Often you might read a restaurant review which lays into a place, points at ludicrously ridiculous flavour combinations on menus and you sort of think, that reviewer already knew that meal would probably be terrible but did it because we all know bad reviews are so much more entertaining to read than good ones. Now i'm not a self serving food masochist, but about half way through my meal at the recently opened Browns on Grey Street in Newcastle I thought 'o well this is going to be an amusing review to write.'
And then perhaps an even worse sign than that, I completely forgot i'd even eaten there until I recently read a similarly non-plussed review over on Newcastle Eats. As an aside, if you've ever come here foolishly thinking you'd get a balanced, considered opinion on Newcastle restaurants, food events and news, you're in the wrong place, head to that site instead.
As a chain restaurant and somewhere that i'd normally avoid like the plague, i'm not really sure why we even thought going for lunch at Browns would be a good idea. It seems almost unfair to criticise it as there wasn't anything necessarily wrong with the meal, it's just everything about the place makes me feel so wearily depressed. And then I think about the small places with personality, that make one high street distinguishable from another one, struggling and going out of business and I think fuck, that's what's really unfair.
So the food wasn't terrible at Browns - if it was these places wouldn't survive, they have to be consistently average - the chips were actually good (see I said one nice thing) I had a minute steak, cooked to order but lacked any flavour with a wedge of fridge cold, artificial lemon butter and some wilted, tired salad leaves. The other half had the burger, which although not cooked pink, was ok, terrible bread and came with a side of gherkins much to his pleasure. I'm sure the cocktails might be half decent, the bar kitted out to look like some 1960s New York affair, but I ordered a latte, what appeared was a crime against coffee and I stared at it, looked out the window at 9 bar and felt dirty.
It's not even the food that bothers me the most about these places, it's that they're so fucking sterile, plastic plants and shit photography in black and white to make it appear 'arty'. The service is always polite but you know they have some corporate policy to follow, so the words they're saying aren't even their own.
But this is obviously what most people want, otherwise they wouldn't be everywhere, I just wish they knew what they were missing out on.
Browns is at 51 Grey Street, Newcastle, you can find there website here.