There’s a lot to be said for making a first impression, and unfortunately, the first time we visited the recently opened Browns (Grey Street, Newcastle), we walked out after not being served at all for over twenty minutes. A good start then…

Luckily enough, customer service took charge and invited us back in only a few days later, offering a bottle of prosecco and some bar snacks, pictured. Too tempting!

browns newcastle bar snacks - on flickr

Bar snacks – available in multiples of three cost about £3 each (six for £19), and the choice looks good, with sweet chilli beef fillet, pan fried chorizo, or even salmon, smoked haddock and lobster croquettes amongst the twelve available. We took these three, as well as crab crostini, harissa hoummous, and crispy duck.

The slate plate presentation does look appetising, but on closer inspection – £19, really? Anyone entering the “bar snacks” arena is going to draw obvious comparisons to The Broad Chare, and unfortunately for Browns, you’d be best off with the now-famous pork pie and holy scotch egg.

High points? We agreed on the harissa houmous being the most interesting flavour-wise, with loads of heat but alas, not enough bread to service that much dip. The croquettes were exactly as described, and it’s tartare sauce was a good companion. The crab tasted fresh enough, if a bit crab mayo-ish.

Low points? The duck displayed no sign of ever having been crispy, sitting on a flaccid piece of skin, and there was no more than a tablespoon worth of meat. The beef fillet had suffered death by sweet chilli sauce with no beef flavour coming through whatsoever. Describing chorizo as pan-fried conjures an image of chorizo sausage, not thin slices – no?

The atmosphere was buzzing on Saturday night, and the service was predictably slick this time, but the whole thing is very much chain-pub, with a forgettable cookie cutter interior. The prosecco we had was pretty good (Perla Bianca), but not available on the regular menu? Similarly, cocktails were decent too, though for about £7 you expect them to be spot on.

Next time? Think we’ll stick to The Broad Chare.

Information correct 29 August 2012

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