As an exchange student from New York, I’ve been searching the city of Newcastle for the best way to become fully acclimatized to English culture. The answer wasn’t freshers’ week, starting uni classes, or a trip to Primark. I realized the one thing that could help me adapt to my new life was simple: food. And so, on Friday afternoon at around 2:30pm, two of my flat mates and I embarked on a journey to Browns Brasserie and Bar on Grey Street. I was determined to fully immerse myself in the local culture by having my first afternoon tea experience. Upon walking into Browns, I was taken aback by the high class décor; chandeliers suspended from the ceiling, lamps on every table, champagne bottles and apples in a basket – it was definitely a change from my afternoon bowl of yogurt and granola eaten in my flat kitchen.
“i was determined to fully immerse myself in the local culture by having my first afternoon tea Experience”
We made a reservation in advance, which turned out to be unnecessary as Browns had plenty of space and empty tables to cater our hungry stomachs. After being promptly seated by our waitress, we went straight for the afternoon tea menu, which had three options: Traditional Browns Afternoon Tea, A Champagne Afternoon, and A most unusual Afternoon (consisting of gin and tonic in place of tea). We chose the Traditional Browns Afternoon Tea, the most Uni-budget-friendly option, coming in at £12.50. The set menu consisted of home baked scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam, a selection of butter brioche rolls with assorted fillings, and the most tantalizing part of the meal: mini desserts. I, being a New Yorker who refuses to conform to British drink-culture, went for coffee instead of tea.
“I, being a new yorker, refuse to conform to british drink culture and went for coffee”
The minute our waitress brought our afternoon food out, my iPhone camera was clicking away at the adorable three-tier platter filled to the brim with bite sized foods. First, we attacked the brioche bun sandwiches. As a vegetarian, I went for the egg & baby watercress sandwich. The brioche bun was absolutely the best part of the sandwich; though the filling was your typical egg salad – nonetheless delicious. Katie and Naomi enjoyed the smoked salmon with chive & lemon cream cheese and chicken & avocado rolls. Next, we went for the scones. They were warm, which is the best quality any baked-carb can take on. However my roommate, from Middleborough, scoffed at my pronunciation of the word scone (apparently you’re not supposed to pronounce the “e” in scone.) Lastly, we rushed towards the most anticipated part of the meal, the mini desserts. They consisted of salted caramel profiteroles, red velvet cake, white chocolate pot, and lemon & Earl Grey tea cake. Each dessert was divine. Although I’m not necessarily a tea girl, the Earl Grey tea cake won Katie, Naomi and I over with it’s soft inside and silky smooth frosting.
My stomach is full, my heart is happy,” said Katie Hall. “My overall review: Browns is thoroughly Instagram-able.” Overall, I’d have to agree. I’ll absolutely be returning to Browns; if not for afternoon tea, for whenever I’m feeling the need for a classy meal in a comfortable location.