At the merest glimpse of sunshine, all roads in the Merchant City seem to lead to George Square, and so it was one brisk but bright spring evening when we found ourselves at the door of Browns Brasserie and Bar. It occupies part of the ground and basement floors of the old General Post Office building that gained a new lease of life as an apartments development in 2001. The restaurant itself has had something of a makeover in recent months with an upgrade to the fancy central bar, a revamped downstairs and plush on-trend design touches across the brasserie.
Browns is part of a small chain of 20 restaurants – including one in Glasgow and one in Edinburgh – that grew out of an original Brighton location. National players have been particularly keen in recent years to secure a landmark spot in the city centre and this is one of the larger and better designed spaces available.
More importantly, the menu gives diners plenty of reasons to visit.
Mid-week there’s the promise of steak frites and a glass of Malbec for £15. Every Friday you’ll be offered a special Champagne menu (and why not). Then there’s the cocktail classes they’ve been offering, the regular afternoon tea, and a Sunday set menu.
Browns signature dishes have also been given a revamp with the promise of a rolling roster of seasonal specials and themes. We’re here to check out the Spring Lamb & Asparagus menu – a double-sided offering that has evening starters and mains or a lunch and early menu that’s available from 12pm – 7pm.
To start, we ordered braised lamb croquette and pan seared scallops with a pea and mint houmous.
It was the first time we’d been served lamb with scallops – an unusual riff on a sort of surf ‘n’ turf combination that is brought together by the pea and the mint into a dish that got things off to a great start. Don’t think about it too much, it works.
On the other side of the table, the starter was the bright and breezy combination of a beetroot and pumpkin seed hash with smashed avocado and poached egg.
Here’s a dish that shows off the fresh flavours of spring and is an ideal small plate for lunch or an evening meal. It was one of the highlights of the meal, exactly what you want from a brasserie meal – simple, tasty ingredients combined with flair.
Our mains arrived, led by slow cooked lamb shoulder served on a white bean stew with baby kale for £17.95.
Last year, in a restaurant in New York, we met a woman who was introduced as the person who re-branded kale. It was an unexpected claim to fame but whatever they did worked, kale keeps its place on the menu going into spring and would have been a fine counter-point to a rewarding block of perfectly prepared lamb if the kitchen hadn’t run out. The kale shortage leaves the rich white bean stew to add another welcome dimension to the dish.
Other lamb options include a no-nonsense old-school shepherd’s pie.
So where’s the asparagus, you may be wondering. Well, in retrospect, it looks like we got a bit fixated on the lamb side of the menu but we’d be happy to return and order chicken & asparagus pie, or asparagus & smoked pancetta linguine later in the spring.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t a night for working our way through the spring cocktail menu, although that would be a productive way to spend a few hours – they’ve a very attractive selection.
Rhubarb came back in to play for dessert when there was a chance to taste a reworking of the traditional rhubarb & custard flavour pairing with a slice of custard tart and a dollop of fresh rhubarb compote.
We also had the crème brûlée, which was served with biscuits for scooping out the sweet.
Overall, Browns enters a new season on George Square in a great position to keep us well fed and entertained. Find your reason to visit.
Browns Glasgow1 George Square
Tel: 0141 221 7828