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Browns New Menu Review

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After a cool refurb and fresh menu redesign, Browns Bristol has really pulled its socks up.

Browns had always been a reliable eatery. Now however, with its chic art deco-meets-modern interior design and elevated cuisine, it’s a real culinary destination rather than a one-course pit stop.

Old black and white photos of the city adorn the high walls; the colour scheme is black, white and slate grey, with vintage emerald and mustard green booths/comfy chairs. Dark wooden floors and tables keep things cosy; whilst the giant mirrored mosaic behind the bar adds a touch of glamor. For those of you – like myself – who are big on ambient lighting, there are candles and an abundance of funky metal lamps throughout.

browns mirror

The dining area is vast and the bar area becomes relatively packed by 8.30pm, but that’s not to say you can’t have an intimate meal. In fact the many levels, alcoves and tucked away areas mean you often have your own little ‘zone’ to call home for a few hours.

Now for the best bit… da food.

I asked the hubby if he’d come along with me to check out the new menu. As you can probably guess, I didn’t have to ask twice. We got dressed up, hopped in a taxi to town and came away wanting to do the whole thing over again.

The wine list is fairly extensive and suited to all tastes. We opted for a Cave de Fleurie Beaujolais. Light, silky and supple with floral and berry aromas, it’s one of our all-time favourites.

To start, we went for the whole baked Somerset camembert which came with warm toasted bread and tomato/rhubarb chutney. We are big cheese fans. In fact, in our circle Dave’s nickname is ‘Monsieur Fromage’, so this went down an absolute treat. It’s not for the dairy faint hearted however. It is a WHOLE camembert after all. Why did it work so well? So often you order this dish or it’s served at a dinner party and the cheese isn’t quite ‘there’ yet. It has to be molten throughout and this was. Yasss.

cheese at browns

If you think that was enough to start, you’d be wrong. British mussels in a white wine, garlic and parsley sauce were also up for the tasting. A good plate of mussels or ‘moules’ is a fairly fool proof test for a restaurant I reckon. If done well, they are beyond delicious – hot, flavoursome and comforting. If badly executed i.e. cold, not freshly cooked with little or no sauce, they are pretty inedible. These were the former I’m glad to say. The portion is also pretty ‘main’ size, so you certainly aren’t being ripped off.

mussels

Other tempting options include beef carpaccio with parmesan crisps, pea shoots, and a tarragon/lemon mayonnaise as well as asparagus and prosciutto ham served with a poached free range egg and hollandaise.

For the main event, Dave went for the roasted lamb rump that came with potato gratin, crushed minted peas and red wine jus. I continued along the seafood front and opted for the whole grilled lobster which came with garlic and parsley butter, avocado mayonnaise and fries.

The lamb came pink, as requested and as it should be. Again, an extremely generous portion arrived and the eating was indeed as good as the looking. Thankfully, the potato gratin – another risky customer – was moist, punchy with garlic and soft. So dreamy.

lobster

My lobster was delicious. The only qualm? I wish there had been more. I adore lobster but when you get down to the nitty gritty, there isn’t much real meat to enjoy. But that’s the nature of the beast… or shellfish. Still, the flavour was all there and it wasn’t overcooked (easy to do).

Portobello mushroom tart, pork belly, fillet steak and pan fried sea bass are also available.

They say you should always save the best until last (in all things) and in this case, that old adage rang true. Dave picked salted caramel profiteroles which took us straight back to childhood and our parents’ dinner parties. Also, who doesn’t love salted caramel?

desert

But the star of the show was the chocolate brownie. It came hot, with honeycomb ice cream poised on top and Devon cream toffee sauce.

chocolate brownie

Desserts don’t come more indulgent or delicious than this one. We are big bakers and dessert eaters (sorry not sorry) and we both said this was one of the best puds we’ve had for a while. If you’re on a diet, stay clear. My view? Worth it even if you are.

Browns location: 38 Queens Road, Clifton, Bristol, City of Bristol, BS8 1RE

Browns website: http://www.browns-restaurants.co.uk/restaurants/southwest/bristol 

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Happy Bird Comes to Roost in Bristol

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Happy Bird Arrives In Bristol

Taking flight this coming Friday (26th Jan), Happy Bird is the latest opening on Bristol’s Whiteladies Road. Dedicated to quality, this brand new restaurant and take-away serves up fresh fried and grilled chicken reared the way it should be.

