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Browns Grill Room

Browns Hotel, 33 Albermarle Street, London, England, W1S 4BP, United Kingdom

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Be aware that this has had a major change in mid 2008, so the review below is primarily of historical interest.

The room has attractive wood panelling and a thick carpet (with no music) that ensures a peaceful meal. The menu is resolutely traditional British. Starters were generally £9 - £11, main courses around £25 e.g. grilled Dover sole at £29, with even Lancashire hot pot £17.50. Vegetables were extra at £3.75 - £4.25. There were also daily specials on the trolley. Desserts were £5.50 - £7.50 e.g. apple crumble with custard. Bread was just slices of white bread, pleasant though a little lacking in salt (12/20). I had some simple dishes: fish soup and then liver and bacon. 

Fish soup was reasonable, but had just a couple of token pieces of fish in a soup which lacked the complexity that comes with generous use of multiple seafood constituents; it was at least seasoned properly (12/20) but for £7.50 for a (sloppily served) bowl surely a little more effort could have been put in?  Liver and bacon had pleasant smoked Anglian bacon, but I found the calves liver, though correctly grilled, of ordinary quality; when dishes arrive completely unadorned they rely on top ingredients, as there is nowhere to hide, especially at £18.75 for two pieces of liver and some bacon; at least the mustard was thrown in (11/20). Perhaps ingredients were better with other dishes that I did not try; certainly at these prices there is no excuse for them not not to be. A portion of chips on the side was pleasant but lacked crispness (12/20). 

Coffee at least came with a few petit fours, including a decent orange jelly and a slightly soft biscuit. Service was very good throughout, with just one minor topping up error. Perhaps I ordered poorly, but I just cannot reconcile the level of cooking here with the prices. This is cooking at its simplest: grill a piece of meat or fish and serve, yet even the cheapest cuts are very costly (pork belly was £16.75).  Some web sites claim there is a cheaper set lunch menu, but there was no sign of such a thing today and to be fair there was no mention of it on Browns' own web site when I checked later. Judging by the suits and ties of the clientele this is firmly a business lunch venue where price is a secondary issue.  Certainly the peaceful dining room is an excellent setting for such a lunch; a pity the cooking does not match.  

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