Brown's

Price guide: Mid-range

5-11 Woodstock Road, Oxford, OX2 6HA

Price guide: Mid-range

Brown's

By Adrian Mourby, your Oxford expert

I write for Classic FM, Evening .... Read more
#6 of 27
expert-rated restaurants in Oxford
Expert overall rating:4.2 out of 5
Food and drink:
3.8
3.8
Ambience:
3.9
3.9
Service:
3.7
3.7
Location:
3.8
3.8
Value for money:
3.7
3.7
Recommended for:
Business travellers, Families with teenagers, Families with younger children, Mature travellers, Travellers with pets, No fuss, Relaxation, Special occasions, Trendiness

Expert review of Brown's

The original trendy-dining restaurant in Oxford.

When Brown’s opened in 1973 in an old garage on Woodstock Road, it was an informal place where students could eat and plates were refilled at no extra charge. The other draw was the brevity of the waitresses’ mini-skirts. Now into its fourth decade, Brown’s is an Oxford institution, a name “on a par with the Bodleian" according to the Good Food Guide. Prices have rocketed since the 1970s, putting Brown’s firmly in the category of places where parents take their student offspring. It’s also created its own small chain around the UK, always in stylish old buildings and always - with its large potted plants and brown and yellow painting work - immediately recognisable.

Food and drink: 

As well as the main menu, Brown’s offers brunch and a pre-theatre menu. There are also 'varsity' and 'cathedral' menus available for large groups. For starters there is a good value meat platter and vegetarian platter.

Cocktails include Brown’s own Champagne cocktail with Cointreau and Courvoisier and the Brown’s bellini. The 'pre- and post-theatre” menu is good value at £10.95. And although I’ve never been to the Christmas Day £60 four-course feast, I know a lot of families who make it part of their annual celebrations.

Ambience: 

I find it difficult to think about Brown's without noise and clatter. It's very much a "happening" place where the staff seem to be recruited for the buzz that they can contribute. That said, I have walked past some sunny mornings and seen people reading the papers in a very relaxed fashion, so it's quite likely the ambience shifts depending on when you go and what you are going for. Students living it up because their parents are paying might be noisier than north Oxford gents with their copy of the "Indie".

Service: 

Browns used to be famous for the shortness of the skirts worn by its waitresses. I first came here in 1980 and was enchanted. These days Browns is much more of an equal opportunity employer and recruits handsome young men too.                                                                      

Location: 

Browns is part of "food corner" - an agglomeration of great places to spend money on food at the top of St Giles where the Woodstock Road begins. Its immediate neighbours are Patisserie Blanc and the twin Taylors either side of Little Clarendon Street.

Price advice: 

I never get out without having paid around £40 per person, and that's excluding drinks. Of course these days I am the parent and my children are the students.

Other useful branches: 

There are now six Brown’s in London and seven around the UK, all located in historic buildings.

More information on Brown's:

Price guide:
Mid-range
Type:
Bar, Brasserie, Restaurant
Food:
British, French, International
Address:
5-11 Woodstock Road, Oxford, OX2 6HA
Telephone:
01865 511995
Website:
http://www.browns-restaurants.co.uk
Serves:
Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, Afternoon Tea, Dinner
Opening times:
Mon–Sun 9am-11pm (11.30pm Fri-Sat; 10.30pm Sun). Brown's does not close any day of the year.
Accepts Credit Cards:
Yes
Reservations:
Essential at peak times

Have you been to Brown's? Would you recommended it?