Nesting in the Yorkshire Wolds

Happy Bird’s dedicated bosses scoured the land in search of a chicken farmer with the right attitude to animal welfare, and they found one in the rolling Yorkshire Wolds. Farmer Ed’s pullets aren’t cooped up in the hen-house and force-fed grain, they’re free to flap around the pastures and enjoy the outdoor life. Fed on a diet of corn and fresh herbs – with no artificial flavourings or additives – these free-range hens enjoy the good life far longer than the average battery bird.

Clucking nice gaff

The interior of Happy Bird’s  brand new outlet is all bright neon lights, sleek metal grills and clean lines, with an egg-inspired yellow and white colour theme which reminded me that chicken was the order of the day – though that might not have been deliberate. Either way, it’s a stylish and enticing setup.

Diners can take a seat and eat in at any of the benched tables, or ‘Cluck and Collect’ with the take-away service. And if you want your chicken to wing its way to you instead, Happy Bird run a home delivery service.

Feeling peckish?

Happy Bird’s menu offers up tasty treats like honey and chilli-glazed wings, grilled breasts and crisp, fried tenders, making the best of the meat on each bird. Tender thigh and breast burgers made a nice change from the usual beef, and you can have it rolled into a burrito too – all accompanied by a delicious range of greens and salads. A selection of seven colourfully-named home-made sauces add a beautiful ‘zing’ to the meat, complementing the flavours perfectly.

For a restaurant that has taken such time and care in choosing Bristol as a location, I was a little disappointed with the beer selection. I like the Magic Rock brewery as much as the next crafty hipster, but we have so many wonderful breweries in this city there’s no shortage of choice. That said, it’s very early days at Happy Bird HQ, and I dare say they’ll be knocking on the doors of a few local breweries soon.

Happy Bird’s simple aim is to provide the best chicken in town, and I think they’re off to a strong start. With such evident care given to sourcing the meat and setting up a pheasant pleasant space to dine in, they deserve to do well.

Happy Bird sits by the entrance to Clifton Down Shopping Centre, and you can check out the full menu here. For more of Chris Callaghan’s reviews and write-ups, you can find him here.

Author’s note: I was invited to try Happy Bird’s offerings free of charge, and really enjoyed it. I thought you might too, so I wrote this.

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The Big Bristol 2017 Quiz

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The Big Bristol 2017 Quiz

Ere love, so you think you know everything about Bristol this year then do you? Take our quiz and see where you rank on the gurt lush-o-meter.

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Why I F****ing LOVE Bristol

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I know that this is going to sound slightly ironic when reading this; here we are, yet another non-Bristolian who moved here some years ago and never looked back, raving about why they love this city so much, yadda yadda yadda.

But, I’ve not travelled far. I came to Bristol six years ago from the quieter, smaller landscape of Exeter in Devon, so I’m keeping it within the South West. I’m not from London (can I say that?!) insert winking emoji here. I jest of course.

But what is it about Bristol that has me convinced I will probably (most certainly) never move myself back down to the shire? Why do I want to stay here? I thought I might write down some of the reasons why I FUCKING LOVE BRISTOL.

Bristol’s Food

bristol food

Well, let’s start with the obvious. I love to eat, but I never realised just how passionate I was about food and everything connected with it until I came here. There is a strong focus on sustainability, being ethical and supporting local and surrounding businesses – it’s collaborative, enthusiastic and extremely positive.

Bristol is surrounded by plentiful and beautiful greenery, perfect for foraging and collecting ingredients to be used in kitchens. It also means there are farms right on the city’s doorstep, providing us with a great selection of organic and free-range meats or poultry, vegetables and dairy. We really are situated within the West Country’s glorious larder. The food we enjoy in Bristol’s independent restaurants is fresh and of high quality, and it really doesn’t get much better.

No one is jostling and fighting for the spotlight, and if anything, restaurants, kitchens and bars actively promote each other across various platforms and encourage locals and visitors alike to give their city neighbours a try. We’ve got some strong offerings across this patch, all serving up quality and variety. I’ve always said if there is a certain cuisine, or dish that you fancy, you are most likely to find it somewhere in Bristol, and nine times out of ten, it won’t bankrupt your wallet. Growers, producers, farmers, restaurant owners and chefs all work together here collaboratively, and I fucking love it.

