The old adage that life begins at 40 certainly looks true according to the brand new look given to established favourite, Browns (sic) in George Street.
Edinburgh’s version of the Brighton founded chain is a mere teenager but is happy to join in its parent’s birthday by turning itself out in splendour. The beautiful new Belle Époque style brasserie with its Palm Court ambience of soothing subtle colours looks more 1873 than the 1973 they’re celebrating but a welcome and tasteful change. In keeping with the anniversary date, there’s a fun £19.73 menu special for two for registered regulars that looks worth checking out.
Browns, based in The Capital’s business centre, is a permanent part of the Edinburgh restaurant and bar scene. “It’s more than a major face lift”, says general manager Tony Craig. “It’s a statement of intent about trading on George Street. Browns as a business has been around for forty years and, with this investment, I’m confident we’ll be here for a good many more years too.”
“From the floor up, it’s a new Browns,” he continues. “Now, you see more of what the location adds to a visit. Eating out has changed a lot in forty years, everything else has too. Browns has moved on a lot, and the book’s a good way of showing where we’ve been, where we’re going.”
Behind the scenes, even more effort has been lavished on new kitchens. Head chef Fraser Lewis isn’t thinking nostalgically, as his team see the business-end of the reworked building put to good use. “Well, a new kitchen is just Christmas come early for a chef,” he says. “We couldn’t ask for anything more really. So many so-called refurbishments are all about front of house, but this is a sweeping improvement, right through the business.”
The showpiece cocktail bar with its shiny brass table tops where you can relax before dining and, if you’re there on the right night, listen to the tinkling notes of the live pianist, a regular feature that’s been retained for the new look. The toilets downstairs keep the sagey sea green colour scheme and have some fine Edinburgh images in each cubicle as well of course as some delightful Molton Brown soap and hand cream. Always a bonus! More Edinburgh images are also around on the brasserie’s walls.
On the evening of the birthday launch, canapés were served giving a flavour of the standard of food on offer. There was squid in exquisitely crisp batter, gorgeous mini burgers, mini steak baguettes with caramelised onion, feta salad served in a chicory leave, goujons and chocolate brownies ranging from dark to white variety. Every one a miniature treat!
At the bar, a notice announces the availability of a variety of flatbreads but on the night in question, folk were only interested in drinks. The poor bar staff were being run off their feet dealing with the 40th party launch as well as with regular customers but managed a fine non-alcoholic Bloody Mary and Diamond Fizz in the end. Less cool than their waiting colleagues, they need a calmer take and plenty of eye contact with any queue of punters to keep patience and tempers steady.
Browns has definitely come of age and what can be nicer that to spend a summer evening, or any other season for that matter, in a soothing stylish Palm Court atmosphere where the staff swishing in Parisian style full length aprons delivering food and clearing away with a quiet friendly efficiency.
Browns Bar and Brasserie
131-133 George Street Edinburgh EH2 4JS
0131 225 4442