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Browns Bar and Brasserie EXCLUSIVE preview

Confidential gets a preview of Friday's big opening

Published on January 27th 2011.

Browns Bar and Brasserie EXCLUSIVE preview

Browns Bar and Brasserie in the former Parrs Bank on Spring Gardens is looking fabulous. After a major refurb from its hard-drinking past as the Athenaeum, the place has been burnished, polished and re-arranged and has emerged almost as good as the day it was first completed in 1902 - for further background click here.

The 170 cover marble, mahoghany and plaster jewel will open to the paying public this Friday from 8am. Opening times will be from 8am-11pm Monday to Thursday, 8am-midnight Friday, 9am-midnight Saturday and 9am-9.30pm on Sunday.

The menu is strewn with classics from pan seared black pearl scallops, through veal schnitzel to apple, ginger and rhubarb crumble.

The boss is charming Roman, Marco Ficini, previously of Grado, round the city centre corner, and London Road in Alderley Edge. The chef is Katie Henry, head-hunted from Jamie's Italian in Liverpool.

There's a good wine list, afternoon teas, live piano music, a long cocktail list and review from us coming in about ten days.

Bookings can be made on www.browns-restaurant.co.uk.

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34 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Christopher BryanJanuary 25th 2011.

Looks great. Your link doesn't work though.

Jeff O'tooleJanuary 25th 2011.

It looks like they've made a grand job of that.

Wandered past on Sunday evening and it looked like a full compliment of staff were getting their cocktail training. A good sign.

EARL OF DIDSBURYJanuary 25th 2011.

Looks amazing , when i visited both the Covent Gdn and Leeds Branches they where very good but this was a long long time ago, i've just purchased the 2011 Hardens restaurant guide as i do and it describes the Oxford branch as "so disappointing because it use to be so good, the once legendary English brasserie is totally average and overpriced " , now this is a chain but with a great venue and a decent Head chef it could be a winner , lets hope so for Manchester's sake , i need somewhere else to go now Lusos shut.

HelJanuary 26th 2011.

Ate there last night on the preview - food and service were excellent.

LauraJanuary 26th 2011.

Oh goody, I'm going tonight for a preview night. Looks pretty swanky!

MBJanuary 26th 2011.

Ate there last night. Excellent food, service and atmosphere.
Took a while to get the food, but that was all part of the fun of being at the special menu tasting night.
Anyone going tonight should try one of the house cocktails, £3.95 Sunday to Wednesday. Enjoy.

lyndsaybJanuary 26th 2011.

I ate there on Monday at their first taster evening. Food was amazing and and the service was great too.. staff courteous, polite and not too pushy. Would definately recommend this place to others. Will be some stiff competition for places like grill in the alley as the prices are cheaper and the food quality much higher.

Lou19January 26th 2011.

I ate there last night on one of the preview evenings, the ambience was lovely, and the service was good, but a bit slow, and on three times were were brought food for another table. On reflection I wish I'd taken it, as my own choice of food was very, very disappointing. I'm not an awkward restaurant customer, and really wanted to love it, but I wouldn't have paid for the main course if I'd been paying. Two of the friends I ate with only fared a little better, although one was very pleased with his food.

I'm hoping it was just teething troubles, and realistically the preview evenings should be there to highlight any problems there are. Because of this, I would go back, but I won't be rushing, and I certainly won't be having the fish pie!

GMckJanuary 26th 2011.

if anyone can make it a success, the legend of ficini can!

LovelyJanuary 26th 2011.

I also attended a preview evening - staff great. Venue has had a remarkable restoration - clearly a tidy sum has been spent on this - and the food is very good. Portion sizes are generous, the prices (on the menu) seem reasonable and the quality of the ingredients was excellent. Crab and avocado stack with focaccia was very tasty. The Renaissance G & T is really really good and at only £3.95 mid-week, it was competitively priced too.

Once Jamie O's place opens over the road, Spring Gardens is going to be foodie heaven!

StuffedJanuary 26th 2011.

