Monday, 25 March 2013

Review - Browns, Oxford

Location: 5-11 Woodstock Road, Oxford, Oxfordshire OX2 6HA, UK
Liking to think of myself as a bit of a 'full english' connoisseur, I have been on the search for the best Oxford has to offer since moving to this diverse city. I've sampled the proper cooked brekkie at St Giles Cafe, the actually quite good at Heston Blumenthal's revamped Little Chef on the A34, the style over substance (think salad with sticky balsamic glaze) at The Grand Cafe and possibly my favourite so far - the relaxing all-rounder The Red Lion on Gloucester Street (by Gloucester Green). 

I'd been investigating where to try next - yes, Jacobs & Field and Oxfork are definitely on the list. One place I hadn't even thought of until they tweeted a simple reminder was Browns in St Giles. I'd been to Browns for cocktails and even celebrated my 30th birthday there, thoroughly enjoying both, but never for breakfast. 

So, prompted by said tweet, I packed MrFoodie and MiniFoodie in the car and headed to Browns for a spot of Sunday brunch.

In a near-sprint from the car to get out of the cold, I completely forgot to get a pic of the outside, but I'm sure any locals will know exactly what it looks like, though may not have visited for a while. It seems to be one of those places that you need a little nudge about.

Food & Restaurant Reviews, Oxford. FoodieOnTour

Happily in the warmth, we got ourselves settled in and ordered coffees, juices and (of course) the full traditional breakfast. I'm certainly no coffee expert, being a decaf drinker, but MrF absolutely raved about his flat white - apparently one of the best he'd had on one of our regular brunch excursions, high praise indeed. The juices were also delicious, orange for me and apple for MrF.

Perfectly timed, rectangular plates of well presented breakfasts were delivered. My only initial gripe was the pile of watercress on each plate (quite the bugbear of mine), everything else looked pretty appealing.

Food & Restaurant Reviews, Oxford. FoodieOnTour

Taste test time... Best thing on the plate? The sausage! Well flavoured and perfectly cooked - a very tasty sausage indeed. Nice flat mushroom (prefer them a big larger myself), plum tomatoes and scrambled egg, decent slice of black pudding, all prepared well and enjoyable but not necessarily stand-out. Bacon is a contentious issue between myself and MrF - both enjoying smoked & thick cut, but disagreeing entirely on crispness. To MrF's delight, the bacon was, in my opinion, undercooked - missing the beautiful intensity of flavour that slightly crisp bacon gives. BUT... I appreciate bacon crispness is a very personal choice. Saying that I never do like seeing flaccid fat on meat (another bugbear).

Food & Restaurant Reviews, Oxford. FoodieOnTour

Overall, it was a very pleasant brunch. Service was polite and efficient, the setting sophisticated and spacious - it has a lovely element of vintage grandeur to it. Drinks were excellent, food was above average, children are welcome and highchairs available. We weren't crammed in like sardines (always a plus) and the food was affordable - total bill came to around £25.

Overall Score: 7/10 (I also did a follow up review that didn't go so well...)

It is somewhere I would return, maybe sampling some other dishes. I would certainly love to try their afternoon tea sometime along with their Thursday 'Lobster Nights'.

If you haven't thought to go there in a while or just haven't tried it yet, pop on in, it's a lovely place.

Browns Bar & Brasserie
5-11 Woodstock Road
Twitter: @BrownsOxford
Phone: 01865 511995

Browns - Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

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