A smart casual younger sister to Derry’s leading dining destination, Ian Orr’s well established Browns Restaurant & Champagne Lounge across the river at Waterside, this city centre venue gives off all the right vibes with its chic, confidently understated contemporary décor and well-priced menus offering seasonality and stylish informality.
Modern and clean lined, Browns in Town is pleasing to the eye (with echoes of the city’s maritime history, perhaps, in the use of wood and bold curves reminiscent of a ship’s frame) and designed for comfort, with restful muted colours, and booths for privacy.
Attention to detail is seen where it counts - in excellent lighting, for example, and really comfortable seating - and smartly attired staff are quick to show new arrivals to the crisply white-clothed tables which are a reminder that, relaxed and accessibly priced as it may be, this is a fine dining destination.
An ideal lunchtime venue for the business community, shoppers and visitors in town for the day, it’s equally popular for a stylish evening out and the range of menus allows for a changing clientèle throughout the day, with lunch and early dinner menus offering exceptional value, also separate vegetarian and children’s menus as well as an appealing and keenly priced à la carte.
Ian Orr and his team are renowned for quality, local sourcing and seasonality and - whether they’re shouting about the provenance or not - this is the foundation for everything they serve. Head chef at Browns in Town is David Lafferty, formerly Ian’s sous chef at the Waterside flagship restaurant; although only in his mid '20s, the skill and maturity of his cooking is a real joy - and Restaurant Manager Damien Mclaughlin ensures that excellent service will complete a memorable experience here.
Gorgeous home baked breads and deeply flavoured soups are a constant feature, also wholesome deeply flavoured lunch dishes like Browns fish pie, imaginative variations on ever-popular steaks - sirloin with peperonata, parmesan purée and rocket & shallot salad, perhaps - and vegetarian dishes like red wine risotto with spinach and goats cheese. All menus offer great choices, broadened on the à la carte to include options like rabbit, duck and Finnebrogue venison.
The cooking is terrific and, while everything is presented with panache, there’s real emphasis on flavour. And irresistible desserts too of course - an autumnal treat of apple and pistachio tart with crème fraiche, honey and roast pistachios perhaps - or maybe timeless Browns chocolate truffle cake with marshmallows and vanilla ice cream. Tough choice.
This lovely restaurant reflects the huge changes seen in Derry City since it was designated UK City of Culture in 2013 - optimistic, welcoming and relaxed, there’s a sense of discovery and excitement in the air.
Finding your way here through bustling narrow streets that are full of buzz, the atmosphere would remind you of Cork, the city that’s widely recognised as Ireland’s food capital. A new star is born.