I ate their last night at the preview night and I had one of the best steaks I'd had for a while - a lovely rare fillet steak. Absolutely delicious! Everyone loved the food at my table.
Our waitress was good - new and slightly nervous but no mistakes so no complaints about the service.
The "door staff" were slightly over eager though - the booking was under my name and due to work commitments I was the last to arrive from my party of 4. Apparently my friends had been asked about 5 times what the name of their party was. Were they keen to make sure people didn't sneak onto the guest list?
Oh and who were the group of about 5 blokes devouring plates of nothing but sliced steak at the table next to the kitchen? Gordo?

Lisa13510January 26th 2011.

Just had lunch there now, wow, delicious food, lovely surroundings what a fabulous building/interior, great pianist playing loads of songs I wanted to get up and sing along to ha, very lovely waitress/service, few things we wanted had been run out of but can't complain for the price of just drinks. I highly recommend. Crab and avocado stack was gorgeous and a very tasty and perfectly cooked salmon. Nom! Hoping to get back there after work for some cocktails (had to stick to mocktails for lunch!!!)

GordoJanuary 26th 2011.

@Stuffed; no it bloody wasn't! They haven't invited me, clearly they are testing it out on you lot, the hoi palloi of Mancunia before they get me in.

AvoJanuary 26th 2011.

Are you not even invited to the launch tomorrow night Gordo? Free flowing champagne and canapes so I've heard.

SleuthJanuary 26th 2011.

Avo, we're all going to that. We're going to try not to break anything as well. Sleuth doesn't think they wanted us talking about the food yet.

daisyJanuary 26th 2011.

Nor me Gordo

Susan BroganJanuary 26th 2011.

just back and it was lovely..
not a lot left on menu so eventually got lucky with our 3rd choices...my duck and stilton salad ended up as chicken and stilton as they had run out of duck!delicious all the same.I opted for a pasta main as no steak,duck or salmon left.I enjoyed it but would have preferred steak.
We decided on dessert as they all sounded good so we tried a little of each others.loved the creme brulee ice-cream.Prices seem ok for a city centre restaurant and will try it again as a full paying guest soon.Loved the decor,the makeover is lovely and pianist is a lovely touch.Oh word of warning..if you find the need for the toilets give yourself plenty of time as they're a hike away!!!!

tangledladyJanuary 26th 2011.

Can't wait to taste the food based on what I have read above. Food aside, I am genuinely chuffed to bits to see one of my favourite buildings in Manchester looking so beautiful after becoming so run down as Athenaeum. It was one of my first stomping grounds in Manchester many years ago but turned into a bit of a dump.

PedJanuary 26th 2011.

We rely heavily on the very popular one in Edinburgh when we're up there as it just ticks so many boxes other places don't. I'm fond of the one in Bath too. We've been wishing for one in Manchester so delighted it's here and looking fwd to giving it a go.

MaelstromJanuary 27th 2011.

Bit underwhelmed by the veggie options, although my colleague spoke highly of the lamb.

The spinach and feta filo parcel would have benefited from a little variation in texture... pistachios, perhaps...and something to give it a little more punch and break up the repetitiveness of the gunk inside. Tomato/Cinnamon sauce of some kind.

The taste wasn't offensive at all, it was just quite bland, and a bit samey for something with little in the way of accompaniments.

Gary LynessJanuary 27th 2011.

I went on Tuesday to the taster night and agree with most. Service was slow, but they hammered the kitchen to the extreme to test it, so unsurprising. Food when it arrived tho was good. Recommend the shoulder of lamb!

elle_c_emmJanuary 27th 2011.

I went on Tuesday night. Service was friendly, polite, a little slow (but allowably so).
Starters were lovely - goat's cheese mushrooms were succulent, hot and very tasty. The shepherd's pie is well worth choosing, pulled lamb and a rich sauce with plenty of creamy mash. The pumpkin on the side was a tad redundant, but the curly kale was delicios (if a bit cold). The cocktail list looked extensive and will prompt another visit in the future.
The building is stunning, the interiors have had some much needed TLC and respect.
Prices are very reasonable too.

TomegranateJanuary 27th 2011.

I can third the lamb. Amazing.

Rob.January 27th 2011.

Only one sink in the gents? That's a little parsimonius, and not conducive to good hygiene either.

Lorraine19209January 27th 2011.

