I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t exactly sure what I was getting myself into as I walked along Plymouth’s ‘up-and-coming’ Ebrington Street on my way to sample dinner at Brown & Bean. This trendy new restaurant seems to have been quite the topic of interest for the local press as of late; no doubt due to the untimely departure of Masterchef Winner Anton Piotrowski and the subsequent stepping-up of brothers Joe and Jim Cotton.
Indeed, Brown & Bean’s recent media attention has been akin to that of the most avant-garde London hubs – making me more than a little intrigued to find out what all the fuss was about..
When Brown & Bean first opened its doors in early 2017, the highly anticipated establishment managed to solidify it’s status as the place to dine in Plymouth by offering guests the unique opportunity to eat some of their dishes straight from the back of their hands ‘tequila slam style’.
But despite the local media frenzy, I wasn’t about to let a touch of foodie theatre or a disgruntled ex-chef colour my opinion of Brown & Bean. After all, with two new chef’s at the helm I was keen to let the food and service speak for itself. So, when I stepped off the street and through Brown & Bean’s doors, I was pleased to discover that I liked what I found…
The restaurant is quite an intimate affair, with around 28 covers in total and plenty of 2 – 4 person tables. There’s a real warm and welcoming ambience thanks to the rustic wood panelling, the soft colour scheme and candle lit tables. Likewise, the front of house team was welcoming and attentive from the moment we stepped inside and their enthusiasm left me feeling excited about what was to come…
Dinner is Served
While we browsed the list of speciality wines and had a quick peek at the rather exciting Taster Menu, our waitress brought over a complimentary dish of homemade flatbread and hummus. Receiving something unexpected is always a welcome touch and the flatbreads were a nice way to kick the evening off.
Curried Devon Crab / Blow-torch cucumber / Fennel / Pickled Chilli
We began our meal with a Devon crab dish that read very well indeed. The crab itself was soft and delicate, while the curry flavour wasn’t overpowering. I loved the addition of blow-torched cucumber, as it took a seemingly uninspiring ingredient and really elevated it to the next level. For me, this was a nicely sized portion and it was exactly the sort of starter I would expect from a fine dining restaurant. On the other hand, my dining partner could definitely have eaten a lot more and I could tell that he was pining for the return of the flatbreads!
Marmite Glazed Pollock / Stinging Nettle Gnocchi / Sea Beet Salsa
For my main I took a bit of a risk and opted for a really rather unique sounding dish that combined meaty fish with one hell of a divisive ingredient: marmite. This plate was beautifully presented and the fish was nicely cooked. The marmite added a lovely tang to the crispy skin and the sea beet salsa was really quite lovely – acting as the perfect accompaniment to the main event. Sadly, the stinging nettle gnocchi just didn’t work for me. The texture was too doughy and the overall flavour had a slightly burnt quality to it. It’s a real shame, because had they been perfect this would have been an outstanding dish.
Sirloin Steak / Truffled Turnip / Broad Beans / White Asparagus
As usual, my dining partner opted for the sirloin steak as soon as he saw it on the menu. The steak was incredibly tender and I thought that the seasoning was spot on. The vegetables were a little on the rustic side (served with the ends left on) but they were tasty nonetheless. Very nicely done!
Almond Frangipane / Caffe Latte Ice-Cream / Plums
As expected, dessert was absolutely lovely. The texture of the frangipane was perfect and the accompanying plum sauce contained just the right amount of sweetness. I would definitely order this dish again and I wish I’d tried more of the desserts on offer, as the Cotton’s certainly know how to do their puddings!
I would have liked to have had the opportunity to try the Taster Menu, as I was intrigued by many of the elements. I watched on as two other diners were invited to sample one of their courses from the back of their hands and couldn’t help but smile at the novelty of it all! Our meal certainly wasn’t without a few hiccups, but I think that Brown & Bean are on the right track nonetheless. The overall quality of the food was very good and the front of house team were lovely. I’m excited to see what the future holds for these two young chefs and if you live in or around Plymouth, I would recommend popping in and sampling the food yourself.
68 Ebrington St, Plymouth PL4 9AQ