In about a week or so, Rich Guy will be leaving for Asia. He does this often, traveling back and forth. However, the first time he left for Asia for any extended period of time was back in 2001. We decided to throw him a going away party. Turns out he came back, so we threw him another going away party the next time he left. Suffice to say, we caught on pretty quick and decided that there would be no more "going-away" parties for Rich Guy! However, Rich Guy is well-liked, so anytime we have a chance to eat out before he leaves, we take it. Today, we were going to meet up with Vandelay and Donna Chang as well. Since they were already going to be in North Vancouver buying coffee beans, we decided to try Brown's Social House on Lonsdale.
Although Brown's is not known for being kid-friendly, they did their best to make it comfortable for us. While we were waiting for Vandelay and Donna Chang to arrive, Rich Guy was getting quite antsy, he kept hinting that he wanted appetizers. We ended up getting the Crispy Calamari and General Tao's Chicken to start. Resting on a bed of spicy tomato sauce, the calamari was ever-so-lightly breaded and cooked perfectly. I'm not sure why they describe it as crispy though since it was not crispy at all. However, that wasn't really a big problem because the texture of the calamari went well with the fresh tasting sauce. Although I tend to hesitate whenever there is Chinese food at a non-Asian restaurant, the General Tao's Chicken was not bad. The chicken was moist; yet a bit bland. However, the sauce made up for this being quite flavourful. In the back of my mind, I kept thinking that I was merely eating fried chicken pieces tossed in prepackaged sauce (correct me if I'm wrong). Moreover, the crispy wonton skins would have been better served either on top or on the bottom unmixed with the sauce.
Viv decided to try the New Mexican-Style Hash which consisted of 2 poached eggs topped with tarragon hollandaise (really Bearnaise) resting on a bed of double-cooked mojo potatoes, pulled pork, cheddar, banana peppers and onions. The dish tasted quite pleasant; but we didn't expect that the potatoes would be French fries. It was a decent, if not unexciting dish. I opted for the Hickory Burger since I had been craving a burger for quite some time. It consisted of Canadian bacon, BBQ sauce, cheddar, lettuce and tomato. Although the burger did not "wow" me; it was more than decent. I particularly liked the use of Canadian back bacon which gave good flavour without being fatty. I really didn't like the fries as they were not crispy at all and a bit hard. Donna Chang had the Hollywood Burger and she echoed the same sentiments. Rich Guy went for the Eggs Benny and although it wasn't bad, the Hollandaise was quite rich. Well, rich sauce for a Rich Guy, what's wrong with that??? Anyways, I took a quick peek at the poached egg and it was almost solid. That is a no-no when it comes to Eggs Benny.
Vandelay, being the good friend that he is, ordered something completely different from the rest of us - Carbonara Linguine. It gave me an opportunity to take more pictures and to get a better feel of the menu. He took one for the team! Well, it turns out he did just that because the dish was not very good. First, the pasta was a bit soft. Second, the sauce was a bit clumpy and not very smooth. This was evident when I tried to sample the dish. The linguine ended up being stuck together due to the sauce. Furthermore, I thought the sauce was quite bland. We ended up ordering the Eggs Over Easy for the kiddies. Surprisingly, they separated the breakfast on to 2 plates for each child. By doing so, it seemed like a whole lot more food. Now something as simple as a breakfast which consists of eggs, sausage, "potatoes" and sourdough toast should be hard to mess up right? Well, yes and no. The positive was that the sausages were large and flavourful (Vandelay couldn't stop laughing when I made that statement). The bad was that the potatoes were fries again and the scrambled eggs resembled spatzle. When you can't make scrambled eggs properly, you have a big problem.
Trying to make a judgement on Brown's was really tough for me. On one hand, the service was really good and it's a nice restaurant. On the other, the food was a bit hit and miss. Vandelay said that I was probably not their target demographic since most people would go for the socializing and the food would be secondary. I partially agree with that statement; but compared to other similar restaurants such as Cactus Club and Joey's, I feel the food at Brown's lags a bit behind for roughly the same price. Ultimately, it still comes down to personal preference. This is especially true when a restaurant is not actually bad, nor is it actually great. Personally, if you are going to spend that kind of money, head over to The District Social House instead.
- Great service
- Varied menu
- Nice dining space and atmosphere
- If you can't do scrambled nor poached eggs, you have a problem
- Food in general is hit and miss