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Browns, Covent Garden, very very average

I've had previous form with Brown's. I visited their Oxford branch on one of my very first dates with my lovely wife and they gave us a real run around about where we could and couldn't sit and what we could and couldn't order. However I complained to their head office and they were really good at getting back to me and one complimentary voucher later I was happy to use their chain of brasserie type places. The one in Mayfair is a pretty good spot for lunch whilst West End shopping. I had only been to the Covent Garden one for a cocktail demonstration evening many years ago where I won a bottle of vodka for inventing an African inspired alcopop called the "Hakuna Mattata"

On Saturday we were meeting up with Le Grand Tommo, his wife Kirstin and Tommo's brother Matt who is appearing in the Enron musical. It was an early lunch as Matt was in the show and the Tommo's were going to watch. We bought baby G along so everyone could coo over him. Brown's Covent garden is a big old restaurant and is nicely done up. Nice use of the buildings period features and despite being busy you aren't rammed in. We had a long table near the bar with plenty of room for baby's buggy. It was busy in there so baby was more than happy watching the world go by.

We ordered a fairly standard lunch selection, burger, fishcakes, salad and a shepherds pie for me as i was off to the football later. The food when it came looked good but it lacked taste. I was a bit surprised that the kitchen had taken the trouble to slow cook the lamb shoulder and build a very nice looking sheperds pie but then didn't season the dish so it was really bland. Similarly the nice portion of spinach and carrots tasted bland. I was hungry so I finished it but my abiding taste was the pint of guiness I had with lunch. The others found their food fine but nothing exceptional.

Matt went off to make up and we had an hour to kill before the start of the show so we thought dessert would be nice. Unfortunately it took an age to get served. Half the waiting staff seemed to be standing around gossiping the other half working hard. The managers were non existant, for a place this size I would like to have seen someone working the floor chaising up food and helping out the waiting staff. I eventually ordered the chocolate brownie and ice cream which was distincly average, none of the desserts had a wow factor. The bill for us two came to about £40 which would have been reasonable had the food been tasty. In a way "Browns" Covent Garden is a good metaphor for theatreland, it may look nice and offer attractive options but deep down it's just after your money. It is so busy here that repeat custom is not a priority. It's conveniently average.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Overall rating
Food 4 | Service 2 | Atmosphere 8 | Value for money 3

Tapas Brindisa, Borough Market

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