Food Monster: Browns Pie Shop, Lincoln
Barbecue safely put away. Sun tan cream packed up. Bermuda shorts sent back to Bermuda (or at least put at the very bottom of the drawer). You'll be unsurprised to read that I feel like summer is over.
And once it's finished, there's no turning back. This, too, applied to my culinary choices. Al fresco dining was one of the great pleasures afforded to FM during the long, bright and warm days we were so glad to enjoy. But no longer.
With almost a chill in the air, I sought a comforting meal, something that would give me reassurance as the nights draw in.
For that reason, FM huffed and puffed up Steep Hill in Lincoln to reach Browns Pie Shop. It's a small, slightly cramped but wonderful place full of character and history.
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The staff at Browns are friendly, chatty and put you at ease from the moment you walk into the premises. We turned up on a busy Saturday afternoon with shoppers and tourists alike stopping off for some much-needed sustenance after a morning of sightseeing or spending some pounds in the quaint Bailgate shops.
My dining partner is gluten-free which made choosing something from the menu a little trickier than usual, but there were plenty of options for her.
In a busy but pleasant environment, with many large groups having lunch, we chose our starters.
Although there were plenty of tempting choices – among them Scottish salmon with rocket salad and mushroom with cream cheese and pate – my eyes (and indeed stomach) were drawn to the warm goat's cheese salad with red onion marmalade. I'm happy to report that the flavours combined beautifully in this not insignificantly-sized opener, which was a tasty sign of things to come.
Unfortunately my dining partner was less impressed with her mussels cooked in garlic onion, wine and cream which, she felt, lacked a little character and came off as bland.
The main event for me, naturally, was the pie. The choice was dazzling and that alone would ensure a return visit, given the high standard of main course I was served.
The beef and Irish stout pie was delicious, a highly satisfying pastry lid covering large and tender pieces of meat which I consumed with much joy. A decent serving of mashed potato certainly stretched my stomach, as did the accompanying vegetables. And I hadn't even touched the bread and butter provided with the first course.
My partner was somewhat more enthused by her main course than her starter. Avoiding the gluten, she plumped for chicken with tarragon sauce which was consumed with a cheeky smile and happy face.
We had just about enough room for dessert. A chocolate-lover at heart – but torn by the huge number of options available – I was persuaded to go for the cheesecake. It was just the right level of sweetness and a great way to finish off.
My partner described her lemon meringue creme brulee with lemon meringue ice cream as "excellent", which is some commendation considering the high standards to which she holds dessert.
A trip to Browns Pie Shop is worthwhile – treat yourself to a fine meal in very comfortable surroundings.