It seems to be an accident of my adulthood that I have made it to my mid-30s with very few of my friends becoming parents.
My own feelings on children aside, I don’t think it’s that I actively repel mums and dads – at least, I hope not. Besides, my closest friends are, for the most part, the same ones I’ve had for the best part of a decade. While a big part of it is probably coincidence, I think it’s much more socially acceptable to be pretty ambivalent about children these days: whereas once people would have coupled off and maybe had kids pretty early on, even if it wasn’t really part of their life plan, nowadays you can get away with postponing a decision either way while you pursue other projects – something that I suspect is even more the case amongst us creative types. Perhaps my friend-group will see a flurry of new arrivals towards the end of the decade, perhaps not.
I’d like to think it wouldn’t make a difference either way. A couple of weeks ago, I read a great article on Offbeat Home and Life by a mother in praise of her childfree friends, and it struck such a chord. I mean, I’m generally pro anything that builds up other women rather than turning our differences into platforms from which to launch attacks. But this was particularly special, and I loved that when I shared it on Facebook the two people I love most in the world who are mums gave it the ol’ thumbs-up.
I want to be the friend who keeps my mama friends “tethered to the world”, as the author of the article wrote, and I want to watch – and even help, as best I can – as the people I care about guide new people I can care about into the world. I mean, as long as you don’t ask me to feed them or anything, you know how I get about chewed-up food.
Against that backdrop, then, there was no question that when I was invited to review Browns in Glasgow city centre it would be Bobby I would be taking with me.
Well, that and the fact it was Bobby I had been in with most recently, that night we sacked off a dance class to drink cocktails because I was having a bit of an existential crisis. Because motherhood doesn’t actually change people all that much.
Located in the 130-year-old GPO Building facing onto George Square, Browns has recently undergone a bit of a refurb, making it an ideal time to visit. Although the restaurant is part of a chain, the uniqueness of the setting gives the Glasgow restaurant tonnes of personality: think of that timeless bar/brasserie setting, but with an airy, modern twist. The space actually reminded me of a contemporary take on Mr B’s Bistro in New Orleans, and was just as homely.
Our attentive, friendly waiter Ian filled our water glasses and got the cocktails in: a Bloody Mary for Bobby, true to form; and a Clover Club for me, because I couldn’t resist the prospect of lemon drizzle gin. Raspberry and lemon seems to be my cocktail combination of choice at the moment, and this classy drink didn’t disappoint.
This spring, Browns has put together a seasonal menu based around lamb and asparagus – two ingredients that, awkwardly, I won’t eat. No matter, because Bobby had been salivating over the menu since roughly five minutes after our date was arranged and had already picked out the asparagus and smoked pancetta linguine; leaving me to choose between the burger and the chicken and chips exactly like the sort of philistine you really shouldn’t bother inviting to a “nice” eatery.
Excuse what is probably some clanging fail of etiquette, but why do restaurants give you a spoon with your pasta? Particularly something like linguine, which presumably everybody but Lady and the Tramp twirl to eat. Oh, don’t mind me: I’ve only got an Italian granny, plus as we all know I have some very strong opinions about sauce.
Which, presumably, is why I never ordered this dish – which Bobby absolutely loved, not least because she was able to savour it without a curly blonde cherub tugging at her elbow every couple of minutes. The pasta “tasted exactly like I thought it would … in a good way”, was her reaction. Served in a basil and lemon dressing, the pasta was also topped with a soft poached egg – something that Bobby, despite reading it on the menu, managed to completely forget before bursting it open as the most delightful of surprises. Again, not a dish I would ever have ordered.
Meanwhile, sitting across the table, was me; with my half roast chicken and chips (hold the Bordelaise sauce, of course). While any sensible person would have found this dish incredibly dry without the sauce I was in my element, picking every last bit of the beautifully-cooked lemon and thyme marinated bird off the bone. The accompanying fries were perfectly crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside too – I’ve had a really good run of chips in Glasgow restaurants recently. When it inevitably comes crashing down, I’m going to be absolutely heartbroken.
While I’d be lying if I said my intrepid dining companion and I didn’t at least consider another cocktail regardless of the toddler to get home to/work in the morning, we were quickly distracted by what I can only describe as the most epic dessert menu I have ever seen. Now, I like a good dessert, but I’m usually drawn pretty quickly to one or at most a choice of two of the options in front of me. At Browns, I was torn between FIVE options – settling right as I opened my mouth to order.
— Browns Glasgow (@BrownsGlasgow) April 6, 2017
You know you’ve made the right call though when the plate is placed in front of you and you are not disappointed: and that was exactly how I felt about the salted caramel profiteroles. Served with a fluffy cloud of fresh cream and what I can only describe as a home made cinder toffee lollipop, I wolfed these little beauties down without an ounce of shame. Much like my husband, Bobby will usually opt for the sticky toffee pudding if it’s on offer and she wasn’t disappointed with her choice either – although she did say there was very little ginger to the ginger ice cream accompaniment. Of course, it was already beginning to melt by the time I posed the plate for a photo, which ultimately turned out blurry and unusable, but that’s the price you pay when your blogger mates take you out to dinner unfortunately.
Excellent food, excellent chat and some really lovely surroundings – Browns really is the perfect place for a classy, grown-up lady date away from the kids. Pro tip: leave room for dessert.
We were treated to a complimentary meal at Browns in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own and unbiased.