10 January 2011

Review of Browns Bar and Cafe, Brown Thomas, Dublin

As I sit here with soup at my desk on my first day back in work, I'm consoling myself by thinking back to lunch last week with my friend Joanne, in the considerably snazzier environs of Browns Bar & Café in Brown Thomas, Dublin. Recently opened on the lower ground floor, we kicked off our last hurrah of the festive holidays here on Friday surrounded by the odd impeccably groomed couple, a well-known Irish designer (we think) and other ladies who lunch.

Browns Bar & Café is run by the Kemp sisters, who also operate the third-floor restaurant at BT’s alongside itsabagel, itsa4 and itsa @ IMMA. At first we were a little disappointed with the look and feel of the place, but we’d initially been seated at a little table on the fringes of things, and once we were moved to a larger spot in the centre of the room, we were more taken with the atmosphere and the general surrounds.

The menu was a different matter: we took to that right away. It’s small but carefully selected, with a variety of sandwiches, tarts and salads as well as a tempting array of pastries, cakes and coffees. I was initially veering towards the warm croque monsieur but in the end Joanne and I opted for exactly the same dishes: an open crab sandwich on brown bread, followed by the lemon pot with biscotti and washed down with a glass of prosecco and a couple of coffees.

Strangely enough, our waiter elected to bring over our desserts at the same time as our main course, a practice which may contribute to the fast turnaround rate for tables; when we arrived, he told us that “they move fast, here”.  When enquiring as to how we were enjoying our meal, about 3 seconds after it had arrived, he also took the opportunity to ask if we wanted a tea or coffee yet. No wonder they move fast, we thought, but this oddity aside, service was grand and pleasant, and certainly quick.

More importantly though, the food was gorgeous. The open crab sandwich was light and tasty and served with a simple rocket salad and a wedge of lemon. The lemon pot was heaven in an espresso cup, mouth-wateringly tangy and a lovely custardy consistency. And needless to say, the prosecco went down a treat, too.

The bill came in at just under €50 which we reckoned wasn’t bad for what we’d had, considering the prosecco was €8 a glass, and we’d had two courses and a coffee each.

We were happy and we’ll be back, was the consensus, but we’d really, really like it if they ditched those fake roses and had a fresh flower on the table for the next time.

*Image courtesy of Joanne and her trusty BlackBerry!
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