nearby the bustling atmosphere of st martin's square in birmingham, we arrived at the steps of browns bar & brasserie to the soft sound of live jazz music and glow of elegantly lit tables. we were shown up the grand staircase to the second floor of plush seating and a brilliant view of st. martin's church through the large windows. more than happily seated, we scanned the delicious menu and awaited a couple of glasses of wine and signature bread board.
i went for a glass of pinot grigio rose whilst my boyfriend enjoyed a rioja over a platter of artisan breads with a black olive tapenade, aubergine caviar and arrabiata and anchovy butters. he couldn't get enough of the tapenade whilst i fell in love with the anchovy butter. worked for me! apologies for the dark photographs - the lighting was very moody and almost felt moonlit by the large glass windows and balcony.
i have to say the bread arrived way before the wine which was such a shame since the rest of the service was outstanding. i'm told their system means that different people make drinks and others organise the food order. so it sounds easily done - but if it happens a lot then maybe something that needs looking at.
with an extremely apologetic and friendly waitress who explained this to us, i wasn't one to dwell on it :) five minutes later we were hit with some incredible starters...
roasted goat's cheese with walnut crust, pico de gallo salsa, golden beetroot and a sweet pomegranate molasses vinaigrette; think tangy popping pomegranate seeds, sweet sticky sauce and a creamy goat's cheese with crunchy outer. yum.
i went for pan seared scallops with a mild curry dusting, cauliflower purée, tempura florets and a grape, garlic and shallot vinaigrette. i know the idea of flavours "cutting through" others is a cliche explanation but the combination grapes and the scallops was the perfect example of this. the chef also proved cauliflowers aren't always boring with a crunchy curried tempura and soft bed of puree which took the edge off the citrusy grape. i would definitely order this again!
for main, again arriving in perfect timing, i ordered belly of pork with an orange and cumin glaze, creamed bacon and savoy cabbage and aspall’s balsamic caramelised apple with a side of buttered mash.
in the picture this looks quite crispy, though in fact i could cut through this with just the side of my fork; melt in the mouth and packed with flavours. the bacon and cabbage inspired me for my next roast and the buttered mash lived up to its name. sorry mum but i didn't touch the apples - just a combination that my brain understands but my taste buds don't enjoy i'm afraid.
apologies again for the photo - this is the quickest snap i could get of the 28 day aged west country rib eye steak served with anchovy butter, watercress, roasted plum tomato, baked flat mushrooms and chunky chips. i was assured it was fantastic - though i wasn't at all jealous whilst enjoying my buttery pork belly.
to round off the evening, rather than desserts we went for "aftertails" which are cocktails inspired by delicious desserts! i went for a hazelnut martini and the mr chose an after seven mojito. i would never usually choose alcohol over pudding but these seemed too good to pass up. for once i was right.
why not find out if there's a browns restaurant near you? i thoroughly recommend it! i'm already planning to go to one of their lobster nights...
note: i was invited for a complementary meal though all opinions are wholly my own.