There has certainly been a raft of praise for Brace and Browns since its bar and kitchen opened for business back in the Spring. So, when the Best Foodie Friend (BFF) and I encountered a spanner in the works in terms of the venue for our next natter and nosh-up, it was the first to spring to mind as an alternative. Fast-forward to the evening in question and it's fair to say that we were really rather excited to be checking out Brace and Browns consistently complimented cuisine for ourselves...
Date and Time: Friday 3rd September 2011, 19:30
Name of Establishment: Brace and Browns*
Location: 43 Whiteladies Road, Bristol
Reason for Visit: Dinner and drinks with the BFF (yes...we do this a lot!)
In order to reach the peace and quiet of Brace and Browns' inside space, the BFF and I initially had to fight our way through the buzz of the typical Friday-night merry-makers who, warming themselves beneath heat lamps, had flocked to this venue's popular decked exterior terrace, (no doubt to make the most of the fading evening sunshine). Having never visited 'Deasons' (the sites former occupant), I suppose you could say that I had a clean slate when it came to any preconceptions regarding how the interior had been utilised. Consequently, I can report (without comparison nor contrast) that the décor has been classically arranged with deep reds and browns that tie the rich hues of the furniture, as well as the wooden expanse of the flooring, in with the intended colour-scheme. A distinct focus on well-known British branding, plus, food and drink manufacturers from the past are interestingly amalgamated within a tasteful feature-wall – the subtle soundtrack also seemed to adhere to this 'years gone by' theme; ranging from a generous helping of 60's Motown to The Beautiful South! Furthermore, the framed Marmite pop-art was considered a great touch and, as lovers as opposed to haters, the BFF and I enjoyed the view from where we sat! Service was efficient and friendly and although our table was waited by a number of servers, proved systematically well-informed and polite.
|Brace and Browns' Feature Wall|
On to the food and the BFF and I felt somewhat compelled to sample a selection of morsels from the Tapas menu which we had heard so much about prior to our visit. The originality and imagination behind this array of mini-plates proved fresh and exciting and, although predominantly British, has also been inspired from cuisine from around the globe. Despite discovering that the 'famous' Yorkshire pudding' was no longer on the menu, there was certainly plenty to choose from. Split into four categories of; meat, fish, vegetarian and sweet treats, the dishes are priced at one for £3, three for £8 and four for £10. Alternatively, you can opt to have everything the menu has to offer for a reasonable £60 – great if you're dining as part of a large group or...have a hollow leg! Moving on...the BFF and I decided to choose six dishes in total, two each and two to share. I chose the chicken skewers with a satay peanut sauce which, beautifully presented with a flourish of tiny pink (and I hope edible) leaves, were succulent and flavoursome. My second dish was the cauliflower and parmesan bhajis which were generously portioned and crisply textured with a drizzle of curried cream – just divine. The BFF was equally as impressed with the dishes she chose; the pork belly with a cider and apple chutney was reportedly very tasty and albeit proving a little chewy, was complimented perfectly by the chutney with its tangy sweetness. Her second dish, the halloumi, was exactly as described on the menu – perfectly grilled. We shared the pesto and tomato schiaccialella which, described as 'fancy Italian bread', consisted of two crisped pizza rounds with an amazingly juicy, not to mention vibrant, topping. Lastly, it would have been rude to ignore the 'treats' section of the menu and so for pudding, the BFF and I shared the mini scones with vanilla clotted cream and jam. Now, I can confidently say that the cream was not clotted, (more so a light whipping cream) but it was a pleasant accompaniment nevertheless with the vanilla's distinctive flavour a delicate delight with every mouthful.
Besides Tapas, there is a great assortment of Gastropub-style grub to choose from; burgers, risottos and salads all feature here but it was the Chef's omelettes that particularly caught my eye – at only £6 there are three options including honey glazed ham and smoked cheese or wild mushroom and spinach – simple yet delicious; especially, if the quality of the ingredients sourced for the Tapas dishes are anything to go by. In addition to this, I can't document the cuisine at Brace and Browns without mentioning their Sunday roasts and, on the last Sunday of every Month you are even invited to flip a coin for a chance to enjoy your dinner for free, (normally £12.50). However, the Brace and Browns' Sunday roast has been alluded to as one of the best in the central Bristol area and thus, I certainly intend to find out for myself whether this is the case with or without a lucky coin toss!
Back to the evening at hand and to wash down our meal, the BFF and I both chose a glass of vino; she, a Sauvignon Blanc and I, a Pinot Grigio, both of which lapped at a rather sizeable glass for just £3. I think as a larger party, a jug of Pimms may have gone down rather well and, although I didn't check out the line-up on this occasion, I did hear the unmistakable whizz of a cocktail shaker implying that there is indeed a wide range of tipples – some of which I will indubitably have to sample upon my next visit!
Overall, a great evening – classy surroundings, service which was commendably on-the-ball for a busy Friday-night and dishes which are well-presented, adequately portioned and scrumptious to say the least! I love that Brace and Browns have redesigned the concept of Tapas; drawing on aspects from the great cuisine of Blighty and beyond as opposed to simply sticking to the usual Spanish-related suspects. The appeal of diversity coupled with the option of feasting on as little or as much as you wish makes, in my view, for a winning combination and is ideal for the indecisive among us (myself included) who consequently, can try a little of everything! With this in mind, I can’t wait for my next visit - no wonder the praise for this venue has been consistent, I shall be undoubtedly be echoing what others have said for anyone who will listen!
And now for the second opinion...
The BFF gave Brace and Browns 9/10 and in three words, described her experience as 'diverse’, ‘imaginative’ and ‘delicious’.