The Bristol Lingo

When I first moved to Bristol, I lived in Horfield and had the chore of commuting to and from the centre every day. Hearing the immortal words, ‘cheers drive’ has never grown old though, and now I don’t get the bus anymore I kind of miss it (not the bus journey, but the saying). The Bristolian lingo is one I love and I have learnt many new phrases since arriving here; who knew that getting your hair off meant you were in a pissy? Or the end of a loaf was the topper? I’m not sure I can get on board with smoothing the cat rather than stroking it, and I couldn’t get away with saying I was going to see ‘are muh’ but I love hearing it. Plus, I will never tire of being called ‘love’, ‘lover’ or ‘babber’ by friends and sweet strangers. There’s something so heart-warming about it.

Creativity

I haven’t seen a city fully embrace creativity and freedom of expression like I have seen it in Bristol. Embraced so much so that, in fact no one bats an eyelid. There are often events happening that I just don’t think would go on in other places, and I’m not sure if this is because there is a much stronger independent offering here which allows more flexibility, or that there are just more creative minds in Bristol possessing quirky ideas (I’m going with the latter).

Whatever it is though, I’m not complaining. I’ve twerked to hip hop in an actual fish and chip shop, I’ve dressed up as a hero of Ancient Geese and ran from pub to pub like a madman with my teammates to complete challenges which included throwing crab sticks down each other’s pants, I’ve danced to Golden Lookin’ Chain at the amphitheatre and the one closest to my heart; I led the Big Bristol Burger Crawl with the help of some very special friends, restaurants and a wonderful group of enthusiastic eaters. I would never have been able to do this in my hometown, for various reasons but mainly because it’s on such a smaller scale. I’ve created hilarious memories and fucking enjoyed every minute whilst doing so. Friends and family often comment to me how jealous they are that I live in a city with so much going on all the time, it never gets boring and there is always something to do.

Power Ballads at the Fleece

The first Friday of every month sees this epic club night at The Fleece and no matter how many times I go it never gets old. It’s a no frills, no-holds barred karaoke session basically, with you and every other reveller on the dance floor. There have been many occasions when I have belted out 4 Non-Blondes and Whitney Houston whilst flaying about and being my own air guitar master; serenading complete strangers who also meant to only go out for ‘one’ after work on a Friday. It’s a bloody laugh innit.

Baps…

natalie burger

I couldn’t write down the reasons I love Bristol and not mention the burger scene. For anyone who knows me knows how much joy I get from chowing down on a bap and we are truly spoilt for choice with options all over the city. Of course I understand the arguments for having too much of one thing, but I disagree. I believe each establishment offers us something different; there are places to takeaway, to sit in and have cocktails, restaurants that are better for families and venues which aren’t afraid to try something new. It would be pretty boring if they were all the same anyway right?

asado

Through my love of eating, I’ve also managed to forge some lovely friendships with the teams behind the buns, and their enthusiasm for bringing the best to Bristol is wonderful to see. I often get tagged in burger photos on Instagram and on Twitter, and receive messages from friends and strangers asking for recommendations on where to get their next burger fix and this brings me no end of joy. I’ve been able to meet, communicate and discuss all things meaty with a bunch of new faces which I really love. It’s just another reason (aside from them being delicious) that I will always champion the Bristol burger gods and for some people to call me Bristol’s burger queen is beyond a compliment.

Action for Change

There are so many examples of initiatives and events I could shout out for this example of why Bristol is special, so big up to everyone championing to make a difference in any way they can. Not only do individuals recognise problems and the need for change here, but they actually roll up their sleeves and start doing something about it.

The 91 Ways events have proved hugely popular across the city, and the idea behind it is really quite simple; uniting people through the love of food. Bristol has a diverse range of communities that live together and these events are designed to fuse these different cultures and promote a healthier, more sustainable city. It also allows communities or people who may feel isolated or out on a limb to make connections with others and engage in important discussions. It is ideas like this that allow people from all walks of life the chance to come together.

There are also smaller scale (but no less important) projects, such as Incredible Edible Bristol which promotes the use of land (no matter how big or small) to grow food. The team here, made up of volunteers and partners have created over 30 edible gardens in spaces across Bristol and the food grown is free and for anyone to take away and eat.  This initiative has also introduced a scheme to get schools involved, so that youngsters can see the importance first hand of being able to grow and eat sustainably.

As in every city there are charities designed to help the less fortunate, so this is not something new in Bristol, however the support and willingness of people to get stuck in and help knows no bounds here. People collecting donations of food and warm clothes to hand out to those sleeping on the streets, unwanted/unused scarfs tied to lampposts so that those who are homeless can take them to keep and fund raising events are just a small selection of ideas I have witnessed whilst living here. Care in the community has never had more of a profound meaning.

So Bristol, I love you, do you mind if I stay?

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