we knew we’d be in for a treat. And because it would suit all of us. The Waterside Browns is close to unbeatable, but it’s maybe a bit too refined for a special-occasion-free family dinner.
Browns in Town, on the other hand, while maintaining the quality and high standards associated with the name, is a bit more down-to-earth. You’ll find fish and chips and burgers on the menu, for instance. And the prices are down-to-earth, too, especially if you fancy the early bird menu, where three courses will only set you back £20.95.
I think I might actually prefer BiT, to be honest, and not only because I lack refinement. The location is better – in the heart of town – and I like the way it’s both spacious and intimate, with its soft lighting, dark wood, and stylish panels curving from wall to ceiling on one side.
We decided to skip the argument about whether to try the dinner menu or stick to the early bird menu (by which I mean I lost the argument) and a free choice from both was allowed. We all agreed to give the starters a miss, though, and this proved to be a wise decision, because a couple of amuses bouches arrived at our table unasked for. One of these was a particularly lovely little plate of black pudding in a crispy coating, soft pork belly, and celeriac puree both light and earthy.
My brother finds chicken curry impossible to resist, so he didn’t bother reading the rest of the menu. He wasn’t complaining. The chicken was beautifully moist and the sauce was fruity and subtly sweet with a slow-building heat. The fluffy, flavoursome coconut rice was a clever companion.
We went for the chargrilled chicken, too. Again, the chicken was beautifully cooked, moist and tender, with the chargrilled skin providing a good, serious, burnt note, which balanced well with the sweet potato puree. My daughter had the fennel and leek soup (which was also given to us an amuse bouche). I really liked this powerful, creamy blend of aniseed and onion.
I had the venison, and not for nothing was this the night’s special. It was mostly gorgeous! Perfectly cooked slices of melting meat sitting atop sweet cabbage, deliciously enhanced by a rich sauce. It came with a venison pie, in a little pot, and this was the only mis-hit for me. Firstly, it was hotter than the sun, so it was some time before I could try it. Then, while the potato topping was good and crisp, the actual contents were a bit of a let down.
The puddings were pretty good. The blackberry cheesecake was smooth and creamy and full of flavour, although the base was too thin and soft. The double chocolate brownie was deeply rich and so nicely gooey that I couldn’t speak for about 10 minutes after eating it. The lemon posset was the winner for me – not too sharp, not too sweet, just the right, light, jolly end to the meal.
This was a cracking meal in a lovely restaurant. The food was terrific, the service was friendly and attentive, and, although we weren’t there for any special reason, it felt like a special night out. I might give up cooking on Saturdays altogether.
Child’s fennel and leek soup £3
Chargrilled chicken, sweet potato puree, crispy leg bon-bon £18
Chicken curry, peppers, yoghurt, coconut rice £18
Venison, venison pie £20.95
Double chocolate brownie, chocolate sauce, ice cream £4.50
Blackberry cheesecake, ice cream £4.50
Lemon posset, berry compote, raspberry sorbet, shortbread £4.50
Child’s ice cream £3