We went last night and it was delicious!! I made the wrong choice with my starter as had the scallops which I thought were a bit tasteless but friends had the goats cheese and mushrooms, which was to die for and the partfait was gorgeous. We all ate variations of steak and the only slight complaint was the steak pie was slightly lacking in steak. BUT I can't wait to go back to eat, I wish them all the best as its a fantastic place so really pleased that they've gone into that building with such a worthwhile restaurant.

sharxJanuary 28th 2011.

Went last night. Full of the biggest load of pretentious bad mannered arses. We were also told by a lady who seemed to be in charge where to stand. so that we were out of the way and she could pack people in. Menu looks like any other upmarket pub.We went across to "Room" much better bar/restaurant with a better class of people and a better vibe.

SifiJanuary 28th 2011.

We went on a preview night too. The place is absolutely beautiful. Worth going just to sit in that building.

Service was a little tentative but very helpful and genuine.

The food was excellent. The bar looks great, is obviously very well managed and the Cornish Doonbar (sp?)(guest?) beer is a really good pint.

Look forward to going back.

The FrancunianJanuary 28th 2011.

Went there Monday night with 3 girlfriends. We had 4 different starters and mains, appetisers, and sides and everything was really well presented, excecuted and served with a lovely smile.
We were well looked after by our lovely waitress without being too much.
Very little to complain about other than maybe a little speedy to take our plates away but that's about it.
Fantastic buildings.
I am sooooo glad Athaneum (or whatever the name) is gone with its awful scally like visitors. Browns is what Manchester needed in this fabulous location!
Good luck n hope they keep up the standard of the preview night.

J E SibberingJanuary 28th 2011.

Went in tonight - it was hammered. Lovely refurb of a superb interior, nice to have a pianist tinkling the ivories.

Only negative was a southerntw@t at the bar, who complained to me he was, 'trying to have a quiet drink with my friend and you keep barging into me'.

Doh, it's Friday night, you're standing there taking up 5 ft of the very limited space left for people to order drinks, and I wouldn't touch you with a barge pole.

The lovely broad Northern bloke on t'other side of me said. 'Stick yer elbow in his ribs love, we're up North and that's how we get served'.


gailqbFebruary 7th 2011.

ate here on the first preview lunch the other week, and have been putting off posting my review because I didn't think the food was that good... but here goes anyway, all opinions gratefully received however dissenting ! limehawkmoth.wordpress.com/…/…

david293February 7th 2011.

Went on Sunday night about 8pm ,pleaseantly busy (ie) people in ,unlike most other Manchester places ,Cocktail lis is amazing, actually the whole place is amazing it really is a stunning building . Along with Stock and Rosso Manchester really is getting some fine buildings to eat in . The Sunday Dinner rterte was OK it wasnt spectacular ,Had the Peppers and the Pate starters then Roast Beef then Apple Crumble. It was all ok Like goin round your mums is ok,its not wa
hat you want to do a lot!! The A La Carte Menu looks good . We paid £50 for what we had including 2 pints a coffee and a glass of house red. So goin round your mums is cheaper !!
Overall Place 10/10,food 7/10/service9/10

ruthypFebruary 7th 2011.

I visited Browns for one of the tasting lunches.
Was somewhat impressed with the food and service (allowing for it to be slow). As a result I called on the Wednesday prior to opening to book a champagne afternoon tea for my Mum and I on the Saturday. I specifically said it was for afternoon tea.
My Mum was just visiting for the weekend so we made a special trip into Manchester for lunch. I got to Browns to be told that they were not serving afternoon tea until the following Monday, I don't think I even got a 'Sorry'!
I emailed to complain and haven't had a response!
Doubt I will be visiting again.

suepabsFebruary 8th 2011.

The veggie lunch was a real disappointment. The 'roast' itself was fine, the Yorkshire pud had an odd taste and there was more of that than anything, the roasties were pale and wan looking and the veg definitely ordinary. The coffee was lukewarm and seemingly from a 'ready mix' machine but i can't swear by that. Waste of money.

KRSFebruary 28th 2011.

After all the positive comments about the restaurant on here I was disappointed to say the least with the lack of service and ridiculous seating arrangement that I experienced on Saturday for my Mum's birthday. 3 small round bar tables between 9 is not sufficient and to wait 30-40 minutes after ordering to be told there was no fillet steak left is ridiculous. I will not be going again due to this really bad experience.

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