Restaurant review | Brace & Browns – "jazzed-up small plates"

BPL436 16 October 2019

The bar and kitchen on Whiteladies Road is a loungey affair

“Can we do posh party food?” – the question that realised a dream. Owner David Brown opened Brace & Browns in 2011 on the very much ‘up and coming’ Whiteladies Road back in 2011, with a truly innovative menu, full of British tapas that are neither Spanish small plates, nor hearty main courses, but delicately created morsels made for sharing. 

It’s proved it can stand the test of time as well as Bristol’s rapid restaurant turnover. Crowd-pleaser roasts and a summery terrace are just a couple of the reasons why people keep coming back, and on the September Friday night I went along the terrace was as popular as ever, albeit with cocktail drinkers of the coat-wearing variety.

David has also just recently branched out downtown and installed the appropriately named Harbour & Browns in one of the Harbourside shipping containers. Just as beautifully decorated as the mothership, Brace & Brown’s newest incarnation has already been drawing the masses.

A stunning prosecco brunch – “the original and best Prosecco brunch in town” – has been a Saturday staple at Brace & Browns ever since David returned from New York a few years back with grand tales of party brunches, then a rare occurrence in Britain. Cue three years of fully booked, 110-cover Saturdays at the restaurant and attention from the likes of the Guardian, Telegraph, etc.

BPL436 16 October 2019Fast-forward to 2019 and the team is steering Brace & Browns back towards its tapas heritage, and succeeding with flying colours. However, I wish more Bristolians knew about it – for a Friday night the tables inside were underpopulated, though outside you couldn’t move for people.

A lounge-style interior is decidedly cool and our server matches its laid-back warmth. We’re taken through the menu, make our choices and sit back on our velvety chairs in anticipation. 

The goods arrive at once and are clearly fresh, having been made from locally sourced ingredients by head chef Andy. Leon Bridges’ dulcet tones fill the air and we begin touring our selections between sips of pinot noir. First up is roasted cauliflower steak – gently charred and positively meaty, served with baba ganoush and pomegranate for a fruity contrast. 

A warm salad of fennel, pak choi, bean sprouts, sesame and yuzu dressing is exactly what you’d expect – refreshing, sweet green flavours with salty Asian seasoning.

Truffle and parmesan-topped chips are of great texture but potentially could have done with slightly more flavour, however, if intended as some sort of a palate-cleanser in-between the various sauces, meats and glazes, then more power to them.BPL436 16 October 2019

The honey and spice-glazed chicken wings are cooked to fall-off-the-bone perfection, the glaze a burst of deliciousness in every bite. Wide-cut carrot strips laid on top, also slightly honeyed, are an interesting and tasty addition.

The filet of sea bass with preserved lemon and olives is tender and humble in flavour, but by no means dull – just simple, soft and mild.

Brace & Browns is the whole package, and definitely far more than a cocktail stop. As the festive season approaches, I have no doubt that they’ll be winning themselves even more customers, if that were even possible.

Caitlin Bowring

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Brace & Browns, 43 Whiteladies Road, Bristol, BS8 2LS / 0117 9737 800 / www.braceandbrowns.co.uk

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