So where to meet my mum for a much needed catch up for tea on a Friday tea time after work? I worked out that The Brownlee Arms was probably in the middle so thought we’d go there and see what it was like. We’d both had a long week and just sitting down and chatting was what we needed as well as good food.
I’d never been in this pub before, it used to be known as the Grey Horse Inn and has recently undergone a full revamp after being taken over by GC Taverns who also have the Stansfield Arms at Apperley Bridge and the Chevin Inn near Menston.
The sign for the pub is well thought out with a great design, and I think that most local people know that the pub has been renamed in honour of the Brownlee Brothers who live locally.
There’s a large well lit car park at the front and side with a beer garden at the back. Good disabled access and toilets and everything looked fresh and new. The chairs were all perfectly mismatched, never quite sure if I like that or not. We’d booked a table for 5pm and the restaurant and bar area were both reasonably quiet. There’s not much of a bar area as most of the pub is set up ready for dining with just a few more ‘drink’ friendly tables to the left when you first go in.
There are lovely little alcoves in the front of the dining area which look onto part of the bar and then a larger open more family friendly dining area at the back. Mum had rung and booked a table the night before for 5pm and although it was quiet when we arrived with not many diners in the restaurant we were sat hidden away in the back larger dining room. You know how restaurants always put a couple of tables near the cutlery tray and on the route to toilets, well this was one of those! Not the best part of a very quiet restaurant to sit two diners. A lof of the tables in this back dining room, including ours, had reserved signs on, some of which were for quite large groups who came later on in the evening.
The menu is nice, not too over complicated but not cheap either. For a dining pub in this area it’s charging about the norm but it does have a lot of excellent local competition. There is an early bird special available on a weekday evening and some meals have an extra charge made on top of this if chosen.
We placed our orders, we both chose the smaller fish and chips. This came with mushy peas which mum didn’t want so she asked for garden peas. I’m always put off by two things, my food going to the wrong table and my order being wrong… not a good start as both happened. Our plates were taken to a neighbouring table and we’d both got garden peas.
The meal was nice but not amazing, the chips although good weren’t all edible as a couple were hard and tasted under cooked. No salt and pepper on our table, there were two on the next table and no knife at my mum’s place setting. The linen napkins were folded to give a pocket for the cutlery so it was very obvious that mum’s knife was missing. The peas were cold on arrival!
Service is so very important to me, good service that is! The gentleman who seemed a bit more in charge of the waitresses tried to take mum’s plate before she’d finished eating. No one ever asked mid meal if we were alright but we felt we were watched constantly. As I’ve already mentioned we were sat by the cutlery station and boy what a noise that made. When a member of staff comes and collects a few sets of clean cutlery they should think about the noise they’re making, clanging cutlery can be very noisy when diners are trying to talk. Then one of the guys in the serving team kept carrying huge amounts of clean napkins precariously in the air past us! A big thing that annoys me in a restaurant is when waiting staff just hover, and what happened a couple of times last night was the realignment of tables for bigger/smaller groups. As a diner I know that happens but I don’t need to hear staff discussing across a restaurant how many chairs they do or don’t need and if you are going to have such conversations then staff should stand close to each other and not shout over the top of diners to colleague as that is never good.
We then asked to be left for a while before we ordered desserts. By this I don’t mean send another waitress every five minutes, I mean when I’m ready I’ll order what we want. In the end after the fourth member of staff asked us I said could we ask you when we’re ready? Basically we’ve had a family crisis this week and the constant interruptions did get a bit much!
We then called a waitress over and ordered two sticky toffee puddings, a black coffee and a decaffeinated tea. No decaffeinated tea! We have decaffeinated coffee she announced on her return, or peppermint or chamomile tea! Why do venues think decaffeinated tea isn’t important or that someone requesting tea would just drink coffee? So mum ordered a pot of hot water.
Another waitress brought our desserts over and told me it was two brownie desserts, I was hoping for sticky toffee pudding I said! Oh yes, I got it wrong she announced putting her head closer to the desserts to look again, they look similar said the waitress!
So the sticky toffee pudding wasn’t very sticky, tasted good but not enough sauce. I was pleased to see that I had cream and mum had ice cream as ordered. If they’d got my dessert wrong it would have had to go back! Garden peas I can cope with but when I’ve ordered cream for a dessert that is my desire.
I’m not sure why the restaurant felt they should use little pots to serve our cream and ice cream with our dessert. To put separate items like a jug of cream on the table is one thing but I did wonder last night where that pot was before it was put on my actual plate especially when you can see that the pot holding the cream was actually touching my dessert and sat in the little sauce there was! Sometimes simplicity is best, but that is just my personal preference and I didn’t feel it added to the meal and didn’t make our desserts look any better!
Eventually our drinks arrived after we’d finished our desserts. A shame really as I ordered them with our desserts as I wanted to drink my coffee while eating my pudding and not after!
So what do I think? It looks lovely. Staffing problems. Waitresses either seemed stressed out and too busy or just stood around lurking in groups watching diners. So all or nothing on the service and staffing, definitely a lot of work needed here.
The food was nice but not amazing and there are other local establishments that have a similar tasty menu for less money with better service. The restaurant was busy but a lot of the diners were groups of older diners and a table close to us had a family with mixed ages and noisy electronic gadgets. As a parent myself it’s always advisable to press the mute button on your child’s gadget when they’re in a public space!
The restaurant and small bar area were both full when we left just before 9pm but mainly diners. This is a real ale pub and I would have hoped to see more pints than glasses of wine but think the wine won on the night! Was also disturbing to see a waitress have to check colours on pints she was serving to a table and then still had to ask for help from her colleague obviously not knowing a pint of real ale from a pint of lager from the look of it!
Hate sounding negative about a pub/restaurant but sometimes it’s best to be honest.
Their website that doesn’t really mention the Brownlee Arms much at the moment and their facebook page isn’t up to date and no twitter account could be found.
I have not been asked or paid to make this review and all comments are my own.