Kake, 9 Mar 2001
I've now tried the Roast Red Peppers and the Pasta Arrabbiata, and they're very nice. The Chickpea Casserole and Artichoke Salad have disappeared from the menu, unfortunately. Several of us went here for dinner on a Friday. Still noisy, still crowded. My chair was towards the centre of the room and during the time we were there, it got kicked by several passing customers (forgiveable) and a couple of staff (less forgivable).
Kake, 23 Mar 2000
Browns is a very popular and lively restaurant. Unfortunately, this means that at times it can be rather crowded — I've been in a group of eight squeezed round a circular table that would have been short of elbow and leg room with only six or seven. It also gets pretty noisy from around 6:30, and the dim lighting means it can be quite hard to follow a conversation even with a bit of lip-reading. If you're with someone who's slightly hard of hearing, it might be best to request a table by the window, as it's a bit quieter there.
They're fairly clued-up as regards vegans, and there's a decent choice of food. Starters on the current menu (Spring 2000) include Roast Red Peppers (£3.95) with fresh basil, garlic and olive oil (potentially vegan, but I haven't had it yet, so check it doesn't come with Parmesan shavings or something) and Toasted Olive Bread (£1.95) with sundried tomatoes — vegan, and very nice. The Soup of the Day (£2.95) is always vegetarian and often vegan.
There are three vegan main dishes (on the Spring 2000 menu). I haven't yet tried the Pasta Arrabbiata (£6.85), which is billed as a choice of spaghetti or fettucini tossed with tomato, chilli, olive oil, garlic, crushed red peppers and olives; but a friend tells me it's very good. I often choose the Warm Roast Pepper And Artichoke Salad (£7.55), served with pine nuts (ask them to omit the Parmesan shavings); it's a bit oily, but nice and filling. The Chickpea Casserole (£7.45), a spicy tomatoey stew served with couscous, could do with having some vegetables in it, but is tasty. Make sure they leave the yogurt dressing off the side.
There aren't any vegan puddings, unfortunately, but the coffee is really very nice.